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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/5/21

Guests: Tina Smith, Adam Jentleson, Karina Ruiz, Kate Klonick, Benjamin Crump, Ron Lacks


Oil spill highlights the need for clean energy policies. Biden pitches infrastructure bill in Michigan. GOP tries to dine-n-dash on debt grown by Trump. McConnell urges Democrats to overcome his obstruction.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid starts right now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hi. How are you doing? Very good and positive note, thank you so much, Ari, I really appreciate it.

MELBER: Absolutely.

REID: All right. Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with multiple disasters facing our nation, including one that`s both shocking and sad. California is dealing with what officials are calling an environmental catastrophe after 126,000 gallons of heavy crude oil spilled off the coast of California this weekend. The oil seeped into a marsh on Huntington Beach that`s home to around 90 species of birds and take a look at this, dead fish and birds are washing up on California`s coast.

We still don`t know the long-term effects on human health, what those will be, but this spill is one of many reasons why the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and it underscores how important it is for Congress to pass some sort of climate action. The build back better act would be a nice first step. It would allow us to invest in clean energy and climate research and preparedness as well as environmental justice initiatives, maybe save some birds.

But Democrats are still working out the details over the price and what exactly would be in the bill. And we already know that former coal company owner Joe Manchin has issues with the provision in the bill that would incentivize companies to shift toward clean energy.

In a speech today in Michigan, President Biden stressed the importance of passing both infrastructure bills.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: These bills are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another. These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They`re about opportunity versus decay. They`re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening. To support these investments is to create a rising America. America is moving. To oppose these investments is to be complicit police in America`s decline.


REID: Now, we cannot stress enough that it is what is in the bill, not the price tag that matters. But there was some progress last night when progressives said that they would support whatever price tag that Biden can get the moderates to agree to.

But we`re facing a far more imminent threat as the GOP continues to hold the American economy hostage. We are now just 13 days away from defaulting on our nation`s debt because Republicans are making this entirely about politics and seem to have no regard for the fact that a failure to raise the debt limit could plunge the United States into a deep recession. They also don`t care that the debt went up by almost $8 trillion under Trump, which is part of the reason Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling in the first place, to pay for spending under Republicans` dear leader.

It`s kind of like they went to dinner, ordered lobster and steak and caviar and when the bill arrived, told the Democrats, who just ordered a sensible salad, that , hey, it`s all on you. You have the credit card. You pay for it.

You might know that behavior is dining and dashing. Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to make this as hard as humanly possible for Democrats. As The New York Times put it, he appears to want to sow political chaos for Democrats while insulating himself and other Republicans from an issue that has the potential to divide. He told Democrats they need to raise the debt limit by doing it on their own. Okay. But the Democrats plan to block Democrats -- Republicans plan to block Democrats when they try to do just that tomorrow. Instead, McConnell wants to force Democrats to cram the debt limit into their already fraught negotiations over reconciliation on top of build back better.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Look, they said they`re perfectly prepared to do the job themselves. The easiest way to do that is through the reconciliation process, as I pointed out for two months.

REPORTER: How is that easier than Republicans just not filibustering it and then passing it with 50 votes?

MCCONNELL: That would require getting consent from every single Republican to lower the threshold to 51. I can`t imagine that would happen.


REID: Well, he`s -- too bad there is not a leader of the Republican Party who could make that happen. Democrats are considering a carve-out that would allow them to bypass the filibuster. But, of course, Joe Manchin has said he is not willing to do that because, of course.

With me now is Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota. So, Senator, you heard Mitch McConnell sounding as if well, you know, that would require Republicans to some of them to allow Democrats to do it. I mean, I can`t imagine who might be able to influence Republicans to do that. Maybe, I don`t know, Mitch McConnell. Your thoughts?

SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN): Well, Democrats are prepared to raise the debt ceiling and to do the right thing and if the Republicans aren`t going to help us all, they just need to get out of the way. And Mitch McConnell`s ploy here is nothing but another cynical effort by McConnell to take something that is about the good of the country and turn it into a political cudgel.


We just cannot let him do this. If the Republicans are not going to just get out of the way and let us pass this debt ceiling, lift this debt ceiling, then we`re going to have to do it on our own, really on our own. And it`s just so ridiculous.

I listened to what you`re saying, Joy, and it`s hard to not laugh at it but this is the full faith and credit of our country. This is about whether veterans` benefits and Medicare payments and social security gets paid. This is about whether our economy, as we are teetering right now in the midst of COVID, gets thrown into a recession. It is not a laughing matter and it is just really outrageous that McConnell continues to use the Senate rules to wield his political power and I think the Democrats have to stand up to him.

