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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/27/21

Guests: Anthony Fauci, Stuart Stevens, Michael Eric Dyson, Hakeem Oluseyi


CDC revises COVID isolation and quarantine guidance. Airline staffing shortages force cancellations of hundreds of flights. White House to offer free at-home test delivery. Still more questions than answers about omicron.



TIFFANY CROSS, MSNBC HOST: I don`t even know how to use it, quite frankly.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Well, first of all tell us you hand though.

CROSS: I think it`s @tiffanydcross because that`s my handle on Twitter and Instagram and everywhere else. And the only TikTok video I posted is me saying I don`t know how to use it.

MELBER: That`s fine because you know, what you start on is I`ll say, number one, shout out @tiffanydcross, everyone should check that out. And number two, the only thing I learned is that, because it`s short -- Twitter is short, right? It`s just a short video. So, you really don`t have time for any of the other introduction, explanation, whatever it is you got to say or do, do it. And do yourself. So, for some people that`s dancing. I don`t dance on there. You`re welcome. But whatever it is, you just say it.

CROSS: We`ll have to do a TikTok together. And good interview with Big Boy, by the way. I thought that was a really great conversation. I like the point that you made. Something like your mechanic wouldn`t do your heart surgery so you wouldn`t talk to him about medical issues. So, great interview.

MELBER: Thank you.

CROSS: You said the far side, you quoted the Far Side. The Far Side also said she keeps on passing me by. I`m not passing you by but I better get to THE REIDOUT, Ari. So, thanks so much, and we will do a fun toss tomorrow.

MELBER: I love it, you got it. Bye

CROSS: Have a good one Ari, and thank you so much everybody for joining us. Good evening, I`m Tiffany Cross in for Joy Reid.

And we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with that breaking news in the war against COVID. The CDC releasing late today hot off the press this guideline shortening the recommended isolation and quarantine period for asymptomatic people with COVID-19 saying they should isolate for five days. Now, this is down from the previous recommendation of ten days. The agency attributed the change to growing evidence that the virus is most infectious in two or three days after symptoms arise.

Now, the CDC also said that for people who are asymptomatic after five days of isolation an additional five days of wearing a mask when around others is recommended.

All right. There is a lot to unpack just on that front alone and we`re going to get into that in a minute but this new guidelines shortening isolation are coming as COVID returns to crisis levels in the United States. Up ending holiday travel for millions of Americans, the national seven-day average climbed to almost 200,000 cases.

Now, this is the highest average since almost a year ago, which is why we are again facing a crisis in testing. Look at those lodge long lines on your screen right now. This is a haunting visual of what is always evaded us during this pandemic. That`s the access to accurate reliable and high quality tests.

Now, today President Joe Biden directly addressed that shortage and what may change in the month ahead.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: But it`s not enough. It`s clearly not enough if we`d known we would have gone harder, quicker if we could have. We`re going to continue to use the Defense Production Act to produce as many tests as possible.


CROSS: And, unfortunately, the lack of testing is just one layer of a very complicated problem. Let`s peel back the layers and questions abound over whether tests can detect omicron.

Here is what we know right now. Hospitals are at maximum capacity again and that includes pediatric ICUS. So, headlines that are diametrically opposed to Twitter diagnosis that omicron is mild is clearly wrong. Question, how can something be mild if it can damage your organs for life? It`s a lot of changing information coming at us at once and a lot of heated debate over what it all means. But after two years people are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

We are all desperate for some semblance of normalcy especially during the holidays as we march into the third year of a pandemic that simply refuses to quit partially because we won`t let it quit. Now, what we are left with is a lot of questions and confusion over how dangerous omicron is and what can be done about it at this point.

Joining me to shift to the chaos is the Nation`s Top Infectious Disease Expert and Chief Medical Officer to President Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci, I`m so grateful to you for joining us today. As you can imagine folks have a lot of questions about the updated CDC guidelines and I want to get into it.

Now, the updated guidance says that you only have to quarantine after five days. The confusing thing I think for people is this applies to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and also this guidance is based on research that came out prior to the omicron variant. Can you talk us through what led to this change?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes, first of all, you`re right. It`s anyone who is infected whether you`re an unvaccinated person or whether or not you have a breakthrough infection following your vaccination.

And what it means is that instead of keeping people out of action, out of work, out of society for ten days, if you`re infected and without symptoms, then you have five days of isolation and then you can go back out into society with a mask worn consistently.

And the reason for that is that the sheer volume and number of cases with omicron, which is very much more transmissible than trial (ph) variants, we don`t want to get into a situation where so many people are out from their jobs, many of which are essential jobs to keep society running smoothly.


