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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/6/21

Guests: Howard Dean, Margaret Carlson, Vicky Ward, Akhil Amar, Michael Hirschorn, Chazz Palminteri


The U.S. jobs in July jumped to 940,000 and the unemployment rate dopped to 5 percent. GOP silent over Biden`s tan suit after Obama fashion freak-out. Election expert warned Trump plotting a different coup next time. Florida Republican representative turning to MAGA trolling against FOX News.


WALLACE: Thank you so much for letting us into your home during these truly extraordinary times. We`re grateful. "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Hi, Ari. Happy Friday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday. Hi, Nicole. Thank you very much.

And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber. And the new jobs numbers are out today. Nearly a million new jobs juicing the American economy. These figures actually smashed expectations. It brings unemployment down. President Biden taking a victory lap today while stressing there`s more work to do.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line is this, what we`re doing is working. The Biden produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward. We just have to keep going. It is simple. That means get vaccinated. Please. It`s safe. It works. It will save lives.


MELBER: The president combining two messages there, which I`ll get into right now. The fact is, we are now economically a very long way from when COVID first hit. The humanitarian crisis which swiftly became an economic one, the Dow, the markets, the jobs, everything crashing. And now to be as precise as possible, the American economy was rebounding before Biden took office.

But this shift on jobs and unemployment plus historic drops in poverty are now partly powered by Biden`s successful push for this sweeping federal spending. It`s part of what has been the debate in Washington in the last few months. And Biden is marching towards what looks like a new landmark win on the next job in infrastructure bill which will get a vote tomorrow with some Republicans on board, at least with those early procedural steps. We`ll see what the final vote is.

Now some Republicans have shifted to basically blocking about the additions to the national debt in this plan tomorrow. Now that has been the reason that some are claiming delay, even though, we should be clear, the same Republicans doubled the entire deficit in concert with Trump when he was in office before any pandemic (INAUDIBLE) he`s spending. So that`s a debate about how much debt America can afford, and maybe it`s going through some partisan lenses. But there`s no debate about the American jobs market tonight.

It is improving under Biden`s double shot, a federal stimulus and strong safety measures to try to beat COVID faster than the more aloof approach we`ve seen in red states like Florida. The numbers are clear, as I showed you. This is the big story in America right now. And it affects people`s lives. The numbers show jobs are up and poverty is down.

Biden says it`s working, which is one way to put it. Another way to put it is to quote the Obama supporter Shawn Carter when he wanted to remind people of his track record just as Biden is doing today. He said back-to- back, double plat, I did what you won`t. Men lie, women lie, numbers don`t. And they really don`t. So when it comes to some of the spending in these COVID safety measures, Biden is doing what some Republicans won`t, though he`d like them to get on board.

But that`s probably enough lyrics for the Biden era. But it is Friday, so let`s do one more from Migos new album when they say, we making money in quarantine, quarantine, it`s the blue Benjamin`s vaccine, vaccine. And that`s really Biden`s point today in a nutshell. He has some Migos energy here. Spend money, make money and get that vaccine.

Now let`s get right into it. I`m joined by former Vermont governor, DNC chair, and Dr. Howard Dean, and the "Daily Beast`s" Margaret Carlson.

Margaret, what do you think about what Joe Biden is trying to do today? He`s mixing the economy, that message with the vaccine push, they`re related, and as mentioned, he`s doing it in his own more measured style, but it has -- it has some bravado of saying, look, this is working and that means what he`s doing he says is working.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it`s definitely working, and he had no help from Republicans, and yet they`re seemed fearless about going back to their districts. They didn`t hand out the checks. Sometimes they lie about having voted to send out those checks. But they haven`t cooperated in any way with what Biden is doing. So, he should be able to take all the credit.

You know, I think what`s interfering slightly in the victory lap here is that the Delta variant is back. And the guy in charge gets blamed for what happens when he`s in charge even though he does not have any control over it. And I think the real struggle will be you get this infrastructure bill through with the Congress, through the Senate, having to go off to a funeral and using that to perhaps, you know, not get down to -- you know, what is it, "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and only a funeral, but they do have to go, it was a senator.


And it`s complicated and it does cost a lot, and I would bet you -- Howard would be able to tell us. You could sit down, you know, 70 of those senators and not one of them could tell you really what`s in that bill. But the Republicans aren`t for it. Whatever it is, they`re not really for it.

MELBER: Right. Well, they probably know the price tag and as you say not all the details.

