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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, November 30, 2020

Guests: Darrick Hamilton, Juanita Tolliver


President Trump continues to try to deny the reality of his election loss. Joe Biden names his economic team. What help should Congress be sending to the American people during the pandemic?


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I'm Ari Melber. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.

We have a lot of news with everything kicking back off on this Monday evening, more states certifying their election results, Arizona locking in Joe Biden's win, as Donald Trump's legal team urged the state to simply overturn the results, which continues this string of baseless voter fraud claims they have made that have gone relatively nowhere.

Donald Trump also has a brand-new FOX interview where he, yes, lies about the election.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say that I was doing so much better than they thought that they panicked, and they started just doing ballot after ballot very quickly and just checking the Biden name on top.

They're voting for dead people. They found ballots under rocks that had the name Trump on them.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Is the DOJ investigating?

TRUMP: Missing in action. Can't tell you where they are.

Yes, I would consider a special prosecutor.


MELBER: He would, but he won't. The president does not personally hire special prosecutors to investigate elections where there is no underlying criminal fraud.

And, as we have reported, the door to that was already shut when Attorney General Bill Barr, who has been quite loyal to Trump and was, of course, his appointee, said they didn't see any evidence of voter fraud, let alone the kind of evidence to conduct an entire special prosecution.

Now, the president has trouble grasping some of these basic facts, as we're in a serious transition time. "The Washington Post" reporting he's been -- quote -- "brooding out of public view out after his election defeat," rageful and, at times -- and this is "The Washington Post"'s word -- -- quote "delirious."

Meanwhile, an ousted senior cybersecurity official, Chris Krebs, making news, telling CBS that Donald Trump's legal team's actions are now at this point becoming a potential danger to United States democracy.


QUESTION: As you watched Rudy Giuliani's news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, what were you thinking?

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: It was upsetting, because what I saw was an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people.

What it was actively doing was undermining democracy. And that's dangerous.


MELBER: Again, that is an official who served in the administration.

All of this comes as president-elect Biden is going forward, building his team. We have more on that later in the program. He also received his first presidential daily briefing on intelligence today, and he's making history in some other ways that we're going to get into.

Plus, I have a special report later tonight.

So, we think it's a big Monday night.

And we want to go right to our experts right now, MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson, a professor, and Juanita Tolliver, national political director for Supermajority.

Good to see you both.



MELBER: Hey, hey. Good to see you.

Juanita, you take it all together and the transition has continued to move forward. So, this looks a lot more like a story of political grievance and denial than something that is affecting the transition. Yet, at the same time, we showed that clip because that is a serious person with a serious job saying that -- again, this is his words, not mine -- his job was to worry about misinformation from around the world or bubbling up on the Internet, and yet the danger was coming from inside the White House.

TOLLIVER: Literally, Ari, the call is coming from inside the house.

Like, the potential threat to our democracy is coming from the occupant of the White House. And I think it further shows Trump's continuous disregard for pillars of institutions in our country, as well as the will of the voters. He's literally upset because voters in this country chose Biden and not him, and this is his ongoing temper tantrum that is, again, wasting millions of dollars in resources, going before and failing in front of judge after judge after judge.

And he's going to continue to keep doing this. What I do appreciate is that this temper tantrum is juxtaposed with the Biden/Harris transition team explicitly laying the foundation, naming nominees and getting ready to hit the ground running the day after the inauguration.

So, I think the American public, it needs to be watching that with bated breath, but also take into consideration the longstanding impact that this tantrum from Trump, these frivolous claims, are going to have on the impact of our democracy.


Jason, I hate to be simplest, but if you have ever been around children or siblings growing up, you're familiar with the silent treatment? There is a...


JOHNSON: Yes. I have been on the receiving end of that as a younger sibling, yes.

MELBER: Respect. Respect.


MELBER: There is a school of thought that, because Donald Trump is the loser of the race -- that's just a fact -- and that because there are just these sort of dwindling, tiny desk-style tantrums, that you could give him entirely the silent treatment.

And I wonder what you think about that politically. Journalists in the press have to figure out how they fairly cover things, including sometimes things that are lie, do you fact-check, do you ignore, case by case.

But I wonder what you think politically about that, because I'm about to show Senator Blunt here, a top Republican, echoing the misinformation in a way that suggests the silent treatment alone may be insufficient, if you have to confront a Republican Party that wants to play this out long term. Take a look.