So, the decision on the part of the CDC is really prudent and good decision and is based on science because the chances of virus being shed in the first five days is much greater than in the second five days following infection.

So it was felt, if you keep people isolated for five days, then the level of infection in the sense of being transmitted to others, the risk of that diminishes. Wear a mask and you can go back to your job so we can keep society flowing smoothly.

CROSS: But this is where I`m confused. Right? So let`s say today I feel a little crappy. I get tested tomorrow. And it comes back positive. I mean, am I on the tail end of being able to pass the virus? Do asymptomatic people not that transmit the virus to others?

FAUCI: No, it`s from the time you test positive. So if you test positive today, you have five days of isolation and then after that five days, if you are asymptomatic, you can then go out and go into society with a mask on.

CROSS: But I just want to be clear, are you saying asymptomatic people do not transmit the virus?

FAUCI: No. No, no, no, you`re in isolation and you`re asymptomatic, it is possible that you could transmit the virus. That`s why you`re in isolation. The chances of transmitting it after five days is less in the second five days. Therefore you can go out but you must wear a mask and the reason for wearing a mask is that it is possible that if you didn`t wear a mask, you could transmit it. That`s the reason for wearing a mask.

CROSS: I think it makes some people nervous to be around people who could be carriers, even in a mask especially given the transmissibility of omicron. And then let`s talk about the testing, right? Because you know a lot of people are depending on this antigen tests. And not the PCR test which some argue is more accurate. A lot of people won`t even accept the antigen test, yet a majority of Americans are depending on that, you can get a lot of false positives or you can get some false negatives from those. What is your advice when it comes to testing?

FAUCI: Well, if you are exposed and feel that you really want to make sure that you are tested in the sense of knowing definitively whether you`re infected, a PCR is the most sensitive and accurate test. If you want to screen and have a test that you do more than once, you do it occasionally and frequently, if you want to find out I feel good, there is no reason to believe that I`m infected but I want to make doubly sure then an antigen test is appropriate and works because even though it is not as sensitive as a PCR test, it gives you valuable information because if you`re negative with your negative with your antigen test, even thought it isn`t a hundred percent sensitive, the fact is the likelihood of you being infected is low, and the likelihood if you are of transmitting it, that the virus is so low in your nasal pharynx, you likely would not transmit it.

So there is a place for screening and being surveying yourself, saying, I want to have dinner with family, I`m vaccinated, I`m boasted, I want to make doubly sure that I`m safe. That`s when you get an antigen test.

CROSS: I hope Americans are listening because I think the about antigen tests are giving a lot of people a false sense of security when that`s the only test they`re taking. You`re saying the PCR test is the most impactful and effective and is the most accurate, correct?

FAUCI: It is correct, but there is a place, a good place, a reasonable place and appropriate place for the antigen testing and I just described what that was.

CROSS: Yes, right. Okay. So I have a lot of people who in my life who have recently been infected, who tested positive for COVID-19. How do they know if they have the delta variant, the omicron variant, because all they know they tested positive? They are hospitalized. They are quarantining. Is there something to determine such a thing?

FAUCI: Well, that`s only for the standpoint of knowing what the relative percentage of a particular variant in this. For an individual in many respects it makes no difference. If they`re infected, it`s not really important for them. They wouldn`t be doing anything different whether it was delta or whether it was omicron.


If you have COVID-19 you have COVID-19. And that`s it. Understanding what is spreading throughout the community is much more of a surveillance type within approach as it is what it means to an individual patient.

So if I got infected with delta or omicron as far as I`m concerned, I`m infected. That`s it. It doesn`t really matter which one it is.

CROSS: Right. And so I take your point to that. It`s becoming so prevalent. You know, it used to be I know someone who knows someone who got it and then it was in your immediate circle, your family member, sometimes in your same household. Are we all eventually going to get infected by this virus? I mean this transmissibility of omicron. It seems very likely that these infections will continue to go up.

FAUCI: Well, let`s look in relative risk. If you are not vaccinated, you have a much higher risk of getting infected and a much, much higher risk if you do get infected of getting a serious outcome requiring hospitalization.

If you are vaccinated, you are less likely to get infected and less likely to have a serious outcome. If you are vaccinated and boosted, you have even less of a chance of getting a serious outcome if you`re infected.

So there will be breakthrough inspections among vaccinated people but the important thing is the likelihood of you getting into serious trouble if you`re infected as a breakthrough infection from vaccine is much, much less than if you are completely unvaccinated, which is the reason why we continue to stress to people the importance of why it is that they should get vaccinated and if vaccinated, why it`s important to get boosted.