Governor, numbers don`t lie. Your thoughts?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: First of all, I actually think most of the Republican senators are for it. They just don`t dare vote for it because they don`t want to give Biden the victory. When Biden wins this, and I think he will, then they`ll all -- they`re going to go home and do just what the House did, whether a huge stimulus package passed and claimed that they all supported it and try to get online.

These people are pretty shameless people. The problem is we can laugh about it because it is shameless and it`s kindergartener-like. Actually, that`s an insult to kindergarteners. But the danger is they are also autocrats. So, they don`t believe in the democratic process. And that`s really the major problem is they`re really trying to seize power by all these voting restrictions.

Georgia is -- I can`t decide which is more of a democracy, Georgia or Haiti? Because Georgia has just tried to -- the Republicans in Georgia are trying to seize control of the voting in the largest populated, mostly black county in Atlanta, Fulton County. I mean this is the kind of stuff these people are about. So underneath the victory lap at economics, and we are doing better, and the Republicans were terrible in Florida and Texas and places like that, and their governors are under water, but underneath all that is a real threat to our democracy.

And I think we have to keep that in mind as we go through these great days for Joe Biden. They are great days for Joe Biden but they`re not going to be great days for America unless we all turn out and vote in 2022 and 2024.

MELBER: Yes, the creeping authoritarianism is something that`s very really real even if people like to put it behind them. We have more on that actually with some special guests tonight, as well.

Margaret, since you mentioned that the incumbent president is going to own it regardless even if the surge is, for example, with COVID or in areas partly related to the Republican state policies, we just went through a bunch of the good news for Biden when that`s the truth or the accurate situation we`ll report it. The politically more diffident news for him -- we`ll put up the polling -- is he was on a real surge especially given how polarized things are these days.

He was up as high as 62 percent in June, which is quite rare. I mean, obviously Trump never got near there, but modern presidents don`t tend to. But that is coming back to earth here in the latest numbers down to about 52 percent, Margaret.

CARLSON: Well, lots of presidents would have loved that. And, you know, when you start doing stuff, your numbers go down. And you know, he`s passed, you know, his early honeymoon and, you know, he`s constantly under siege from Republicans and yet thinking there are going to be bipartisan. He waters down everything. You know, there`s this rich brew and then the Republicans water it down, water it down, and water it down, and then they don`t vote for it any way.

And Howard and I are old enough timers -- well, I don`t want to drag you into this, Howard, but do you remember when --

DEAN: I`m older than you are, I think.

CARLSON: Oh, thank you for that. That the Congress would come together for, you know, planes, trains, automobiles and a bridge. Even a bridge to nowhere. But they can`t be seen -- Republicans can`t be seen supporting it because it might offend Donald Trump or their MAGA, you know, constituents so they kind of sit there and drag it out. And -- but wait, this $340 billion, I think it`s $540 billion is going to cost isn`t what Democrats wanted in the first place.

But also, it`s just going to fill potholes. It`s -- we`re not going to get 20 percent for infrastructure by any means. We`re going to get a couple bridges not to collapse and maybe a highway fixed or two, but, you know, we`re going to be paying bills for what we didn`t do all these years. That`s the infrastructure we`re going to get if we`re lucky and if Republicans come around.

DEAN: Well, I might have --


DEAN: A slight contradiction.

MELBER: Go ahead, Governor.

DEAN: Sorry. I think there is going to be a brand-new tunnel into the Hudson River. I`m pretty sure Schumer is not staying there for all this extra time.

CARLSON: Good point. Yes, and that water thing. Yes.

MELBER: Yes. And we`re going to see tomorrow what the vote is. I think Margaret makes a very apt point that we`ll be -- really weekend news, we`ll see, do enough of these Republicans come along because Joe Biden works so hard to get them and wants things to be bipartisan, and people take him at his word there, or did they continue to dilute a drink that they`re not going to partake in? And it`s hard to cook with people who aren`t eating the same meal because you just don`t have the same vested interests. So, we`ll see about that tomorrow.

There`s another item I have to get to, well, you know, I mentioned it`s Friday. It`s a special Friday show.


And there is a suit that is once again taking Washington by storm. Our panel stays, but I want to show you today, eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed when President Biden was touting the jobs numbers, your eyes aren`t deceiving you. He was back in tan. Some thinking, is he trolling Republicans with his summer look? Because everyone remembers that at a time, for some on the right and in FOX News, Obama`s biggest scandal was just wearing a tan suit. That was seven years ago, a different political era, the right claimed to be outraged.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: One of the ugliest suits in the history of America.