REID: And it`s not just Mitch McConnell. This is Lindsey Graham talking about the real goal of allowing a default, a defaulting on the debt. He says a vote to set a specific dollar figure opens the door for Republicans to launch attacks on Democratic incumbents in next year`s midterms. He told Politico, I mean, I`m not going to be a complete A-hole but I`m going to make them take some tough votes.

That`s, essentially, what Republicans are doing is they want senators who are up for reelection next year to have to raise the debt limit on their own so that then Republicans can turn around and say, aha, they`re the bad with the nation`s money, they`re the big spenders, aha, and sort of exempt themselves from it. It`s a cynical strategy.

But if we go over the debt limit -- I mean, Mitch McConnell is rich, he`s going to lose money too. Republicans, like Mitt Romney, they`re going to lose millions and millions of dollars too. They`re going to hurt themselves.

Inside the Democratic caucus, do you all have a plan to raise the debt limit right now? And if so, what is it?

SMITH: Well, let me just tell you that -- I just want to point out something about this. What McConnell is trying to do here is he wants us to have to take votes to raise the debt limit by a specific amount because he thinks that if we do that, that it`s going to distract America from the reality that under Donald Trump, the debt went up by almost $8 trillion. He wants to distract us from that. He doesn`t want us to notice that he has himself voted to raise the debt limit 32 times.

So, that is the cynicism of this effort and the reality also that he is using the financial help, not only of our country, which is a huge deal, but also the financial help of health of American families. He is using this as a partisan weapon. And that is what people hate about politics and we are not going to let him get away with it.

REID: But is there a plan, a specific plan?

SMITH: Well, I mean, I can`t talk specifically about what the plans are, Joy, but what I can tell you is that Democrats are not going to let the United States of America go over the cliff of the debt ceiling. We`re not going to let that happen.

REID: Well, because Democrats ordered the sensible salad and actually pay the credit card bills that are going to pay the bill. That is the way it works with the dine and dash people on the other side of the aisle. Senator Tina Smith, thank you very much, Senator, I appreciate you.

Okay. On a flight the D.C. yesterday, a DACA recipient named Karina Ruiz asked Senator Kyrsten Sinema multiple times with no luck if she would commit to voting on a pathway to citizenship in the reconciliation bill. Ruiz was part of a protest on Capitol Hill today demanding that pathway to citizenship. It`s a provision that was originally in the build back better plan that the Senate parliamentarian has twice shut down.

I am joined now by Karina Ruiz, as well as Adam Jentleson, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Executive Director of Battle Born Collective.

And, Ms. Ruiz, I really want to get to talk to you for a second, but I just have to very quickly ask Adam Jentleson a question based on what we just heard from Senator Tina Smith. Have you ever met the voter whose sole voting issue is the specific amount of debt that the United States owes, that debt is their -- that`s their only issue?

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO SEN. HARRY REID: No, absolutely not. And especially, I mean, we`re dealing with numbers at this point that verge on the comical, you know? And so Democrats are going to do this (INAUDIBLE). I`m going to sound like I`m joking here but I`m not. They should raise it to a gazillion dollars. I mean, they should raise it to the point where this is no longer an issue, that we don`t have to worry about it, we don`t give Republicans the leverage to force these kinds of crises in the future, and raise it to something silly, that sounds silly. You can`t put Democrats raise the debt by gazillion dollars in an ad, no one would believe is. So I think both for the sort of good policy and good politics here is to just take the opportunity to get this thing out of the way and I don`t think voters will barely notice that it happened come November next year.

REID: Correct, with a $28 trillion, whatever budget, people are not going to notice. But one of the things -- Ms. Ruiz, thank you for being on the show -- that people do care about is policy. People want to know what someone did and that`s how they evaluate whether they`re going to vote for them again, reelect or elect them in the first place. They also don`t vote for this parliamentarian who keeps on telling Democrats that they may not put a path to citizenship in the bill.


No one knows who that lady is. And what do you make of the fact Democrats are willing to let the parliamentarian tell them that they cannot get a path to citizenship for people who need it?

KARINA RUIZ, DACA RECIPIENT: That they`re using it as an excuse. And it is wrong. They have promised us that they will something. I know Senator Sinema organized, marched in 2010 to (INAUDIBLE) of immigrants and advance (INAUDIBLE) and they cannot move the parliamentarian as an excuse. We know they have the power to ignore this opinion from this parliamentarian, who is just a consultant. We actually know that there are other (INAUDIBLE) that believe that the reconciliation bill can include immigration, especially the registry (ph), which we have talked about that it`s just moving a date before.