CROSS: And so even if you`re saying if you`re vaccinated and boosted, you have less likely chance of getting these serious infections. But there are also things that don`t require hospitalization, you know, The New York Times Columnist Mara Gay has documented her challenges with long COVID. Is there any evidence to suggest that yes you may be impacted now, you maybe asymptomatic. You tested positive. Who is to say six months from now you might have, you know, get out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. Is there research any evidence or research that shows you`re absolved from long hold COVID if you are asymptomatic now?

FAUCI: It`s much less likely if you have no symptoms at all that you going to get long COVID. Long COVID is seen in people with minimum symptoms, moderate symptoms and severe symptoms. It also can be seen rarely in people who have absolutely no symptoms at all but it`s seen in a very considerable proportion of people anywhere from 10 to up to 30 or more percent of people who have symptomatic COVID-19 disease.

And the variability and symptoms associated with long COVID is anything from severe fatigue, muscle aches, temperature deregulation, sleep disorders and even a difficulty in concentration. So long COVID is something that we should be taking seriously.

CROSS: I want to ask you about, Dr. Leana Wen, she wrote a great op-ed in The Post, where she basically said you`re free to go out if you`re vaccinated and boosted. You don`t have to isolate. You should be free to go out. And you don`t have to cancel your holiday plans. With New Year`s Eve coming up, I just wonder your thoughts on something like that because the Netherlands as you know just recently is on lockdown, the first European country to be on lockdown again. Europe is a hot spot. They have always kind of provided preview on where the United States can be. Are we headed for another lockdown? Should we be headed for another lockdown?

You asked multiple questions. Let take her article first. What she was saying if you`re vaccinated and boosted and you`re in a family setting, you do not need to cancel a gathering of family who are vaccinated and boosted and maybe close friends who are vaccinated and boosted. She was saying you don`t need to cancel your Christmas or your New Year`s plans in the intimate setting of your home with your family. But what she doesn`t recommend is going out into a 30 or 40 or 50-person party where you do not know the vaccine status of the people around you. That was the point that she was making in that article.

FAUCI: Well, you`ve asked multiple questions. Let`s take Leana`s article first. What she was saying, is that if you are vaccinated is boosted and you are in a family setting, you do not need to cancel a gathering of family who are vaccinated and boosted and may be close friends who are vaccinated and boosted.

She was saying you don`t need to cancel your Christmas or you New Year`s plans in the intimate setting of your home with your family.

But what she doesn`t recommend is going out into a 30 or 40 or 50 person party where you do not know the vaccine status of the people around you. That was the point that she was making in that article.

CROSS: Okay. And I want to ask your opinion quickly about mandates. You said you support mandates on domestic flights. How do you feel in again real about mandates --


CROSS: I`m sorry, go right ahead.

FAUCI: I did not say I support mandates on domestic flights. I said that is something that is on the table for consideration. I didn`t say I supported or didn`t support it.


I was asked is this something that is being considered. We consider any option that could keep the American public safe. I don`t think people should expect that all of a sudden tomorrow or next week we`ll be saying that you need to have a requirement for vaccination to get on a domestic flight.

When I say something is on the table, I mean we keep an open mind and we consider anything and everything that might be appropriate to protect the American people.

CROSS: Well then, how do you feel? Shouldn`t we have vaccine mandates? I believe I read you quoted as saying that vaccine mandates encourage more people to get vaccinated. Do you support vaccine mandates on domestic flights?

FAUCI: No, I said that`s under consideration by the group and if the circumstance arises, we monitor that on a daily and a weekly basis. Right now that is open for discussion. And right now no decision has been made and I don`t think people should expect they`ll hear there is a requirement for domestic flights because there is not.

CROSS: Okay. We`ve run out of time but I had 1,000 questions for you, Dr. Fauci. So many people texted me and tweeted me for -- with questions for you. So thank you so much for giving us all your time. I`m so saddened that people have been so harassing to you because you`ve done so much for this country in terms of this crisis. So I really appreciate your insight this evening. Thank you so much.

So coming up next on THE REIDOUT, some prominent voices have a dire warning for America. Whoopi Goldberg said it best, America, you in danger girl. Can it be saved in time?

Plus, what we can learn about fighting for democracy and justice from the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Also it work in the Virginia governor`s race. Now the right wing lies and misinformation about critical race theory is the Republican playbook for midterms next year.

And solving the mysteries of the universe. The amazing web telescope will surely solve some of them. We will explore why scientists and a lot of other people are very excited about this mission. THE REIDOUT continues right after this.