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I think it was shocking to a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that horrible light tan suit. It`s an impeachable offense right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked twice to make sure he wasn`t a circus ringmaster. The only thing missing was the top hat.

DOBBS: Whoever talked to me into going into a tan suit, they`re so desperate because of these little poll numbers they`re willing to do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A serious businessman wears dark blue or black to important meetings. I think it`s a sign to enemies that he`s a wimp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This confirms he`s a Marxist.

PETER KING (R), FORMER NEW YORK REPRESENTATIVE: There`s no way I think any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday.


MELBER: I mean it`s -- that`s real. None of that is parody. Today for some reason and this is where the politics actually fit in, we`re not hearing the same kind of ridiculous faux outrage on the right. Maybe they`re embarrassed because it didn`t work last time?

Now on social media people did have some fun. Dan Rather thinks that there was an attempt to troll FOX. That`s his take. Someone pointing out it`s better than Trump wearing pants backwards. Also, a sartorial choice. And the White House communications director calling it a time to acknowledge, and we love a pun around here on THE BEAT, "subs-TAN-tial" job growth today. Shoutout to a Twitter pun.

I go to Margaret first just because in our business sometimes we all get caught up on the wrong things or we`re covering a six-hour inauguration and we talk too much about the fashion. But that seemed to reveal a kind of political desperation there and other people saw it also as a kind of a mania, kind of obsession with trying to take down Obama for anything. And today we do have a comparison, Margaret, which is they`re just not even bothering when Joe rocks the same outfit.

CARLSON: Yes, I think that didn`t work especially as most of the people, men on FOX criticizing were wearing, you know, not the best sartorial splendor on themselves when they did it. Well, remember they moved on to Obama`s dad jeans for a while. And that didn`t really catch either. But it`s kind of innocent times when that`s what you`re criticizing because now we have, you know, Republicans pretending like January 6th didn`t occur and Nancy Pelosi should be whacked with -- you know, McCarthy is saying that Pelosi should be whacked with a gavel if he gets back in charge in 2022. And Ari, you can put that --

MELBER: Yes. No, and I think that`s a contrast --


MELBER: Go ahead.

CARLSON: The substantial to a rap lyric. Come on, come on, come on.

MELBER: Well, you know, they say a lot in hip-hop who`s the man and in this case, we`re asking everyone who`s the tan? That`s actually the headline on the screen right now, Howard. And look, I don`t want to be cheap here and I don`t want to be too tough on you, Howard. You`re a politician, you can take it. Obviously, you ran the party and a state. But it`s come to our attention as part of our journalistic process here which we do, that this tan judgment call has been exercised by you as well. We are looking at actual archival footage here

Howard Dean, 2013, in a tan suit. What if anything can you say, sir?

DEAN: I say if this puts me in the same company as Obama and Biden, I am delighted. I tried to get into that company, but the voters didn`t have it.


CARLSON: You have my vote, Howard.

MELBER: Wow, what a great -- look at that. What a great answer off the top of your head. It is true. It takes more than a tan suit to get into the White House.

DEAN: That is true.

MELBER: And we think we`ve given this enough time but the right amount of time on a Friday.

Howard and Margaret, I want to thank both of you as well as being such a good sport.

We have a lot more in the program. In fact, Governor Dean on a more serious note was talking about authoritarian. Well, is a MAGA activist now vowing to take everyone back to the Capitol? We have a special report on this, why it matters.

We`re also going to tell you why Matt Gaetz has turned on the old platform he used to use, trashing FOX News as he still is caught up in that sex trafficking probe, and a lot more. So stay with us.



MELBER: Most of the indicted MAGA rioters are still awaiting trial for their alleged crimes at the Capitol. But other MAGA leaders are already planning a new Washington event.


MATT BRAYNARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOOK AHEAD AMERICA: I`m actually going to make some news on your show today. We have our next rally planned. It`s in the middle of September. And what`s going to define it is where it`s going to take place. We are going back to the Capitol right where it started. And we`re going to push back against the phony narrative that there was an insurrection.


MELBER: A MAGA leader talking to Steve Bannon there. It`s a cycle of menacing plotting followed by lies and denials about the plotting from the people who did it. Now it is legal for Americans to go to peaceful marches at the Capitol. But this new push comes on Steve Bannon`s show, the same place where he literally told his fans on the eve of the insurrection, quote, "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow." What did he know?