DANA BASH, CNN: Do you accept the fact that Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States?

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): Well, we are certainly moving forward as if that what is going to happen on January the 20th.

The president wants to see this process play out. The president-elect technically has to be elected president by the electors. That happens in the middle of December.


MELBER: I will do the obvious part and then you can do the more interesting part, since I'm anchoring.

What the senator said was technically true, but complete trash.


MELBER: And the reason is, he has been a part of many other election processes. And he's never spoken this way before. And no other top Republicans have spoken this way.

So, while it is technically true, and I wouldn't call him a -- quote -- "liar" for that, it's trash because this isn't how any other president was dealt with. This is some sort of special, ridiculous misinformation for the benefit of this departing chief executive.

Jason, your view?

JOHNSON: Yes, and that's the problem, right?

So we can take this back to Chris Krebs' interview. I thought it was a great he interview. And he said, hey, look, we have paper ballots. I'm here to clean up the information. And, yes, it's great. We have got that paper trail, so Trump can do whatever he likes, right?

But here's the problem. The president just doing whatever he likes leads to Republicans acting the same way and sharing information and sharing misinformation throughout the country and attacking people and applying pressure.

And here's the thing, Ari. The reason that this is dangerous, not just in a political sense, but why it's a real danger to our democracy, is just like this has happened in tons of movies, right? You hire the former thief to try to break into your house to see how many different ways -- where the weaknesses are.

Every single time that Republicans enable Trump to engage in these ridiculous lawsuits, somebody smart out there is looking at weaknesses in our system, is looking at weaknesses in our judiciary, is looking at weaknesses and holes and gaps and loopholes.

So, following this and engaging in this kind of information simply clears the pathway for somebody smarter to try these sorts of stunts further on, when there isn't going to be an election that takes place during a pandemic, where we will have paper trails, where we can try to stop this kind of nonsense.

So, it is incredibly dangerous and it's anti-Democratic. And I think, as journalists -- and I'm glad you mentioned this -- I think, as journalists, it's important to note that, look, what the president is doing is corrupt, it is a violation of democracy, but it is also a warning for what the incoming administration has to be aware of when the next elections come around.

MELBER: All that very fair. Was that a reference as well to a T.I. song as well slipped in there?

JOHNSON: Either that or Joey, yes.


MELBER: He came to play. He's ready.


JOHNSON: I can't say the last name on TV, but you know.

MELBER: Juanita, I want to put up one other item, which goes to the political valence, the salience of these different leaders, because there is this fear of Trump, obviously, in parts of the party.

Very simply, Biden's favorability at this juncture -- could obviously change, depending on how he does as president -- but you have Americans here. That's a pretty big gap, because the president, whatever one thinks of him, is still enjoying the trappings and the respect of the presidency.

And Biden is doing something now -- again, if he falls and crashes, I will report that too, Juanita, but, right now, he's doing something that Donald Trump never did in four years, which is have an actual majority favorability rating.

TOLLIVER: You know the other thing that Biden's doing that Trump absolutely hasn't done yet? He's laying a foundation to respond to COVID-19, a pandemic that has claimed 267,000 Americans that Trump, instead of dealing with that, instead of focusing on relief and aid that he can provide to American families, has instead bailed out corporations and then focused all his energy and attention on this election and these unfounded claims.

So, Trump has demonstrated he's not here for the American public. Instead, what Biden is doing is already developing that rapport. He did it on the campaign trail. He's doing it now as he sets up his transition team and names nominees, that he is going to be here for the American public in a way that Trump never was.

MELBER: All important, and I appreciate the substantive reference on the COVID planning.

We have something very special coming up on that. I want to thank Juanita, who comes back later in the hour.

Jason Johnson, thank you as well.

We have our shortest break now, 30 seconds, but coming up, how Donald Trump spent millions of dollars that actually increased Biden's margin.

The special report I mentioned, it's about why there is hope with the COVID vaccine. It's about history's lessons and why medical experts say Trump's failures are a teaching opportunity, with so much change coming.

But coming up first, next, Errin Haines is here on the Biden transition, a diverse team and this talk of -- quote -- "losers anonymous."

We will explain when we're back in 30.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: My administration across the board is going to look like America.

My administration will look like America.