CROSS: All right, as we approach the one year anniversary January 6, it`s becoming increasingly clear that the insurrection was more than just a failed coup.

And that`s because the big lie that inspired that fateful attack still chips away at the very foundation of this country. It`s not the only thing that chips away from this -- the foundation of this country. It`s been happening a long time.

To date, we have seen countless warnings that democracy is endangered, from think tanks, security experts, scholars, columnists, historians and even former military officials, including those of us who`ve been shouting about this from the rooftops for at least a century.

Sherrilyn Ifill put it bluntly to "The New York Times" last week, saying: "There is no guarantee we make it out of this period as a democracy, let alone a healthy one."

And without accountability, the big lie will only continue to embolden the enemies of democracy.

Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe and others recently urged the Justice Department to take action, saying: "To decline to investigate would be appeasement. And appeasing bullies and wrongdoers only encourages more of the same."

All of them are sounding the alarm. They`re practically shouting from the rooftops. The question is whether anyone is listening.

With me now, Stuart Stevens. He`s a senior adviser to The Lincoln Project. Juanita Tolliver, a Democratic strategist, and Michael Eric Dyson, professor of African-American studies at Vanderbilt University and author of "Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America."

Thank you guys for joining me.

Juanita, I want to start out with you, because when you look at what`s happening in our democracy, it`s being bled by 1,000 cuts. Voting rights is being obliterated. There`s a lot of focus on that, but I think we have to realize what comes after you have narrowed the path to the ballot box. That`s when rights are increasingly eroded, like women`s rights, abortion rights, the way we`re redrawing districts, political violence, mass shootings, et cetera.

All of these things contribute to the downfall of the American experiment. If this were happening in another country, I can`t help but wonder how the media might cover it. Yet it seems like a lot of people are not paying attention.

Why do you think so many people are going about their day not as panicked as those of us who are as engaged are?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think because, first and foremost, it is a luxury to be as engaged as we are.

But the reality is, if the headlines read as they would have internationally about failed coup attempt or failed government or questions about democracies and having the need to have, for example, NDI send election observers to credibly say that this was a fair and safe election, then, of course, people would be running around scared and understanding the active threat to their basic right to vote and our collective basic right to have our votes counted and matter, so that an insurrection cannot happen and have weight, or that a sitting president cannot organize a coup attempt.

I think that the reality is that, lacking those headlines, lacking that very in-your-face narrative is what prompts and allows people to move along freely and take for granted what could happen in the next few elections, because I fully agree with Sherrilyn Ifill. She is not exaggerating by any means.

And there is no guarantee that our democracy can survive this moment, because we know, without the accountability that you describe, Tiffany, another insurrection could have happened. Without basic protections like the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, we know that there is no guarantee that our elections will be fair and safe in the future.

And so, without ringing that four-alarm fire, like we should be, like we have been doing, people aren`t seeing it tangibly impact them. But I assure you, the first time they`re turned away from the ballot box, the first time an election in their state or their state electors don`t go the way that they voted for, then they absolutely will feel it.

But we don`t need to get to the point of feeling our rights rejected. We don`t need to get to the point of our rights being undermined in order to take action. So now all eyes need to go on Senate Democrats getting past the filibuster to protect our rights.


And all eyes need to be on the select committee to ensure accountability for any and every person who participated and facilitated in the January 6 attack.

CROSS: Stuart, I`m curious your thoughts here.

All of this didn`t really start with Trump. The Republican Party, I think, has engaged in these tactics for a long time. You and I have kind of talked about this a little bit before. And I think what we have to acknowledge at the root of all this is race. There is a racial component to people feeling like their power is being stripped away as the demographics of this country change.

And I`m curious your thoughts, because you have talked about this and written about this. Why do you think that racists and white supremacists have always, at least for the past 100 years, found a home in the Republican Party? Because this has been a big part of what`s helped erode democracy, these two warring factions.

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, if you really look at the post-World War II history of the Republican Party, I think it tells the story.

Eisenhower in 1956 got 44 percent, I think -- check my number, but something close to that -- of the African-American vote. In 1964, with Goldwater, that fell off a cliff to 7 percent. And it never came back.

So, since 1964, the Republican Party has been predominantly a white party. And it is the great failure of the Republican Party, and it was a failure of mine when I worked in the party and others, not to be able to attract more African-American votes.

Now, we used to think that it was a failure. Ken Mehlman, who was chairman of the Republican National Committee in, I think, 2005, went before the NAACP and apologized for the Southern Strategy. And I think that matters.

Now we have just thrown that aside, and the party has almost officially become a white grievance party. And I think that it`s only accelerated because of the fact that the country is changing so much.