They`re also signs that this is about more than criminal defendants denying wrongdoing. And it rather reflects a much wider loser mentality within the GOP mixed with authoritarianism. Let me explain. What we`re seeing here in the blueprint is that many Republicans expect to lose key races in the future including potentially presidential races, and as they brace for their expected electoral loss as losers, people who think they`re losers, lost recently, getting ready to lose again. So that`s the loser part.

They are embracing Donald Trump`s authoritarian bent. So, they are losers who expect to lose and then are trying to find ways to plan to steal the elections that they would otherwise lose. It`s both things together. So last time, a lot of the attacks on the 2020 results did look fringed even, to be clear, in parts of the Republican Party.


It was not as if everyone in the party was signing up to overthrow the election, although we saw how fast and furious the big lie spreads. But if you think back to those key weeks after the loss for Donald Trump, it was Giuliani giving press conferences. There wasn`t an obvious public path to actually getting a result changed through our system, and they didn`t do that that time. But now whether you`ve heard about it or not, Republicans are already passing these partisan laws that open wider paths for politicians to interfere on elections and maybe overturn the voters` choice.

The plan looking like it would only be used by Republicans in red states where they have the state control if they lost the presidential results in that state. One elections expert says this is a road map for a coup that would claim to be respectable. Overwriting democracy with neatly filed legal briefs instead of Capitol violence.

This is real. This is all unfolding in public right now and from legal experts to journalistic scoops, it`s a thread many have been exploring including our own colleague Chris Hayes and some coverage right here on THE BEAT. The signs are clear. It`s time to be vigilant.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S ALL IN HOST: Donald Trump`s failed coup was worse than we thought. The unnervingly plausible path to steal the election. I frankly don`t have the word to describe what a cataclysm this all would have been.

MELBER: An unpunished thwarted coup becomes a training exercise.


MELBER: And boy, are they training. Meanwhile some of the most influential voices on the right like Tucker Carlson are using their platforms to go way farther than you`d ever expect someone who talks about law and order, or America first, because they are leaning on foreign autocrats to normalize this stuff, to normalize election interference, to normalize the idea that maybe regular elections aren`t as important as you are always told your whole life ever since the founding fathers. And Tucker hit a new low here just fawning over Hungary`s widely condemned autocratic leader.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: You`ve got an election coming up in April. Are you worried that there will be international interference in your election in Hungary?

VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARIAN: That will happen. We are not worried. We have prepared for that.

CARLSON: When the president of the United States describes you as a totalitarian thug, which is a very serious thing to say about somebody, I would note, I mean, that suggests that, you know, why wouldn`t the Biden`s State Department work to prevent you from being reelected.


MELBER: You`ve got someone there who`s defended all of the Ukrainian-style Trump interference now throwing that at this administration with no evidence.

The larger picture is even more disturbing because it`s these new reports that I mentioned, journalistic scoops like in the "Times" about how Trump got very far in trying to plot what experts called a coup, pushing the Justice Department to interfere in Georgia. We don`t know if there are other states involved. We don`t know the whole story.

We do have a constitutional scholar here and a journalist who knows the MAGA world to get into exactly what this is and how to defend democracy when we`re back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Akhil Amar, renowned constitutional scholar at Yale Law School, he`s the author of many books including "The Words That Made Us: America`s Constitutional Conversation," and Vicky Ward, investigative reporter and the best-selling author of "Kushner, Inc." She knows her way around MAGA world whether she likes it or not, but she`s a fair journalist so she`s neutral on the issue.

Welcome to both of you. I say that deliberately because the professor will handle the ticking time bomb that appears to be in our constitutional structure, but we start with you, Vicky, on when exactly in this world that you profile, when is it that rank appeals to authoritarianism and overthrowing elections became more popular among some, not all, but some in the Republican Party?


VICKY WARD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, I think the interesting thing, Ari, is that actually it`s since President Trump left office that the Republicans have now, as you`ve pointed out, basically taken down any guardrails that did exist while he was in the White House. And you know there were a few, when I wrote my book about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, there were moments where, you know, the sheer bureaucracy of government did slow President Trump down.

They didn`t stop him from his wildest impulses but there was debate, people like General Mattis, Rex Tillerson, (INAUDIBLE), whether it has to do with our foreign policy or whether it has to do with the Paris climate accord, they slowed him down. It was the equivalent of the seven-second delay.