My administration, I promise you, will look like America, both as -- from vice president, to Supreme Court, to Cabinet positions, to every major position in the White House.


MELBER: As a candidate, Joe Biden constantly emphasized his diverse team and, at times, far more explicitly than most nominees in either party.

We are starting to see in its early days some of what that means to him. Take a look at, for example, the communications team, an important part of any White House. Announced now, it is an entirely female team. That is the first time in history either party has ever put forward this all-female leadership team to basically present the president and the administration to the nation.

Then there's the economic front. You have four women there, including Obama veteran Janet Yellen. Now, if confirmed, she would actually be -- get this -- the first woman to ever serve as United States Treasury secretary.

Now, there is also scrutiny today from Republicans and Democrats about policy. Of course, it's not just who's in charge. That matters for representation, but what are they going to do and how will they face a spiraling pandemic that continues to drive a recession affecting so many?

As promised, we turn now to Errin Haines, who has been at the intersection of these very issues. She's the founder and editor at large of The 19th, a newsroom that reports on gender politics and policy and diversity. And back with us, Juanita Tolliver.

Errin, I will go right to you on this.

On the one hand, this is what he drew attention to. And Joe Biden's also said explicitly, if he has a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, he plans to pick an African-American woman for that. On the other hand, as I emphasize as a reporter, it's early days, and there's a reason why they are politically leading with some of this.

We haven't seen the whole Cabinet. We haven't seen all the policies. What do you think is important on a night like tonight at this stage?

ERRIN HAINES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes, it's good to be back with you, Ari. And it is especially fitting that we would be together on Shirley Chisholm's birthday. She was born on this day in 1924.

And I mention her. And you know what a pioneer she was. She really declared with her candidacy in 1972 the idea that representation matters, both in terms of race and in terms of gender, and, really, the seeds that she sowed nearly half-a-century ago are some of the seeds that we're seeing bearing fruit, not only in the candidacies of a pioneer like Kamala Harris, who will be our first black woman vice president in the history of our country, but also in terms of some of these folks that you mentioned who will be taking these communications roles.

The fact that we women have to frequently quote women, not just by choice, as I do at The 19th, but really out of necessity, because there will be an all-women's communications team, but also several other women, this is really important because it shows that it's not just about symbolism, but it's also about substance.

These women and their lived experience and how that's going to shape policy matters. And them having that seat at the table or bringing that folding chair, as Shirley Chisholm said all those years ago, is really what black women, women of color, women in general have been fighting for, for all these years.

This is the centennial year of suffrage. And really understanding and taking our political power in this year in particular feels very relevant. And it's going to be, as you said, something that we have to continue to watch, because we are in early days.

There still are several Cabinet positions that have yet to be announced. But Joe Biden certainly seems to be indicating that he plans on dancing with the ones who brought him, and he recognizes that that is women and black voters in particular.

MELBER: Yes, and that's a huge part, as you mentioned, of the political coalition.

Juanita, sometimes, at a distance, people say, oh, well, isn't this the way things should go and continue on, that somehow this type of progress might be automatic? And yet, again, I'm just speaking factually, in America, that's not the case. That's not what history shows.

The Republican Party, for example, had a period where it was trying to have more diverse Cabinets. OK. Credit. Count it up. Donald Trump explicitly pushed that back, no surprise.

"New York Times," Trump's Cabinet was more white and male than any -- quote -- "first Cabinet since Ronald Reagan's," which includes, of course, other Cabinets in both parties.

So I'm curious what you think as well of the normalization of, for the past four years, Americans were looking at something that was Reagan era in its lack of diversity and lack of representation of the country coming from the federal government.

TOLLIVER: That lack of diversity and that lack of representation was directly seen in each and every policy coming out of the Trump administration.

And I think what the women who have been nominated to these historic roles take on is, they unapologetically bring their full selves to the table as well. And, Errin mentioned, on Shirley Chisholm's birthday, what a more fitting moment for them to be rolled out in this context, because each of these women, especially the black woman, have fully shown up as their full selves throughout their entire political career.

So extra snaps to them. I think we're going to see a lot of that translated in how they continue to communicate a narrative out of the White House that is ultimately going to continue to build on the trust, build on the rapport that they have already generated from the campaign, now going into the White House, which, essentially, they're building from scratch after Trump's administration.