One of the 10 of the new Americans in the latest census is white. A majority of Americans 15 years and under are non-white. So I think this panic is what is sponsoring a lot of this anti-democratic autocratic movement, because they know they can`t change demographics. They fail to appeal in large measure to African-Americans.

So they have gone another way, which is, if you can`t change the people who are voting, you can try to change who you allow to vote. And I think that`s what is happening.

CROSS: Right. Yes. I think you`re right.

Michael, Stuart makes a really good point. The demographics in the country are changing. People of color are the rising majority of this country. However, white Americans still disproportionately hold a lot of the power in this country. So,when you look at things like the filibuster, we allegedly have these failsafes and plan to protect democracy.

However, they fail time and again. So these old institutions who value things like the filibuster, do you think that`s because a lot of the folks who are in power, regardless of party, have never been on the receiving end of the brutality of oppression, so perhaps they don`t take these things as seriously to confront them in an unapologetic way?

What`s your take?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: No, I think you`re absolutely right.

This is a prelude to the kiss-off of an American democracy. To a certain degree, the apocalypse is before us. We speak in these apocalyptic terms. People call us exaggerators. Oh, my God, why don`t you stop over- responding?

And yet the bottom line is, is that, as you said, people who are not used to being shout upon, who are not used to being assaulted, who are not used to being attacked, then feel themselves for the first time under even the briefest and the most cursory form of assault feel what we have been talking about all along.

On the other hand, many who have not been in the ditch with us, many who have not been in the trenches with us don`t understand the necessity of the warning, don`t understand the degree to which we say to America, we have been the bellwether and the benchmark, we have been the measure and magnitude of American democracy.

What black people have done with this country, what we have done with our resources has not only made our culture better, but our country better. And so now, people who are not used to seeing black people be the indices, the index, the measure of who we are as a nation feel a kind of schizophrenia.

On the one hand, they think we have lost our minds, and, on the other hand, they know they have lost theirs. And so the truth about American democracy is, it is only as good as we`re willing to fight for it. It has only ever been what we have made it to be.

This may be an exaggerated point, a kind of serious inflection point, but the truth is Martin Luther King Jr., when fighting Bull Connor, was fighting for the future of democracy.

And when we understand the degree to which we have been willing to fight for it, it reminds us that democracy is in our grasp, but only if we continue to fight for it in the most fundamental fashion.


CROSS: I mean, look, I think a lot of people are on the front lines. There are just so many people trying to survive the day.

Juanita, something that concerns me is, midterms are next year. Do we think that these infantile right-wing extremists will accept an election outcome next year that they don`t like?

TOLLIVER: There`s not a guarantee that they will.

And I think you`re going to see it a lot more at the state level in the midterms, vs. in 2024, where it would be at the federal level again. And so I`m looking -- keeping an eye on states like Georgia and Arizona that have absolved their secretaries of state of power, and to make sure that these elections are run safely and fairly, and fully empower county level election officials, which we know there have been surgical movements within the Republican Party, especially amongst Trump`s base of supporters, to start to occupy those positions.

So, keep an eye out on what`s happening at the state and local levels in midterms, because there is a chance that these elections could be impacted or tampered with in some way. I do think that there`s still plenty of time for Democrats in Congress to act and make sure that doesn`t happen by, again, passing the Freedom to Vote Act, passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, because that is what will protect and preserve democracy in the immediate term.

CROSS: I could not agree more.

We`re coming up against a hard break. I want to continue this conversation on the other side.

Stuart, Juanita and Michael are sticking around, because, up next, we`re turning our attention to how conservatives are leveraging fake outrage over Critical Race Theory to win elections by painting it as a threat to American patriotism.

Eye roll.

We will be right back.




NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, CREATOR, THE 1619 PROJECT: I would say the governor`s race in Virginia was decided based on the success of a right-wing propaganda campaign that told white parents that they needed to fight against their children being indoctrinated as being called racist.

But that was a propaganda campaign.


CROSS: The amazing Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project, called out Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin`s campaign for what it was, after Youngkin was elected by embracing the newest right-wing boogeyman, Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in any Virginia public schools, by the way.

Republicans have loudly telegraph that they see Youngkin`s anti-CRT message as their winning playbook in 2022. Thirteen states have already restricted race-conscious education through laws or other measures this year.

Back with me, Stuart Stevens, Juanita Tolliver, and Michael Eric Dyson.

I want to punctuate the point that Critical Race Theory is not being taught anywhere. But it is a part of creating this boogeyman. And if you can change the narrative and erase the narrative, then you can allow space for this revisionist history.