Now there is no barriers, not just between Trump and crazy, but between Trump and authoritarianism. Trump running the Republican Party, running these states like he was running his family real estate office in New York. It`s really worrying.

MELBER: Yes, and that goes to just how wide this report could be.

And Professor Amar, Trump was basically late to a plot that we are now seeing more and more evidence of that had he hit it a little bit earlier where part of his mechanism was not just lying on lie and fomenting final rallies, but literally trying to take over the mechanisms in states like Michigan and Georgia where he could have had what he would call a dual outcome. One result said Biden, the other said Trump, let`s go Trump. And that that would have some sort of color of law.

Walk us through how the Constitution even affords that to be technically possible or whether you see a real warning shot here in future elections?

AKHIL AMAR, YALE UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: He wasn`t actually even very late to the party. He was early to the party. He was talking about locking her up, that is his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, in 2016 before he was even elected. And he wouldn`t pre-commit to accept the results of that election which he ended up winning in the electoral college, although losing in the popular vote, which is of course not the legal test. The popular was not the legal test.

So he`s done so many things it`s just hard to remember them all and have a proper historical perspective but he began this even before his election and then in July, 2020, just a year ago, he floated an idea on Twitter of postponing the election, using the excuse of COVID, precipitating an extraordinary op-ed by the former -- by the co-chair and co-founder of the "Federalist Society" to write an op-ed in "The New York Times" calling for his impeachment and saying this is literally what fascists do.

Steve Calabrese who`s a grandfather, was in fact an anti-fascist leader in Italy, so Steve doesn`t the word fascist lightly. He actually voted for Trump in 2016, as he has said in this op-ed, but he called for Trump`s impeachment if Trump kept talking about delaying elections. That`s July. And then when he lost the election as he anticipated losing because he kept bad-mouthing the election even before it had happened then he didn`t want to accept the results and he believed in making America great again, you have to see how that`s the exact opposite of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1864, he thinks he`s going to lose the election and yet he holds it fair and square. And John Adams was not a perfect specimen, but he accepted the verdict of the American people and he yielded. And Thomas Jefferson got a little hot under the collar in 1801 but at the end of the day he did not march on Washington with troops as he actually at one point thought about doing. Mid-February 1801.

So there have been leaders before who`ve thought about this, but no one`s ever done anything like Trump. And if you believe in making America great, you have to pay attention to Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln at their greatest.

MELBER: So, in a nutshell, does the Constitution allow the Republicans to do what they appear to be planning to do in some of these states? Do you worry about a dual outcome where the state legislatures try to steal the results in the future?

AMAR: Well, if he -- if they do think in advance of the election, that`s permitted, the electoral college, the Constitution allows states to -- in theory a state could say we the state legislature are going to decide the outcome of the contest but they`ll have to do it before the election and they`ll have to pay a huge political prize if they do that because the voters on election day aren`t really, you know, are going to be very pleased about being disenfranchised.


Only -- after 1828, only one state tried to choose its electors by state legislature rather than letting the people vote. That was South Carolina between 1828 and 1860. And that`s because of slavery. The South Carolina legislature was very malapportioned toward the pro-slavery parts of the state. But no state has ever done something like that since -- apart from South Carolina since 1828. So, states could try to do that but, oh boy, you know, if I`m a voter in Michigan, do I want to allow my state legislators to disenfranchise me that way?

But what Trump tried to do last time around was change the rules after the game and you can`t do that.

MELBER: Right.

AMAR: You know, when the ball is in the air, you can`t move the goal posts.

MELBER: Right, so let me bring in Vicky on just the final point here which is, I mean, the professor with a very erudite and sobering account here reminds everyone that while there are some levers of push back and there are certainly limitations, some of this could possibly happen.

Vicky, do you see anything in the Republican Party pushing back against this or does it have to kind of shake itself out as long as there is MAGA in charge?

WARD: Well, the only people pushing back against it are Liz Cheney and Adam Kinsinger. And, you know, what`s really problematic is that Trump has a lot of money, $102 million. You know, he`s now floating this idea of ID cards. Mark Meadows has been out there talking about his Cabinet. And I think that`s -- you know, he`s living in an alternate reality that unfortunately is a reality or it seems to be that way.

MELBER: Yes. Well, I`ll tell you what, you know, for viewers who`ve been with us the whole hour, I`ll tell you this. The tan suit may have been a little bit of a Friday upper. Here we have a little bit of a downer, and then the American spirit, the question is, as the professor posed, what do you want to do about it? Do people want to stay active and vote and stay vigilant?