MELBER: Now, can extra snaps be exchanged for extra stuffing or leftover cranberry sauce?


TOLLIVER: Absolutely, Ari.

MELBER: I'm just trying to learn, so I know what...


HAINES: I'm sorry. Hold on, Hold on, Ari.

Ari -- Ari, it's dressing. It's dressing, Ari. It's not stuffing.



HAINES: I don't want to get into this with you. I don't want to -- I don't want to -- I just -- we're on such -- we have been on such a roll this year. I don't want you messing up, talking about stuffing...

MELBER: I will say this. I have covered a lot of controversial...

HAINES: ... on national television with the viewers.

MELBER: Respect.

I have covered a lot of controversial issues in America. I don't want to get anywhere near that debate.

TOLLIVER: Nope, you don't.


MELBER: Before I lose both of you real quick -- I'm running over on time -- I do want to show Sunny Hostin, who's a talented attorney, big media figure, pretty famous from "The View," because she had some words for Donald Trump, because this thing has been dragging how long, complete with, as I mentioned, some of his recent remarks.

Take a look.


SUNNY HOSTIN, ATTORNEY: He is surprised all the attempts at voter suppression, all the attempts at gerrymandering, all the attempts at screwing around with the U.S. Postal Service, those attempts were ineffective, and our institutions held.

They really attacked black constituents, black voters. That was the plan. And it just didn't work. He just needs to go to Losers Anonymous. Like, he is really in a psychosis right now. I think that they need to stage some sort of intervention at this point.


MELBER: I am running over on time, but I wanted to get that in.


HAINES: Yes. Don't know what Losers Anonymous is, but, if that exists, I can -- that's good to know.

But I do think that voter suppression was something that did prove to be a galvanizing force for the very people that folks were looking to suppress this cycle, and I think that that is a lesson that voters should take going forward, and also candidates, in what they think they may be trying to do in continuing in those efforts.

MELBER: Yes, very fair point.

Errin Haines, Juanita Tolliver, going from the diversity of the new administration to the s that black voters and others specifically were targeted. And, as you say, and this time, it didn't work. Thank you both.

TOLLIVER: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have a lot more on the program.

Donald Trump's historic loss is actually getting worse. We will explain why and why it actually cost him an additional $3 million.

Donald Trump has been golfing and complaining. There is a contrast here with millions lining up for food. We have reporting on that and the economic plans.

But coming up next, one of our special reports that we have been hard at work for. We have it ready for you tonight. It's on the hope for a vaccine, why there are lessons in failure and also room to look at the light at the end of the tunnel.

That's next. I hope you stay with me.


MELBER: By now everyone's aware of the big news this month. Everyone knows things are really about to change, not overnight, not in one week, but after the proper amount of time, the absolute horror we have been living through will end. It will really be over, and one part of this exhausting era will be obliterated.

Now, you obviously know exactly what I'm talking about, this era ending, in a way, with a COVID vaccine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the biggest medical breakthroughs in a century.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Preliminary results show a new coronavirus vaccine from Moderna is 94.5 percent effective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pfizer says it has submitted its vaccine candidate to the FDA for emergency use authorization today.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: New hope today in the anticipated delivery of vaccines to the most vulnerable Americans as early as December 10.


MELBER: Yes, while we are also living through the political transition, these next few months are key for what you just heard there, one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in a century.

Now, remember that phrase tonight and that timeline, because our understanding of viruses and their resurgences draw on both science and history.

Dr. Fauci was discussing a resurgence this fall, that it could happen, before it happened.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The risk of there being a resurgent is real. When you get it down, you need to make sure it doesn't resurge. That will require the ability to test, to identify, to isolate, and to do contact tracing.

In my mind, it's inevitable that we will have a return of the virus, or maybe it never even went away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate.


MELBER: How did Dr. Fauci know this exact resurgence was so likely?

Well, for all of today's debates about facts, it's actually remarkable to just pause and just note for a second that science knows this much about even a new, novel, initially very confusing virus. How does it know this much?

Well, part of the answer brings us to tonight's special report. And it's not about politics, it's not about presidents, the one who lost or the new one coming in. It's about something important with huge global implications for your life and safety. It's about the future. And yet it's rooted in the past.

We have been living through a challenge unknown to most people living on Earth, a pandemic that swiftly spread around the world, shutting down countries large and small, rich and poor, kneecapping entire societies, regardless of whether their health care system was top-notch.