REID: Did you get Senator Sinema to interact with you at all because she doesn`t talk to a lot of people? At any point, did you feel that she was listening to you?

RUIZ: I didn`t. I think she was trying to ignore me, trying to just get me out of there, like she felt uncomfortable. I can tell. And it wasn`t my intention. My intention was not to make her uncomfortable. My intention was to be heard. I needed her to commit to making sure that we`re not going to be left out again, like before in 2017, 2010, like we have been left out over and over again. And my intention was to have a commitment from her to work on this issue of immigration, and she didn`t.

So that`s why I took action with (INAUDIBLE), another group, and I decided to shave my head as a sign of commitment in the (INAUDIBLE) AIP communities. It is an honorable thing to do and show her commitment to the fight. So I just wanted to show her what commitment looks like by doing that. I love my hair and I decided to let go of it because of the importance, my life is in the line and the lives of many people.

REID: Indeed. Adam, politics is about choices and it`s about what you`re willing to go to the mat and fight for. Democrats are the party of the rising American majority, people of color, younger people. You know, single women vote for Democrats more than they vote for Republicans, people whose reproductive rights are at threat. These are people counting on them.

And so, you know, what do you make of the way that they`re doing these choices? It`s not clear to me that they`ve even started writing this reconciliation bill. All 50 Democrats voted for this top-line number initially, this $3.5 trillion. Now, they`re fighting each other rather than getting back to the point, which is people like Ms. Ruiz are the kinds of people, her family, those are the kinds of people who they, in theory, represent. How could they fight this differently, in your view? What could they be doing differently in the Senate, because I think the House is doing a pretty decent job?

JENTLESON: Yes. I mean, what I would say is that I think most Democrats are there. I think you see that in the House. And in the Senate, you have 48 Democrats out of 50 who are for making the right choices. I think that if this could pass with 48 votes, it would pass at about $3.5 trillion, right where it was set in the first place, which would be robust enough to deal with all of the crisis we face.

The problem s, we have two Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who are making this difficult, making this extremely difficult. And in particular, Senator Sinema is refusing to tell us exactly what she wants. She is blocking the bill without being specific about what she wants. And that is why you`re seeing the rising anger that I think is very legitimate about this refusal and this choice to block these urgently needed programs. And that is why you`re seeing actions like Karina`s, which was very brave and profound and I thought revealing of Senator Sinema. And you`re seeing groups launch names like that are dedicated to getting passed what they need here.

And I think that is the difference. You`ve got 48 Democrats who are ready, you have two Democrats that are not. That is a problem.

REID: Yes or no question very quickly, because we`re out of time. My producer is telling we`re out of time, Adam. Do you believe that in the end, the debt limit will be added to the existing reconciliation bill and that that will pass?

JENTLESON: I think the Democrats will raise the debt ceiling.

REID: Okay. That`s not the same thing but we`re going to bring you back. We`re going to get into that more. It`s a whole long conversation. Karina Ruiz, thank you very much. Adam Jentleson, thank you very much. Please come back soon.

Up next on THE REIDOUT --



FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: No one truly understands the destructive choices made by Facebook except Facebook.


REID: The Facebook whistleblower`s bombshell allegations the social media giant turned a blind eye to all kinds of destructive misinformation in the name of profit.

Plus, her cells have been used for some of the biggest breakthroughs in medical research, earning billions for biotech companies. Now, the family of Henrietta Lacks is seeking justice.

And tonight`s absolute worst drops the F bomb while preaching civility in our national discourse.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



HAUGEN: I`m here today because I believe Facebook product`s harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.


REID: Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen spelled out her allegations against the dangerous effects of the social media giant she called morally bankrupt in Congressional testimony today. The former product manager told senators that Facebook prioritizes profit over public safety in steering users toward toxic content detrimental to the mental health of young users and undermining our democracy.



HAUGEN: Facebook`s own research says they cannot adequately identify dangerous content. And, as a result, those dangerous algorithms, they admit, are picking up the extreme sentence, the division.

They can`t protect us from the harms that they know exist in their own system.


REID: Haugen also filed also filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing Facebook of misrepresenting problems with its platforms to investors.

One of her eight complaints outlines how Facebook knew it had a problem. The complaint argued that Facebook`s own experiments show that its algorithm can veer people interested in conservative topics into radical or polarizing ideas and groups and pages.

It cites a Facebook study that new users who followed -- quote -- "verified high-quality conservative pages" such as FOX News, or the former president, saw polarizing content within a day and -- quote -- "conspiracy recommendations after only two days. It took less than a week to get a QAnon recommendation."