Stuart, I want you to kick us off here, because what do you say to people who see things like this happening, and they say, yes, I didn`t like Trump, I didn`t like the tweets, but they still continue to vote down-ballot for the Republican ticket?

There are all these acolytes who allow for these kinds of things to happen at the state, federal and local level. What`s your advice to those folks?

STEVENS: Look, I think it`s very dangerous.

And if you look at how democracies die, this is how it happens. There`s usually someone at the top is extreme, and then there`s people that normalize this. And I think that`s what`s happening with Glenn Youngkin.

At another time, Glenn Youngkin, might have been a perfectly moderate, sort of business-oriented guy that wanted to get stuff done. But the kind of campaign he ran clearly shows that he has a willingness -- first, in the primary, he would not say that Trump lost the election legally, and then the fact that he played the race card, which is what Critical Race Theory is.

And there`s a long and tragic history of this in the Republican Party. And it`s about increasing white vote. And it`s a really -- almost a complete failure to even try to attract African-American votes. And it`s what`s happening now. And it`s going to be part of, I think, this process that we go through where we try to restrict who can vote in increasing numbers.

CROSS: Yes, that`s precisely it, this whole CRT debate.

First of all, I don`t believe that Republicans actually want to increase to the African-American vote.

And, Juanita, I think, when they parade out some of these black Republican candidates, we have to tell people they don`t represent any constituency, other than the fraction of conservative white folks who they make comfortable. There are not droves of black people going to the Republican Party in the face of this ridiculousness.

However, I want you to take a listen to another sound bite from Nikole Hannah-Jones with my colleague Chuck Todd. We will talk about it on the other side.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": There`s this -- parents are saying, hey, don`t -- don`t make my kid feel guilty.

And I know a parent of color is going, what are you talking about? I have got to teach reality.

When do you do it, and how do you do it?

HANNAH-JONES: Well, I think you should just think a little bit about your framing. You said parents, and then you said parents of color.

So, the white is silent.

TODD: Right, white parents and parents of color.

You`re -- no, fair -- fair point, yes.

HANNAH-JONES: Right. White parents are representing -- as a matter of fact, white parents are representing fewer than half of all public school parents.


CROSS: She makes such a great point, Juanita.

And I don`t think it was my colleague`s intention to do that. But it`s just a natural state sometimes, I think, for people who are not persons of color that we -- white is the goal to. That`s the assumed, presumed position.

And her point is, they don`t even represent half of the people who have students in schools right now.

This effort to erase these levels of conversation, it seems like they`re saying, no, we don`t want to not just learn black history. This is American history. And it sounds a little odd that they`re saying, we don`t want our kids to be as smart as your kids, as everyone else`s kids.

How do you make that make sense?


TOLLIVER: I don`t make it make sense.

But I do appreciate Nikole Hannah-Jones for naming what she named, because it is that baseline simple erasure that is unconscious even in the minds of individuals that don`t understand that reality.

It`s something I battle in polling conversations or election strategy conversations all the time. And so naming that is central here, because I assure you, when people were talking about how education bubbled up to the top as a top three election issue in the last week of the Virginia gubernatorial race, they failed to point out the fact that, when black and Latinx` parents were naming education, they`re not talking about omitting portions of basic history.

They`re talking about quality schools and quality educations for their children. And we know that this parents` rights campaign that Youngkin ran played well with white voters, especially white women voters, as the GOP saw a 13-point jump.

So what we`re naming here and discussing here is, yes, that palatable racism, because, while they didn`t like the explicit frame and tone in which Trump used, they love this kind of ease-into-it-racism coming from someone like Youngkin. That appeals to them and makes them feel comfortable coming back to the GOP after leaving in, what, 2018.

I also think that it`s important that we understand here that what we`re seeing in Virginia is absolutely going to be replicated across the country, because the GOP already said, we don`t have a legislative agenda.

CROSS: Right.

TOLLIVER: McConnell`s rolling out any policy priorities. So racism is their go-to.

So expect to see it in Georgia. Expect to see it in Ohio. Expect to see it in Arizona. Expect to see it across the country, because the GOP is leaning on this exclusively to try to win votes in 2022.

CROSS: Yes, I mean, it`s playing out right before us.

Michael, something that I think is an important conversation to have, I -- a lot of individuals feel attacked. When you hear the pushback against CRT that, again, is not taught anywhere, it`s: We don`t want white children to feel guilty about who they are.

And it`s not an individual that`s under attack. It`s the system, which many white people, not all white people, but many white people benefit from. There are disenfranchised white folks as well who don`t benefit from it, despite voting for the system that keeps them disenfranchised.