This is new to most of us. But it's not new to science or to this world we inhabit, because, 102 years ago, the world faced that pandemic of 1918. It was one of the deadliest events of the entire 20th century.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't know where it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a gradual, remorseless way, it kept moving closer and closer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you never knew from day to day who was going to be next on the death list.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were so many people dying that you ran out of things that you had never considered running out of before, caskets.


MELBER: The pandemic there killed 675,000 Americans, more than World War I, II and Vietnam combined.

Around 500 million people were ultimately infected. The best accounting estimates the death toll at somewhere between 50 and 100 million people across the world. And, as much as it ravaged, as scary as that was, at first, people had no idea what was happening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An autopsy revealed lungs that were swollen, filled with fluid, and strangely blue. Doctors were stunned. What in the name of God was happening to these lungs?


MELBER: Leading experts theorizing the 1918 flu started in the U.S., but it was wrongly and widely known as the -- quote -- "Spanish Flu."

That's largely because of the old problem of basically shooting the messenger. Journalists in Spain were some of the very first to report on the virus in Western media. Other countries were discouraging such reporting as somehow harmful to the ongoing war effort.

Now, this is one of the several things that have actually changed a bit for the better. Our science is more advanced, and, for all our problems, some of our freedom of speech is more advanced, because, this time, when the federal government led by President Trump tried to wrongly label this a -- quote -- "China virus," as if its initial origin should define the medical threat, well, that effort was far less successful than 1918.

And it was called out in real time as misleading and xenophobic.

Now, I mentioned the improving science since 100 years ago, but a lot of human psychology is still the same at its core, and it's worth noting how many people initially were in denial about COVID, the same way I just showed you about the other pandemic.

Despite all the extra information we have now, some remain resistant to basic protective measures. And that's a human challenge, regardless of available information. Historians and medical experts also note that the first reactions to the 1918 flu was confusion and denial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first reaction of the authorities from many of the most important ones was just flat-out denial. They didn't know what was happening. They didn't know what to do. And, therefore, they did the human thing, which is to say, it's not happening.


MELBER: That is a very human thing. If you can't deal with something, a scary, potentially uncontrollable virus, bad news you're not in charge of, even losing an election you didn't want to lose, well, many people will just initially say, this isn't happening.

But, of course, there is a difference between one person having that short-term emotional response and how we make policy as a nation or a world that literally controls life and death.

And that is another contrast to this last pandemic. And this may not get enough attention, but the independent and government experts who told truths, hard truths, right away this time. That includes, for example, Dr. Nancy Messonnier at the CDC. She warned in February, long before any of the quarantines or shutdowns that have now become somewhat normalized.

She warned then this virus would mean missing work, losing income, and that people should better face that fact immediately than live in denial. And it should not be forgotten the Trump administration rebuked her for impacting the stock market.

Thank goodness, though, we had these scientists to speak truth to power.


DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Secondary consequences of some of these measures might include missed work and loss of income. This whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe.

But these are things that people need to start thinking about now.

FAUCI: We're going to have a very tough winter in the next few months.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have.


MELBER: Now, it may seem kind of basic that we just want the government doctors to give out good medical advice. That's their job.

But this is where the breakthroughs in science do make such a difference, if we want to continue to get a better grasp and learn from history as we go through this next chapter.

During the last pandemic, even medical experts basically misinformed the public at times, because the science itself was so rudimentary. The U.S. surgeon general said there was -- quote -- "no cause for alarm" as long as people took precautions against the 1918 flu.

Another top official at the time dismissed it as -- quote -- "ordinary influenza by another name." Other officials and even newspapers downplayed the threat and they didn't want to run afoul of that federal pressure that I mentioned, because the government even indicted a Wisconsin newspaper for depressing morale by reporting about the pandemic.

We know those flawed pieces of medical advice were deadly wrong. Philadelphia, for example, went ahead with a war-related parade that put some of today's super-spreaders to shame. Within days, every bed in Philadelphia's 31 hospitals was filled, laying the groundwork for a massive death count.

Here is historian John Barry on that grim scene.


JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT INFLUENZA": There were over 15,000 people killed in Philadelphia from the pandemic. There were hundreds, literally hundreds of people dying every single day.


MELBER: It's a bleak parallel to today.