In her testimony, Haugen described -- Haugen expanded on her allegation that the company removed safeguards that allow misinformation to spread after the election.


HAUGEN: Facebook has been emphasizing a false choice. They have said the safeguards that were in place before the election implicated free speech.

The choices that were happening on the platform were really about how reactive and twitchy was the platform, right, like, how viral was the platform? And Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous. And because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the celebration of the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults.

And the fact that they had to break the glass on January 6 and turn them back on, I think that`s deeply problematic.


REID: For its part, Facebook released a statement after Haugen`s testimony, calling her a former product manager at Facebook "who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision point meeting with C-level executives and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question," adding, "We do not agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about."

Joining me now is Kate Klonick, assistant professor of law at St. John`s University, and NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins.

Ben, we have been talking about a lot of this misinformation spread when it comes to things like this fake version of Critical Race Theory that`s been spread, anti-mask stuff, and QAnon. We have talked a lot about QAnon.

Let me read you a little bit more from this SEC complaint. And this report on the QAnon threat specifically says: "Through most of 2020, we saw non- violating content promoting QAnon spreading through our platforms. Belief in the QAnon conspiracy took hold in multiple communities. And we saw multiple cases in which such beliefs motivated people to kill or conspire to kill perceived enemies."

This is some dangerous stuff, Ben. Your thoughts.

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, I want to note this, that we have known this for a very long time.

We have known this for the last few years. And it`s great that a whistle- blower is coming forward and presenting this now. I do want to say, it would have been better if this happened last year, when it was all happening, because it was all happening back then.

We were trying to blow the whistle. Reporters were trying to say, this is really bad. People were coming from yoga groups or wellness groups or church communities on Facebook and ending up in QAnon communities in two or three clicks. This was -- this is not news to anybody who`s been in this space.

But it`s important that it`s coming out now. It`s kind of undeniable now that Facebook not only knew about it, but they put it on paper. This woman had access to basically like an internal Wiki at her company. It was something that most people in the company had access to, that most people in the company at Facebook continue to have access to.

So, pretty much everybody at the company knows about this. I guess that`s what is troubling here is that the dangers of this company are known internally. Facebook won`t admit what specific dangers they are. They just say they need regulation.

Until we even know what`s under the hood there, we can`t even begin to make that regulation, I think, or even draft ideas that make a lot of sense.

REID: Yes.

And they rely a lot on the free speech defense, saying they don`t want to quell free speech, so they`re letting a lot of this stuff happen.

Ms. Klonick, let me let you listen to one more little bite from Ms. Haugen. And she`s talking about the specific effect on teenagers. Let me listen to that.


HAUGEN: The algorithms are very smart, in the sense that they latch onto things that people want to continue to engage with. And, unfortunately, in the case of teen girls and things like self-harm, they develop these feedback cycles, where children are using Instagram to self-soothe, but then are exposed to more and more content that makes them hate themselves.


REID: Kate Klonick, when I hear that, I actually hear the exact same thing happening to adults.

If you know people who are really addicted to Facebook, they too are gravitating toward content that feeds what they want to hear already. If they`re already worried about the vaccine, they`re gravitating toward that content. And then Facebook is rewarding them for clicking on it.


So whether it`s children whose self-esteem is being destroyed or grandparents who are becoming QAnon conspiracy theorists, it feels like the algorithm treats them all the same way. Is that true?

KATE KLONICK, ST. JOHN`S UNIVERSITY: Yes, there is some truth to that.

And I want to double down on what Ben said, which is exactly correct. There`s a bunch here that we already knew, that we were well aware of, that we had evidence from various places that was not as comprehensively given to us as what Frances Haugen has done.

I think that -- I think that there -- I also just want to say that her testimony today was something that we have never seen before, in that we have only seen from the C-suite. And I think that that is a huge mistake. They have no idea at the very tops of this company how the company is working, and the number of people that are working within the company to try to make the company better, and to do the right thing, and to try to improve these systems from within, instead of fighting them from without, .

And so I think the Frances is one of those people. And so I think that kind of her testimony today -- and this point about that -- Instagram and how it relates also to adults, as well as children...

REID: Yes.

KLONICK: ... that is something that I think is absolutely true and is kind of very -- you`re always going to get when you have a targeted ad-funded program, whether that is, I will -- I have to say, whether that`s mass media, like magazines, and "YM" and "Teen," like they -- I would just turn those pages when I was 13, and they have the exact, terrible -- but not at this scale.

REID: Yes.

KLONICK: And so I think that that is something to think about.