What are some ways that you think some of our non-melanated brothers and sisters can accept that perspective and ally, be a part of the change without feeling personally attacked, if some people choose to prioritize their feelings? Because what they`re saying is, our discomfort is more important than reality and facts.

DYSON: Well, yes, we could have the ever-brilliant Tiffany Cross go out there and make that point, I mean, because look, the truth is, they`re more down with OPP than they are with CRT. They don`t even know what it is. They can`t define it. They can`t even speak about it ,other people`s politics in this case.

So what`s interesting is that we are theorizing about the potential impact on white students, when we know the real impact on black students, getting kicked out of school at 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 years old, being overpoliced by overzealous guardians of our safety.

We know that the integral part of an American educational system is to attack the intelligence of black kids. So, when we look at the actually existing condition for black kids in education vs. what might potentially happen to white kids, we are leveraging the potential future of black kids, of white kids against the actually existing reality and presence of black kids.

And this is what we got to do. First of all, we ain`t trying to make nobody feel guilty. We`re trying to get to the heart of the matter. Number two, when we look at what white kids do -- and I teach mostly white kids because I teach at a historically white college, a PWI, as they say, the truth is that those kids are hungry for it.

Let them speak up. Let them show their hunger. Let them show, we want to know this. We want to know what`s going on. We want to know the history of this.

Thirdly, as you said, ain`t nobody teaching Critical Race Theory in kindergarten or fifth grade or sixth grade. Critical Race Theory, as you well know, is a law school theory that was generated by Kimberle Crenshaw and Derrick Bell and a whole bunch of people.

And the thing is, is that they`re not teaching it in school. But what they are teaching in school is to be suspicious of the narratives of triumph and overcoming that whiteness has put forth.


DYSON: What we are teaching is to be skeptical about the default position of whiteness in American education.

Those are some of the things we can begin to speak to. We ain`t trying to hurt your kids` emotions or intelligence. We`re trying to challenge them to become the best we can be.

And, finally, let me say this. Discomfort is the basis of my educational pedagogy. You got to go in there and make people uncomfortable with their ignorance, uncomfortable with the received traditions and inherited beliefs that they have going on and taken into.


DYSON: And, as a result of that, we got to challenge that.


DYSON: So that`s what I`m about all day, every day.

CROSS: Yes, absolutely. We`re way over time.

I was wondering what OPP you were referencing, Dr. Dyson, there, but glad you clarified.



CROSS: Thank you, my friend. Thank you, Stuart Stevens, Juanita Tolliver.

DYSON: Well, they are for all the OPPs.


CROSS: Exactly.


CROSS: All right.

Thank you all. Thank you all for joining us.

And still coming up ahead: NASA`s new $10 billion space telescope successfully deploys its antenna after its Christmas launch. It can now beam images from really deep space back to Earth.

Noted astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi joins me to talk about what we hope to learn.

That`s really exciting. Stay next.


CROSS: All right, we have come pretty far in technological advances since man first walked on the moon, but we still only know what nearly 5 percent of the universe looks like.

Well, that`s about to change. On Christmas Day, NASA successfully launched the Webb Telescope, the largest and most expensive instrument ever sent into space, from South America.

Here`s that TV moment from NASA TV.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And liftoff. Liftoff from a tropical rain forest to the edge of the time itself. James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe.


CROSS: NASA has high hopes for the telescope, which is designed to see all the way back in time to the beginning of our universe.

Now, that might sound like science fiction, but it`s well within reach. The $10 billion -- billion with a B -- telescope is specially equipped with powerful infrared vision, meaning it`s able to see ancient stars and galaxies by mapping the way the light traveled through time.

Now, it sounds complicated, but it`s something that we actually witness frequently with the human eye. We`re actually looking back in time when we see the light from the stars in our night sky.

And that`s just the beginning of what we will hopefully learn from the telescope, which will be able to observe planets far beyond our solar system. Instead of just wondering if there`s life on Mars, there could be many other planets out there with the ability to sustain life.

As NASA put it, this is an Apollo moment. Webb will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe. It will be six months before we see any images from the telescope. And while the launch was successful, there`s a lot that could go wrong between now and then.

The telescope took 30 years to develop and involves what NASA calls giant high-tech origami. It was a sun shield that will eventually reach the size of a tennis court. The telescope was folded up to fit into the rocket, and throughout the next few weeks, it will start to unfurl.

As NASA put it, it`s an exciting, but harrowing time during which thousands of parts and sequences all have to work correctly together almost a million miles from Earth. So far, everything has gone according to plan the past few days, with the successful deployment of its antenna and the telescope making its first planed adjustment to its trajectory.