I want to thank Professor Amar and Vicky. I`m going to have you back later in the show for something special. More on the Friday vibes. We zig-zag.

Up ahead, the story I mentioned, Republican Matt Gaetz, he has a media fiasco and an open sex crimes probe. We`ll explain the latest when we return.



MELBER: MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz taking time out from what has been an expensive battle while he`s dealing with accusations of criminal sex trafficking, to start a podcast, as one does if you`re not also busy with your day job working for your constituents. Gaetz is using this new video podcast format to take aim and settle scores with basically the platform that made him famous, FOX News.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I have many friends still in FOX News. And I enjoy our discussions whether they`re on air or off air. That said, FOX News isn`t what it used to be.


MELBER: Certainly, isn`t what it used to be for him because he can`t get on there anymore. And the TV style banner has reinforced the point FOX News fails, FOX News isn`t what it used to be, shoutout to writing the chyrons.

Now Gaetz has not been on the network since what was a widely panned and bizarre interview with Tucker Carlson, and that was all before Gaetz had appeared on FOX a record 310 times. It really made him famous and got him where he was politically because it`s how Trump noticed him as well.

Now like many Republican officials, he was reportedly trying to get a job at FOX if he left Congress before his recent troubles.

Now why are we discussing all this? Because it is larger than Matt Gaetz who, as I mentioned, denies all wrongdoing in that open probe, he exemplifies a certain kind of lawmaker in the Republican Party who has ascended and who doesn`t just see media as a way to push a political agenda, or have a backup plan if his political career ends, but rather that seems to be the goal of the whole career.

And that means a lot of trolling. Going so far over the top that honestly, it`s exactly what would have seemed like parody even recently in American life. Take a look at how the then character of Stephen Colbert used to open his comedy show when he pretended to be a right-wing media figure and think about the character of Matt Gaetz opening his podcast now.


STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: This is the Colbert Report.

GAETZ: Welcome, my fellow patriots, you are in the right place. This is the movement for you. I`m a cancelled man in some corners of the Internet. They aren`t really coming for me. They`re coming for you. I`m just in the way.


MELBER: When satire becomes reality is the joke on us? Well, for answers, we turn to Michael Hirschorn, he`s a contributing editor at the "Atlantic," where he writes smart pieces. His comedy "Kill Chain" documentary in election security was nominated for an Emmy. And in lesser parts of his career, Michael, we should note you also are one of the innovative creators of this celebrity-reality TV genre. So when they go high, well, you bend low, if you will.

Good to have you here and all of the above, man.

MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Good to be here and I apologize for everything.


MELBER: Well, I mean, you made "Flavor of Love" which a lot of people liked. So, I say that by way of you being in our view one of the most perfect guests to this. Your reaction to what we just saw.

HIRSCHORN: Well, I listened to the entire podcast just so everyone else didn`t have to. And, you know, he has Marjorie Taylor Greene on for like half of it. They`re kind of the Roslyn Krantz and Gilbert Stern of the MAGA movement. I found it pretty remarkable and fascinating as a kind of document look into where Maga is and where trolling is because trolling is now become kind of a very sophisticated art form, and I have to say Matt Gaetz is quite good at it.

MELBER: Explain.


HIRSCHORN: So, I think he`s very good at understanding the key tenets of trolling, one of which is never defend, always attack. The other of which is, and I think this is really a core element of MAGA doctrine is always find a way to make yourself the victim and appeal to the victimhood of your potential followers. The main problem with this podcast in addition to, you know, avoiding many of the key facts that are alleged against him is that he is ultimately completely sentimental.

He`s ultimately kind of weak and also ultimately sort of turns everything into word salad. So none of it ultimately makes any sense but you`re left with a feeling. And he`s very good at leaving you with a feeling. Like this guy is a nice guy, why is everybody out to get him? I`m a victim.

MELBER: And what does it reveal about not only where the Republican Party is headed but sort of the wider political culture that everything is about content because we`ve all observed that we had a reality TV star get as far as he did, and then he governed office and more like a chief content officer than a chief executive, he`s de-platforming whenever one wants to debate about it. Clearly a huge impact on him because he didn`t have other moves. Trump has content.

The fact that you have all these mini-Trumps who are trying to create content, but it doesn`t seem to be moving quite as far. Do you see this as a cautionary tale for the Republican Party that`s narrowing its potential support, or do you see it as something where honestly, they only need to find one or two really charismatic, good creators so maybe the primary field is more likely to go to the Tuckers of the world than government people but they`ll find somebody.