REID: And the scale, Ben, is that everything is Facebook. Instagram is Facebook. WhatsApp is Facebook. They`re in sort of all these different aspects of your life. It`s so ubiquitous, that even if you get rid of one platform, the other ones have similar sort of algorithmic behavior.

And I think that ubiquity of it makes people feel like, well, maybe this thing is like sort of a monster. And then also it brings out other conspiracy theories. That outage yesterday, lots of conspiracy theories about that outage, people saying, hey, I wonder if that was just to sort of try to make things -- do you know -- do we know anything about what that outage is about?

Because it also showed just how ubiquitous and how kind of integrated into our lives that they are.

COLLINS: Well, first of all, we don`t know a ton about how it happened or how exactly this took place in that way.

We do know Facebook is so ubiquitous, by the way, that they couldn`t get into the rooms they needed to fix it because it was all tied to Facebook. So it was tied to

So it`s a very complicated mess. But I do want to bring up, Joy, to us, Facebook is a lot of things. It`s a way to read the news. It`s a way to get your ivermectin conspiracy theories, a lot of different things to us.

But throughout the world, Facebook is commerce. Facebook is selling things and having your own small business. In India, there are phones that were bricked yesterday, just like not usable, because they`re so tied up in the Facebook ecosystem, because they were effectively given away by Facebook to communities over the last five to 10 years there.

The idea of extracting Facebook from the Internet at this point, it`s -- you`re -- might bleed out. There`s a lot going on with how Facebook operates with communities all throughout the world.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: And it really is -- it`s banking. It`s their business for a lot of people.

REID: It`s almost too big. It`s almost too big, too big to fail.

Kate Klonick, Ben Collins, thank you both very much.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT: The family of the late Henrietta Lacks is suing a biotech company for using her body`s cells to conduct decades of groundbreaking medical research without her consent.

Her grandson Ron and family attorney Ben Crump join me next.



REID: So, I want to tell you about Henrietta Lacks, or Hennie, as her family called her.

She was a mother of five and a grandmother to dozens. She loved to cook and dance, often with one of her kids. According to her family, she was a beautiful black woman full of style and grace, and was the emotional touchstone for her family.

In 1951, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer. And this is where she changed the world. But here`s the thing. She had no idea. That`s because, when Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins, the only hospital that would treat black patients, doctors took samples of her tissue without her knowledge or consent, and sent them to a cancer researcher working at the hospital.

That researcher discovered that, unlike others, her cells had the rare ability to survive and regenerate. Those cells could essentially live forever, the first of its kind. And they took advantage of that with great success.

Today, her cells have been used in almost every realm of scientific research, such as the polio and HPV vaccines and in vitro fertilization, and were even used to help research the COVID vaccines.

Henrietta Lacks died shortly after her diagnosis, but her cells continue to be used. Scientists shared her private medical information with the press. They even shared her genome, her personal genetic code with the public. This was all done without consulting her family.

According to "The Wall Street Journal," scientists today buy her cells for anywhere from $400 to thousands of dollars per vial. Yesterday, her estate filed a lawsuit against the biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific, accusing it of profiteering off of Henrietta Lacks` cells.

The company has not publicly responded to this suit.

I`m joined now by Ben Crump, one of the family`s attorneys, and Ron Lacks, Henrietta`s grandson.

And, Mr. Lacks, thank you so much for being here.

I just want to put up for the audience just some of the things that your grandmother`s cells have helped to advance, everything from the polio vaccines, as I mentioned, to understanding X-rays in the human cells, the Ebola and HIV vaccines, trying to understand -- sorry -- the infectivity of Ebola and HIV, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

When did your family find out that your grandmother was the source of all of those scientific miracles?

RON LACKS, GRANDSON OF HENRIETTA LACKS: Thank you, Joy, for having me. It`s a pleasure.



REID: Yes.

LACKS: My mother was the one that found out and through -- by accident.

She was having lunch with a friend his or hers down the street. And the person that was coming to lunch, her neighbor, introduced her Bobbette Lacks. And he told her, we`re working with someone named Henrietta Lacks. And she told Ness (ph), my mother-in-law.


And that`s why how found out.

REID: Ben, there`s a sense of the dehumanization of black bodies and black life here, where she, while a human being with a life -- that`s how we tried to describe some of her life -- was just treated as a product that could be bought and sold and disposed of at will by a company, this company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and by Johns Hopkins.

It`s a wild sort of reality that black life was treated this way. What do you hope to gain from this lawsuit? What do you think will be gained?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, LACKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, obviously, Henrietta Lacks` miraculous cells were unprecedented.

So we know that this would be a precedent-setting lawsuit, not just for simple justice, not just for social justice, but for genetic justice, Joy Reid, justice that will flow from generation to generation.