And just moments ago, NASA announced more good news, that it successfully completed its second plan course correction.

Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi joins me next to talk about this very exciting and unprecedented scientific feat.

Stay with this.



CROSS: All right, we`re a few days away into the historic launch of the James Webb Telescope, which, if all goes to plan, could answer questions about the beginning of the universe and whether there are any other planets out there that are able to sustain life.

Joining me now is Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist professor at George Mason University and president-elect of the National Society of Black Physicists.

Hakeem, I`m so excited to have you here. And I bet when you woke up this morning, you envisioned that you and I would be having this conversation, because any time something happens in space, you and I got to talk about it.



CROSS: I`m so confused.

How does this telescope see into time? People say telescopes are like time machines.

OLUSEYI: Yes. Yes. Yes.

CROSS: How will this telescope explain to us what happened so long ago? I mean, we`re talking like the infancy of Earth.

OLUSEYI: I know, right? It sounds crazy, but it`s real. It`s 100 percent real.

And -- but the thing about it is that a lot of this fancy stuff we talk about in physics that has to do with the cosmos, it`s happening in your life on a smaller scale, but you just don`t notice it.

So, if you`re sitting across the room talking to someone, the light takes time to leave them and pass to your eyes. So you`re seeing them as they were some fraction of a second. So, the farther you go, the longer it takes. The light from the sun is eight-and-a-half minutes.

When you start talking about the nearest stars, you`re talking about a few years. Well, James Webb is designed to look back at the first stars. So, we`re talking like 13 billion years.

So, think about it this way. Our universe is made up of galaxies. So we are in rooms. And in this room, there`s all these air molecules flying around, OK? Well, galaxies in the universe are just like that.

And the difference, though, is that the room is expanding. The universe is getting bigger. So, that changes everything. And one thing that changes is, it stretches the wavelength of light. And so that`s why the James Webb Space Telescope has these fancy gold-plated beryllium mirrors, so it can look at infrared light.

Those mirrors will reflect infrared light with a high efficiency, because that light from those first stars, by the time it reaches us, the expansion of the universe has stretched out the wavelength of those photons. So they may have been visible, but now they`re infrared.

CROSS: This is so exciting.

OLUSEYI: When they reach us, I mean.

CROSS: Yes, of course.


CROSS: Now, this telescope is actually going to produce pictures. It`s going to have photographs.

Will these photographs be discernible when we look at them, or is it like an X-ray, only a doctor will be able to understand?

OLUSEYI: Yes, you make a really good point there. Astronomers are really good at making -- using what we call false color to make light that is invisible to human eyes look like something we would expect, right?

So, we have X-ray telescopes, gamma ray telescopes, infrared, radio, and all of these are invisible to our eye, but we make these beautiful images.

Now, here`s the other thing that Webb is going to do. We have a satellite up right now called TESS, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. It`s finding planets around all the nearest stars. But it can`t tell you whether or not there`s life on those stars. That requires Webb`s instruments suite.

What it`s going to do is, it`s going to get what we call a spectra, but you can think of it like a nose smelling out, sniffing out the chemicals in the atmosphere. And if you find a sufficient number of biomarker molecules, then you may be able to say there is life on that planet.

CROSS: Do you think there`s life on other planets? I mean, this has been your life`s work.

Do you think...

OLUSEYI: Absolutely.

CROSS: ... there is life?

You do?


Well, I -- listen, I observe that life exists on planets, right, right here on Earth. I observe that intelligent life exists. So, it works. But what is the chances of there being multicellular life? Well, that depends on the interaction of the planet and the planet`s star.

Here on Earth, we`re lucky because we have a transparent atmosphere, so our planet is bathed in light. If you live on the surface of Venus, you don`t even know that stars exist, because the atmosphere is too thick.

But now, even if you get abundant multicellular life, do you get intelligent life? Possibly. Probably, I would think. Do you get technologically advanced life? I think that is super rare.

So, don`t look for aliens falling up in Cadillac spaceships, right? That`s unlikely to occur.


OLUSEYI: But microorganisms? They`re probably in our own solar system.

CROSS: All right. Wow.

Well, my friend, I continue to look for intelligent life right here on Earth.


OLUSEYI: You and me both.

CROSS: So, we will see.


CROSS: Exactly.

We will see what the Webb Telescope produces back. And when we do, you will have to come back so we can talk about it.

Thank you so much, Hakeem Oluseyi.

OLUSEYI: Thank you, ma`am.

CROSS: I will see you soon.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.