HIRSCHORN: Yes, I think it`s likely just based off of thinking about the last few weeks that a Tucker has a better chance of being the next GOP nominee than a Ron DeSantis because I think if you take it as a kind of central Republican tenet that government really doesn`t serve much of a function, right? So, one of the points that Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene make in this podcast is these guys came into office with the goal of essentially whining down and eliminating the federal government.

You don`t believe in governing, why waste your time doing some governing? So really, they see they`re attacked as being to make their case that there should be no government. Make their case for their own bestiality, their own uselessness. And I think that`s potentially a powerful take.

MELBER: Yes. That makes a lot of sense. And I think you`re speaking about it quite precisely, even if you`re also a known critic of many of these people`s ideologies. I appreciate the analysis you bring, and I appreciate "Flavor of Love," Michael.

HIRSCHORN: Well, you`re very kind and it, you know, warms the becockles of my evil heart.


MELBER: As a reality TV producer and a writer, among other things, and an Emmy-nominated documentarian, you do a lot. Michael Hirschorn, thank you as always for coming on THE BEAT. Really interesting perspective that I don`t think people are hearing everywhere.

When we come back, I have for everyone a major new development regarding the heat, legal and otherwise, as well as a denial from Governor Cuomo. We`ll bring that to you next.



MELBER: Turning to an update on developing news and the report on sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. A former staffer has now officially filed for the first time a criminal complaint against Governor Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff`s Office. This comes after her accusations were described earlier this week by those investigators.


ANNIE CLARK, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY`S OFFICE LAWYER AND INVESTIGATOR: The governor hugged executive assistance number one and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. The governor held her so closely that her breasts were pressed against his body. And he sometimes ran his hands up and down her back while he did so. There were also several occasions on which the governor grabbed her butt. She was terrified that if she spoke out, she would lose her job. The governor repeatedly asking executive assistant number one whether she would cheat on her husband, saying to her, if you were single, the things I would do to you.


MELBER: Those statements there were made by the investigators with the attorney general`s office. And the attorney general was expressing this week as you may recall when we reported on this that much of this was viewed as a civil matter according to the attorney general. And that relates to the way that investigation was organized. What`s different here is the same allegation now being filed in a criminal context.

Now I want to bring you the full story, today Governor Cuomo`s attorney held a new press conference where they denied these allegations.


RITA GLAVIN, GOV. CUOMO`S ATTORNEY: There has been no open-minded fact- finding in this case. The investigation was conducted to support a predetermined narrative. This woman`s story which is stated as fact in the report is false. The documentary evidence does not support what she said.


MELBER: That is part of the denial from the governor`s team. New polling, though, shows a shift for many weeks, many in New York and especially in the Democratic Party appeared to be standing by Governor Cuomo among voters. But this polling you see shows 70 percent of New Yorkers saying he should now resign. More than half also say he should be charged with a crime which just gives you a sense of what people are thinking, although that`s obviously not up for any kind of vote.

And since the state attorney general`s report came out Tuesday, the governor`s brother, Chris Cuomo, who had discussed many of these issues including a rather positive interviews with Governor Cuomo when it was about COVID and those other issues, when it comes to this story, well, that anchor has not addressed the scandal in any way on his show.


State lawmakers preparing impeachment proceedings against Cuomo. That`s an open inquiry. He now has until next Friday to provide any additional evidence.

This is a story we`ve been reporting from its inception, and we will keep you updated on any developments.

Now coming up, when we return, we have a very special conversation with the Biden agenda going full force into tomorrow, and our final coda on Chuck Schumer showing Mitch McConnell who`s the boss.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT so you know it`s time to "Fallback."

And boy, do we have great guests tonight. Oscar-nominated actor, Chazz Palminteri. You know him as a Bronx legend from starring with Robert DeNiro in "A Bronx Tale," a film he wrote and produced, drawing on his own life to countless roles in classics you know like, of course, "The Usual Suspects." He`s starring as the crime boss Joe Bonanno on the epic series "The Godfather of Harlem." That new season premieres this Sunday. Check it out. He also has a new podcast called "The Chazz Palminteri Show," with new episodes out every single Monday. Pretty cool.


Also with us is a veteran journalist, Vicky Ward. She hosts her podcast, " Chasing Ghislaine." She`s a former senior reporter at CNN and writes (INAUDIBLE) like the "Huffington Post" and "Vanity Fair." The best-selling author of three books. You know her from earlier in the program.