And when you think about Henrietta Lacks being treated in this just inhumane manner, as if she was a lab rat, which was very common at the time when they did medical experimentation, what it was tantamount to was medical racism.

But through all that evil, we can have this miraculous discovery of this black woman whose cells have become the cornerstone of modern medicine. And every pharmaceutical corporation in the world has made billions and billions of dollars, yet her family has not made one red cent.

And we`re saying in this lawsuit, they have the right to define her legacy, to benefit from her legacy and to pass her legacy on to their generations of children yet unborn, because her life mattered.

REID: There`s a feeling almost like this is sort of another way that slavery operated, right, Mr. Lacks that your grandmother, while human, was just seen, as Ben Crump said, as a product that could just be bought and sold, and that her family was owed nothing.

It`s shocking to me that Johns Hopkins -- was there any communication at the time with your grandmother to say to her, you have miraculous cells, there`s something miraculous about you, would you be interested in any way in joining -- I mean, I don`t know. I know black people weren`t even treated in most hospitals.

Did her doctors communicate with her at all what they were doing?

LACKS: Not at all.

Matter of fact, my grandfather told the story of so many doctors coming into her room was strange to them, period, that she was getting so much attention. A black person didn`t get that much attention back then. So they knew something was wrong then, but never explained why.

REID: Yes.

It`s shocking. And so, just for those who are watching, this is the HeLa cell. They called -- they literally named it after her. So, they were like hiding in plain sight. It`s called the HeLa, which stands for Henrietta Lacks.

So the lawsuit, Ben, is asking the court to order Thermo Fisher Scientific to disgorge the full amount of its net profits obtained by commercializing the HeLa cells.

Do you have any idea sort of what those profits have been over the years in total?

CRUMP: Well, we don`t know.

But we know Thermo Fisher alone, this distributor of the cells, reported a profit of $33 billion last year. And that`s not to say what Merck Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson -- I mean, it`s billions upon billions.

And that`s -- when you think about George Floyd this past year, and how the corporations all made these pledges to social justice, well, a lot of them were pharmaceutical companies as well. So, if you want to honor that pledge, well, do right finally by Henrietta Lacks. Do right by Henrietta.

And I`m with Mr. Ron Lacks, Joy. You are the perfect person to talk about this, because you have always been an outspoken advocate for black women to get their recognition, because, so often, they`re disrespected, and never has that been more abundantly clear than with Henrietta Lacks.

REID: Thank you.

CRUMP: Say her name.

REID: Amen. Say her name. Thank you.

LACKS: They didn`t have it out in plain sight. They changed the name to Helen Lawson and Helen Lane. Yes.

REID: They tried it. They tried it.

And then you wonder why black people don`t trust the medical establishment and why we have to beg and plead with people to get vaccinated. They don`t trust the system. These are the reasons that people don`t trust it, you all. There is a real reason people don`t have trust.


Ben Crump, thank you so much for doing what you do. Ron Lacks...

LACKS: Can I introduce you to my book?

REID: Show your book. Show your book, absolutely. Show your book. There we go, "The Untold Story," right there, all right, "Henrietta Lacks: The Untold Story." Definitely, you all pick that up.

Ben Crump and Ron Lacks, thank you both very much.

And up next: Pack your bags. Put on your comfy traveling clothes. CPAC is taking its creepy white right-wing lovefest on the road. Its itinerary will raise the eyebrows of people who actually like democracy. But that`s not stop CPAC. Oh, no.

Stay with us.


REID: With a MAGA-hungry crowd facing their dear leader`s downfall from the White House acting like a maitre d` at his various resorts, it appears they are on the hunt for a new authoritarian leader to fawn over, case in point, CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, that we just saw last year traveled to Trump`s backyard to praise their golden calf.

Earlier this summer, they returned to Brazil, where CPAC speakers there offered great praise to the country`s COVID-loving autocratic president, Jair Bolsonaro. And now the conference is setting its sights on Hungary, where they will be hosted next year by the far right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a man who has consolidated power under his control.


Now, it should be of no surprise to see the rights embrace of such authoritarian leaders, given what has transpired here over the past five years, but it doesn`t make it any less troubling when our old friend Tuckums spends a week in Hungary effusively praising Orban.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Just a few years ago, his views would have seemed moderate and conventional. He thinks families are more important than banks.

He believes countries need borders. For saying these things out loud, Orban has been vilified.

So, who`s freer? In what country are you more likely to lose your job for disagreeing with the ruling class` orthodoxy? The answer is pretty obvious, though, if you`re an American, it is painful to admit it.