Of course, we have seen some American communities take COVID more seriously when it finally hits home.

Sickness and death, of course, will hit harder than any information, any warning, any PSA, and people learn the transmission process in real time.

Now, these pandemics are 102 years apart. But they both follow this wave pattern, spreading in the spring of 1918. And then, even after people did learn more about how to combat it and after it was discussed more, of course, in public, a second and worst wave in the fall.

Last time, the most deaths actually occurred -- keep this in mind for what we're about to live through -- most occurred across four months in the fall of 1918.

Now, I will mention death rates do reflect a range of factors, not just only the spread. Last time, once the reality set in, the pandemic was quickly part of the entire culture, with even nursery rhymes about how quickly influenza was flying into people's lives.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: I had a little bird. Its name was Enza. I opened up the window, and in flew Enza.


MELBER: In flew Enza.

However you can get anyone to understand, including kids, you try.

Now, many worry that, today, Americans are going through some kind of pandemic fatigue, even as we also intellectually know vigilance is more needed than ever.

One way to think about this is taking in some of these lessons from 1918, and the easiest one is a medical classic. First, do no harm. Avoid home remedies or rumors that are just not from vetted medical sources. The 1918 versions may sound somewhat ridiculous today, bloodletting, whisky, tree bark, recommending mercury, which can be poisonous.

Back then, one doctor was even on record recommending champagne, saying there is no finer pick-me-up after an attack of influenza than good fiz.

But before we sit here today and pass too much judgment on what people thought then, it's worth reflecting that similarly bad advice is really all over the place, from the Internet rumors about garlic to misinformation pedals from the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?

Because, you see, it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So, it would be interesting to check that.


MELBER: That goes to a piece of this which has gotten a lot of attention, leadership.

President Trump's documented COVID failures defined the end of his term, may define his place in history, certainly define much of the campaign. He followed the negative example of President Wilson, who was also downplaying the virus, one historian explaining, Wilson was absolutely neglectful of it.

Medical experts know that Trump's response is far worse, because, in contrast to Wilson, he had better medical information immediately available.

Another lesson, no matter what century we're living in, if a pandemic is spread by human droplets, you're safer avoiding droplets. If you're hiking alone in the mountains, great. If you're 10 feet from the nearest person, great. You don't need a mask at all times as some sort of medical fashion statement.

But, as soon as people are near, as you can see from this visual history, then it's time to wear a mask. That was some of the sound advice as far back as 1918. These pretty remarkable pictures tell the story.

And the lesson here on your screen is that you can still act as an individual to protect people around you and the wider public. We can all take some humility in this one, because what you're looking at is how people were doing this regularly back then, facing higher risk and more suffering and far less science and technology.

And, surely, if they can do it as you see here, 10 years ago, we can try to match their example today.

Now, another takeaway from 1918 is -- and this is the big one -- how pandemics end. That flu essentially had to burn itself out like a forest fire, with just horrific loss of life. And one big reason why was, they failed scientifically to find a vaccine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Science knew next to nothing about viruses at this time. The optical microscopes they had couldn't show you a virus. A virus is much too small for them.

These poor scientists were looking for a needle in a haystack, when they didn't know it was a needle they were looking for. And the needle was too small for them to see, so no wonder they didn't find it.


MELBER: Experts explained to us, how do you look for something you can't see? That's what they were up against.

And this lesson matters, because if you still hear loose talk about, well, just maybe let COVID run its course or herd immunity, we should listen to the doctors and these sort of medical historians, who carefully document why that is not anywhere near any type of outcome you would ever choose.

It was the last resort they lived through in 1918, and anyone who knows about it basically says you never want to live through that again.

And we have evidence that we don't have to, because, this time, the scientists in this world were actually able to sequence the COVID DNA within two weeks. And then there's this public race for the fastest vaccine in history, several companies, as you have probably heard, touting these breakthroughs, one seeking emergency approval for a vaccine.

That would make potential distribution as soon as within weeks, while most people will not likely have access to vaccines until far later in 2021.

Either way, experts say this vaccination timeline that we're looking towards is the best possible way to end the pandemic, even one that's been as difficult as this.

Now, there's no real reason to assume 2021 will be automatically better than 2020 or that this ends easily. Yet, just as the 1918 flu seeped into the culture and conversation, today's culture has been eying the end of this pandemic across TV, music, comedy, from Harlem's Dave East rapping, Super Cat, virus dropped, tour dates, moved them back, to Canadian sensation Drake dropping these hopeful bars heading into Thanksgiving.