Tonight, thanks to both of you for being here. How are you guys doing?


WARD: Great.

PALMINTERI: Good to be here.

MELBER: Good. Absolutely. Chaz, you`re legendary. I think everybody watching as that thing where either they exactly know you or they just know your face like I know him.

PALMINTERI: Yes. Probably.

MELBER: So, we`re thrilled to have you on. Thrilled to have you on. With "Fallback," you know, we talk about all kinds of stuff going on in real life, in the world, in the meantime. What might be on your fallback list?

PALMINTERI: Well, you know, I was reading this article about Frontier Airlines and there was a gentleman on there that allegedly was groping women and he punched the -- I think he punched one of the airline stewardess. And they had to hold him down, and they taped him with duct tape. They actually put duct tape to wrap him around his seat so he would sit down. And when they landed obviously, he was arrested but Frontier Airlines suspended the crew for doing that. And I think that`s --


PALMINTERI: -- absolutely wrong. I think it`s wrong. Now look, if he was in the terminal, yes, a policeman should have come. They shouldn`t have done that.

Guys, you`re in the air. In the air. All bets are off. You cannot do anything, I`m sorry, I mean, you see the way it`s going on right now. If you look at all these people starting fights, it`s insane. But in the air, no. No. Zero tolerance, whatever you can do to put that person down, you have to do.

Let me tell you. It`s a good thing I wasn`t on that airline. He would have gotten more than duct tape.

MELBER: Well, what would you have done?

PALMINTERI: I can tell you right now.

MELBER: He would have gotten more than tape, huh?

PALMINTERI: Yes. He would have gotten more than tape.

MELBER: I believe it. I believe it.


PALMINTERI: I mean, people`s lives are at stake here. You know, people`s lives are at stake.

MELBER: Yes. No, it`s funny --

PALMINTERI: He could have run over to the door and opened it.

MELBER: Sure. You know, we -- and, Chaz, we talk about this sometimes in the news and it gets very technical and rules and this and that, but you said it straight up. You`re in the air, which means you can`t call the cops until you land, so that`s like everybody`s in there together.

PALMINTERI: That`s it.

MELBER: This guy obviously allegedly sounded like he was up to no good and then you got to deal with it at an emergency level.

Vicky, what`s on your list?

WARD: Well, I kind of just add that, you know, this guy when I read that story, Chaz, this guy was only 22 years old and before he groped and assaulted the airflight attendants he said, oh, I have $2 million bucks and by the way my grandfather is an attorney. And I have to say, as a parent of two 18-year-old boys, if they had said anything like that and behaved like that, I`d have put duct tape over their mouths.

PALMINTERI: That`s right.

WARD: Yes. What -- so my list, Ari, is, you know, this article that appeared in "The Washington Post" in the style section about Joe Manchin`s mancave on a boat, and I don`t think elected officials should be having private meetings in mancaves that the public don`t know about. You know, we know about this now because Lindsey Graham turned out that he got COVID after attending a meeting on that boat.

And, you know, it`s apparently an open secret in Washington that there are many get-togethers on that boat. It`s not used for parties. "The Washington Post" piece even says that. It`s not like Joe Manchin has kids running around. It`s all fun and games. It`s a very serious backchannel place where Chris Coons has said that, you know, if it wasn`t for that boat and for that meeting place, the infrastructure bill might not have happened.

So the question is, these are elected officials, should they be allowed to have meetings like that without transparency?

MELBER: Right. Sort of secret huddles. Yes, I hear that. Now I got 20 second left, Chaz. I got to ask you, do you have a favorite movie or role? With all the stuff we you from, do you have a favorite?

PALMINTERI: Well, I mean, obviously "A Bronx Tale" because it was about my life. But also "Usual Suspects" and "Analyze This." You know, "Bullets Over Broadway," you know what I mean? I have been very fortunate. I`ve been, you know, been in a lot of great movies. So, I have -- you know, I`m having a great career so, but I like to just say something about what she said.

MELBER: Incredible career.

PALMINTERI: You know what, if Joe Manchin, if that boat, if he is paying for it himself, you know, as long as the government`s not paying for it, you know, I don`t know.

WARD: That`s fair.

MELBER: Yes. Straight forward. Well, Vicky and Chaz, we`ll have you back to debate all of this. We ended up doing a lot of transportation tonight.