REID: Joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," and Charlie Pierce, writer at large for "Esquire."

All right, David Corn, Tuckums says that Viktor Orban is just a normal, average conservative. Your thoughts?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This kind of reminds me of the Deadheads.

They`re going from one show to another. They started in Brazil with Bolsonaro, who`s talked about canceling the next election in 2022 there because there`s fraud. He`s taken up the Trump line. And now they`re going into Brazil. Now they`re going off to Hungary.

It`s like the magical authoritarian mystery tour. They just can`t get enough of these right-wing anti-democratic -- it`s not just they`re conservative, which is fine. People are allowed to be conservative, but they`re anti-democratic. They try to shut down the media. They try to shut down the judiciary. They have done this in Brazil and Hungary

And for some reason, that just warms the cockles, whatever cockles are, of the right wing and CPAC. And while they -- they can get a lot -- enough of Trump here. They can get DeSantis. You can get Tom Cotton. You can even get Mike Pence, if you want the week -- the watered-down version, but that`s still not enough for them.

They have to go all the way to Brazil and Hungary. And what`s next? I don`t know. Will they end up in China?

REID: I mean, it`s -- part of the appeal, Charlie, apparently, of people like Orban is that he professes a similar type of far right-wing Christianity that they want to see imposed on the United States.

He did that when he was performing with Tuckums when he went over there to praise him. And Mike Pence recently spoke at a summit in Budapest, where he praised how abortion rates have fallen under Orban`s leadership. He says that he hopes that the United States Supreme Court will ban abortion.

So, they -- and Putin has done a sort of similar dance, where they sort of hog a kind of right-wing Christianity and that`s all it takes for the American right to love them. Your thoughts.

CHARLIE PIERCE, "ESQUIRE": Well, there`s no question.

First of all, I used to like it when there was only one CPAC a year.


REID: Right?

PIERCE: Because then -- you know who all those people are, and they`re all in one place, and you keep an eye on them.

Now they`re all over the world. Now you have got to -- you have to use your airplane miles to go to CPAC. It used to be all you needed was a subway token.

But I think you make an excellent point. There`s a very -- I mean, and I can speak only for the church of my birth. There`s a very strong strain of right-wing Catholicism in the world right now, as should be obvious to everyone, including in the United States.

And Orban is kind of a hero there too. There are a number of right-wing Catholic writers who have gone over there on Orban fellowships for a week or a month or whatever. And that -- I mean, that, to me, makes Orban different than Bolsonaro, who I don`t think -- if God showed up in Brazil, Bolsonaro would sell him a branch that didn`t exist or something.

But Orban -- Orban is far more tied in to all of the intercontinental national -- white nationalist, populist -- I use that last word advisedly - - network, and that -- which, by the way, is going to be what outlasts Donald Trump.

REID: Right. And it also preceded him, David.

I mean, Steve Bannon, who used to get over in the mainstream political media by calling himself a nationalist populist -- and people would repeat that in political services, as if he was sort of a normal whatever. But he`s a white nationalist, very openly, a Christian nationalist, and wants to sort of Europeanized American conservatism and also participate in global conservatism and have that same thing proliferate around the world.

And he`s been very open about that. Here`s Steve Bannon talking about the way that he thinks that the right should treat this country. Here. This is five for my producers.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We`re winning big in 2022. We`re going to win big in 2024. We need to get ready now, right?


We control this country. We got to start acting like it.


REID: And his creation, or that he helped create, Donald Trump, sent Orban bought a letter after he was on Tuckums` show, talking about, great job on "Tucker." Proud of you. I`m grateful for your continued friendship -- he wrote with big magic marker and all that sort of stuff.

I mean, they`re all trying to sort of -- it is a weird Europeanization of the American right. Your thoughts, David?

CORN: It reminds me too -- I mean, there`s a lot a history of here.

We could spend the whole show talking about. The right wing in America would was infatuated with Francisco Franco in Spain. And there was a heavy dose of Catholicism to that too. They have long played with dictators in Europe who they thought were beating back the communists.

You can think about Charles Lindbergh going over to Germany in the 1930s and accepting an award from Goering. I think there`s maybe more of a religious element now than this -- than the worry about keeping Bolshevism at bay.

But they seem to be drawn again and again, whether it`s Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Jeane Kirkpatrick to have a love affair with the Argentina junta when she was working for the Reagan administration. They are drawn to these forces.

And I think it`s worrisome, only to the -- not only to, but it`s worrisome to the extent that they become this neutral dynamic in which they`re normalizing him. And they use him to normalize their own views. You saw that with Tucker. He goes over there and says, see, what I`m saying isn`t so outrageous.