These are brand-new lyrics that reference his earlier COVID era hit "Toosie Slide" -- quote -- "Now I'm giving house tours. Until it's back to world tours, play that mask off when they find the real cure."

Drake referencing a big hit from future, mask off. And while, yes, medical fact-checkers may note a vaccine is different than a cure, we all get the idea.

And if the prospect of a little light at the end of the tunnel, a day coming when we don't just do the house tour you see there, but we do world tours, if that makes restrictions a bit easier, then all the better.

So, I would just say let's all meet there when it's time and play that mask off when they do find the real cure.


MELBER: Further signs that Donald Trump has been overseeing an economic mess that president-elect Joe Biden will inherit, millions out of work, the pandemic wreaking havoc.

Donald Trump was golfing this weekend. Then he was complaining in public about the election. He was not, according to any public reporting, though, engaged in the talks about COVID relief, which matter so much right now.

Crucial measures are actually expiring at the end of the year, so this is exactly the kind of thing you needed to deal with, even during a transition. That includes the expanded insurance for people who lost their jobs for no other reason than these macro factors.

Meanwhile, something we have showed before, and we show you again right now, the absolutely massive lines at food banks across the nation.


RUTH CRAWFORD, FOOD RECIPIENT: You don't think of yourself as getting on a line. You don't think you're going to lose your job. But things happen.

DEBRA BRODERICK, FOOD RECIPIENT: If it wasn't for this place, we don't know, where would we get our food?

QUESTION: If it weren't for these sites, would you be able to get food on the table?



MELBER: That's just a little bit of us listening and reporting on what's really going on out there. That's the reality.

And that is what many, many people are living through. Then there are the financial markets, which are not relevant to everyone, but are relevant to policy. Take a look today. They have been down just a bit, but they end November posting the single biggest monthly gain since 1987.

And that goes to this disconnect with so many going hungry, and the Trump administration sitting out COVID relief talks. Advisers to Joe Biden concerned about a backslide soon or a double-dip recession, especially based on what may or may not happen in just these coming months of the recession.

We have a very special guest returning to THE BEAT tonight. Darrick Hamilton is an economist who worked directly on these issues. He even advised Kamala Harris as a senator. She's, of course, vice president-elect. He's also worked with Senators Sanders, Warren, and Booker. He's the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Race at The New School.

Good to have you back, sir.


MELBER: You work on the solutions. We will ask you the hard question.

With the markets up -- and we know how elites in Washington tend to react to that -- and so many people down and out, for no fault of their own, not about anything they did or chose, what are the best immediate solutions that you think should be on the table that maybe haven't been under the current president?

HAMILTON: You know, we have precedent. We have precedent in this pandemic. There are some silver linings.

The CARES package actually worked. So, you pointed out that it's about to end on December 25. Clearly, we need to expand it. But the precedent of sending direct checks to Americans actually worked. It's long overdue for another one to come. And we also need to think about a Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that workers where they are can maintain income and firms can keep them on their payrolls without displacing them.

And then an obvious one is to ensure that everybody has health coverage throughout this.

MELBER: Is there anything that's not currently on the table that you think should be?

I phrase it that way because some of what you're talking about is re-upping things that were initially bipartisan, like sending out the money, and then have just stalled. Anything otherwise big or immediate?

HAMILTON: The problem is, Ari, they stopped doing them, that we haven't passed another bill.

But there are certainly many things that we could be doing to make sure that, the next time we have a pandemic, we're not so vulnerable, like a federal jobs guarantee, so, as we talk about building back America, we can ensure that we do so, that every worker that desires a job can actually have a job. That's one example.

I mean, we can talk about making sure that everybody has access to an account, so that, when we do distribute checks for $1,200, that people can get them in an expedient way.

We know that, as a result of underbanking, that some businesses did not have the same access to the legislation that went into effect, as well as some individuals. So, in the 21st century, everybody should have an account.

MELBER: All makes sense and overlaps, at least conceptually, with some of what Yang was talking about, and he gained a lot more followers than some Democrats might have expected in D.C.