REID: That`s right.

CORN: Replacement theory, white nationalism, anti-immigration, see, it`s happening here, and it`s really working out well.

So, both sides are using the other to normalize their extreme radical and somewhat racist positions.

REID: Right.

And, Charlie, so, I mean, Orban is sort of Trump`s dream of what he wants to be, right? He`s openly white nationalist, anti-immigrant, saying, but we have to protect our people in Hungary, that they are the ones who need to be elevated. He professes this far right-wing Christianity, everything that the Tuckers want of the world, right?

And the fear is, is that if they pass it through what CPAC and things that sound like sort of ordinary conservatism, they can attract more people to it. In their mind, that`s the way you get minority rule.

I worry that Democrats are -- that Americans are not worried enough about the threat that these people pose. Are you worried about that?

PIERCE: Oh, believe me.

Being familiar, among other things, with right-wing Catholic households, having grown up in one -- one day, when we were cleaning out my parents` house after my mom died, and discovered a large framed picture of Father Coughlin. My parents had a secret life of which I knew nothing, and certainly didn`t have any impact on me.

Yes, I`m extraordinarily worried, because we can`t seem to divorce ourselves from the fact that Trumpism is going to live on...

REID: Yes.

PIERCE: ... after the inevitable occluded coronary artery strikes and Donald passes from the scene.

Now, there might well be a leadership fight over it...

REID: Yes.

PIERCE: ... between Bannon and...

REID: DeSantis.

PIERCE: ... if one of the Trumps decides to be an heir.

REID: Yes.

PIERCE: But it`s still going to be there.

And now it`s allied in this weird kind of new Cold War...

REID: Yes.

PIERCE: ... with its forces in Europe, the same way, as David pointed out, we allied ourselves with reactionaries all over the world...

REID: Yes. Yes.

PIERCE: ... during the actual Cold War. I`m very worried.

REID: Yes, indeed. Same here.

David Corn, Charlie Pierce, I`m with you all. I`m worried as well. Thank you, guys, both.

Up next: It is not your views, dear. It`s your hypocrisy. That is what made you a prime candidate for tonight`s "Absolute Worst." Can you guess who I`m talking about?

Find out right after this quick break.



REID: One of the biggest debates ripping through Twitter right now is about a bathroom or, rather, whether it was appropriate for activists to follow Senator Sinema into a bathroom, demanding action on DACA and the reconciliation bill.

And I think we can all agree it`s not ideal for any party involved to follow anyone into a bathroom for any reason. But keep in mind the Arizona senator has canceled her in person meetings and hasn`t hosted a town hall in three years, so desperate times, desperate measures.

But, of course, the Republican Party has pounced on the incident to reignite the decency debate, clutching all the pearls as they complain, what if those activists had been MAGA?

First off, the Republican Party saying the left is uncivil, hah! OK, I just had to get that out of my system.

But, also, we don`t have to wonder. This is still 2021, the year a MAGA mob desiccated in our Capitol, hurled obscenities and racist slurs at police, and even brought their own news like a good-old fashioned lynch mob, the year conservatives manufactured outrage over masks and history lessons, took our school boards hostage like a bunch of screaming maniacs.

So, yes, you, the Republican Party, proliferators of harassment and violence, you don`t get to talk about decency. It`s people in your party who accost Democratic colleagues, using misogynistic curse words. It`s people in your party harassed mass shooting survivors, taunting and stalking a teenager. You betcha Margie three names would have followed David Hogg into a bathroom.

And just last night, your very own Senator Ted Cruz essentially tweeted "F you, Biden," using a "Wheel of Fortune" meme.

Side note, Ted Cruz, what do you actually do all day? I mean, it`s stunning when you think about it, a sitting senator sending that message to a president of the United States of any party.

But, again, the Republican Party is what it is. And in many ways, it`s Ted Cruz, a power-hungry member of the sedition caucus who exploits pro-choice language to support unvaccinated NBA players, while actively taking away a woman`s right to choose.

No wonder Neera Tanden called him a vampire in her tweets, for which she had to publicly apologize, only to still not get the job at the Office of Management and Budget, even as Cancun Cruz worships at the feet of the ultimate mean tweeter, who also said his father helped to kill JFK and called his wife ugly, to which Cruz simply said, please, sir, may I have some more?

Ted, Rafael, no one is looking to you for political decency. No one with any sense buys your chitchat about Christian family values, while you`re fleeing to Mexico while screaming about people fleeing from Mexico.

So civilized, which is why, tonight, you, Rafael "Ted" Cruz, are the absolute worst.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.