I want to put up a chart of how this is breaking out, which is what a lot of your work as an economist covers. But you can see here it's not an equal brunt, although there is serious financial trouble and food insecurity across the board. You see that.

But if you break it out, white Americans saying about half of them are experiencing that, black Americans, 66 percent, and a whopping 86 percent against Latino or Latinx. How do you account for that? What can be done about that?

HAMILTON: Well, the problem is that race is intricately linked to our political economy. And I know that's a jargony term, but here's the point.

The point is that we have a historical precedent of things like a racial wealth gap that not only leaves people vulnerable during an economic downturn, but in general. And we also know, during economic business cycles, that blacks are generally the first fired and the last hired.

Now, with the pandemic, almost everyone was fired.

MELBER: Right.

HAMILTON: But, as we begin to rehire Americans, the unemployment rate for black Americans ticks back up at a much slower rate than whites.

MELBER: Right.

HAMILTON: And that, again, is irrespective of things like education.

MELBER: Right.

HAMILTON: And I will make one other quick point, that people say, well, it's because of where blacks are distributed along in the skills dimension.

But these disparities not only remain with levels of education. They become more pronounced.

MELBER: Right.

HAMILTON: So, I think we need to grapple with this reality and recognize that we need policies to promote economic security for everyone from the public sector.

MELBER: All very important.

I have about 45 seconds, and I'm going to do you wrong by doing the trickiest question last, OK, Professor?


HAMILTON: I'm ready.

MELBER: A raging debate about public safety vs. quarantine -- new quarantine shutdowns that really do take people who aren't in the "creative class" -- quote, unquote -- who can't just work from home, and push them out of jobs in restaurants and other places.

We're seeing that debate in multiple parts of the country. Do you think that there's a way to do public safety and keep these people's jobs, or, given that there's no immediate relief, they just have to lose their jobs again? Because we are seeing reports of that, and a lot of controversy about that.

HAMILTON: The paycheck guarantee, to me, is the obvious solution for that problem.

We should ensure that workers are safe, first and foremost, but do so where they stay on the payroll, because what happens? If they get displaced, it's going to be more socially costly to rehire them. So, right now, we should definitely be having a paycheck guarantee.


And the debate in some places is where they're not getting the guarantee and they're getting furloughed or laid off because of quarantines, which, of course, have a high public safety justification, something we covered earlier in the program, but tough issues because there's, I think, tough human values on both sides.

I am out of time. Professor Hamilton, I hope you will come back, sir.

HAMILTON: Thank you. With pleasure.


MELBER: Thank you.


Another bad investment up ahead for Donald Trump. You will never guess where he actually burned $3 million -- coming up.


MELBER: Donald Trump lost the election. We have reported that. You know that.

What I have to report now relates to what Donald Trump has done, which is draw more attention to the individual state losses, because, after losing Wisconsin to Biden, Donald Trump, in contrast to most presidents or losing candidates, demanded a recount, a partial one. He wanted to pay less than what it would cost to do the whole state. So, he paid about $3 million for the partial recount.

And we can report, because they demanded it, it was done. And the results are in. The $3 million they spent resulted in a recount that, yes, created a tally with a few more votes for Joe Biden. You could call that a bad political investment for Donald Trump.

And, again, we're only reporting on it because it's what they demanded, and then it becomes the news of what happened in the recount.

Here is a Wisconsin elections official citing a determination of the recount and the election showing Biden's victory.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have examined the statement, and I'm now signing it, as the official state determination of the results of the November 3, 2020, election and the canvass.


MELBER: That may look fairly straightforward, even dry, but that is what democracy looks like.

And that is the result of what has been, as we have covered, a fairly unusual legal strategy, in this case, a very expensive reinforcement of that state loss.

I'm going to fit in a little break here at the end of the hour, but up ahead, we actually have some late-breaking news on the way that President Trump is pardoning Mike Flynn. This is new tonight. It's not just the initial news we broke last week.

That's when we come back.


MELBER: Welcome back.

Today, the Justice Department released this copy of convicted former Trump aide Michael Flynn's pardon. We will show it to you. They ask a federal court to dismiss the case against him as moot. And they give him this full and unconditional pardon -- that is, of course, for making false statements to the federal government -- all of this signed, as you see, by Donald Trump.

That is an update to that news, and we wanted to show it to you. As you know, pardons are for criminals.

That does it for me.

"THE REIDOUT" starts now.


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