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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/29/21

Guests: Al Franken, Jon Ralston, Craig Spencer, Nikki Fried, Derrica Wilson

Summary

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dies at 82. Jury find Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five to six sex trafficking charges. Growing concerns about kids and COVID.

Transcript

[19:00:01]

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And as always, you can catch up with me online @arimelber on Instagram, or Twitter, or, yes, TikTok, whereas I`ve told you we`re hanging out more .And you can always link with me @arimelber.com where you can put in your email and sign up for a free newsletter for me. So, I invite you to go always to arimelber.com if you`re interested in that, or the TikTok or if the web is not your think, that`s fine. I`ll see you here tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. eastern.

THE REIDOUT starts right now with Tiffany Cross in for Joy. Hi, Tiffany.

TIFFANY CROSS, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari. We have got a busy show to get to. So just like you just told your viewers, we`ll see you tomorrow, I will see you tomorrow, my friend. So, thank you and have a good evening.

And thank you to everyone at home for tuning in. I`m Tiffany Cross in for Joy Reid. And we begin THE REIDOUT tonight remembering a great American fighter. Harry Reid, the longtime Senate Democratic leader, died Tuesday at the age of 82 after a four year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Now, his achievements, you`ve been hearing about this all day, there -- his achievements in the Senate are legendary. But here is the thing. There is a lot about Harry Reid, the man, you probably don`t know. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d like to answer that at this time. Mr. Austin is being very typical to this point. He`s lying. The only time I was at the Tangiers was when I had dinner with Barney Greenstein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was I at the dinner? Just tell me, was I at that dinner? Was I at that dinner?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were in the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the building? So, you know damn well I was at the dinner and you swore to me I would have a fair hearing at that dinner. Did you not? Did you not? Well, tell me I was at least at the dinner. Allow me that much. Give me that much at least.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Thanks for not calling me a liar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: That character played by Dick`s mother in Casino, that character is loosely based on Harry Reid. And the scene is based on a real life scene from 1978, a hearing when Reid was chairman of the Nevada`s Gaming Commission.

Reid`s incredible life story includes growing up in poverty in tiny Searchlight, Nevada, in a shack with no running water. His mother making ends meet doing laundry in brothels. His memoir, he recounted, learning to swim at a brothel, actually.

And while you may have heard about his time as an amateur boxer, Harry Reid was also a Capitol police officer while attending law school at George Washington University. And as a lawyer he specialized in what he called cases no one else would take, defending a cocktail waitress charged with writing bad checks and suing an apartment complex that illegally evicted his client who happened to work as a sex worker, all stops along the way to becoming one of the most powerful and interesting people in Washington.

Reid became Nevada`s lieutenant governor at the tender age of just 31 years old. He also served in the House of Representatives before he was elected to the upper chamber, the Senate, in 1986. Flags, as you see are flying at half staff on Capitol Hill where Reid served for more than three decades, including 12 years leading Senate Democrats, eight as majority leader.

And it was his relationship with President Barack Obama that cemented Reid`s legacy. Reid encouraged the then-senator from Illinois to run for president and later worked tirelessly to enact the Obama agenda, pushing through an economic recovery plan during the great recession and passing the Affordable Care Act.

In tribute, President Obama released a letter he had written to his good friend in his final days. He wrote, I wouldn`t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support and I wouldn`t have gotten most of what I got done without your skill and determination. The world is better because of what you`ve done. Not bad for a skinny poor kid from Searchlight.

Joining me is Al Franken. He`s a former Senator from Minnesota who served alongside Senator Reid. He`s also the Host of the Al Franken Podcast, which we`ll talk about in just a minute. And Jon Ralston, he`s CEO of the Nevada Independent. Thank you both for being here this evening to celebrate the life and legacy of Senator Harry Reid.

Senator Franken, I want to start with you because you recently, a couple years ago, traveled to Nevada to interview Senator Harry Reid. I`ve been listening to your podcast all day that you did with him.

FMR. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): Yes, oh, good.

CROSS: You had such a great conversation. You guys had such a warm relationship and such a wonderful exchange. Because of your relationship, I`m curious your thoughts, what`s his legacy?

FRANKEN: Well his legacy is the Affordable Care Act. That`s one of the big legacies. You`ll talk to John about his role in the Democratic Party, building the Democratic Party in Nevada. One of the things I think you heard in that piece is the podcast has just helped what great sense of humor Harry had.

I`ll give you an example, after President Obama did the state of the union address, we were walking back to the Senate chamber through statuary hall, which is this big room, it`s very echoey and there`s throngs of press on either side and it`s just a din and no one can hear what Harry and I are saying.

[19:05:13]

So, I turned to Harry and said, Harry talk to me like I`m someone important. And without a skipping a beat, he just says that would be impossible.

And that was Harry. Harry was just -- he was hilarious and I don`t know how many people knew that. He had a dry sense of humor. He also got my jokes more than anybody else. And one time, Bernie was reporting on the budget committee, he was ranking at this time, he said, they want to cut food stamps. What kind of religion cuts food stamps? And I said Southern Baptists, and only Harry laughed.

CROSS: Well, as a Southern Baptist, I`m laughing, as well, my friend.

FRANKEN: Yes.

CROSS: Yes. And you`re right, after the state of the union in stat hall, I mean, it was quite busy. So, for those of us who were on the Hill at that time covering it, I`m sure you were like, give me some cover here and talk to me like I`m important, that`s quite hilarious.

Jon, you just heard Senator Franken say -- speak about Senator Reid`s role in the Affordable Care Act. You yourself have talked about this and said that the Affordable Care Act could have been called the Reid Care because of the outsized role that he played in that. Talk, if you will, about that and his legacy in Nevada, particularly his role in building the Democratic Party and what is now very purple state with increasingly changing demographics.

JON RALSTON, CEO, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: Well, I think he was most proud of getting the Affordable Care Act through the Senate, which was no mean feat, in which you know that the president was enduringly grateful for him doing. He essentially, as I`ve said several times now, had to commit legalized bribery to get a couple of the reluctant colleagues to vote, or one of whom, a Ben Nelson essentially sacrificed his career to vote for the Affordable Care Act.

Reid -- when I talked to him for this book I am writing about him, he brings it up a lot his partnership with Obama and how Obama trusted him to get that through. I think it went into the story of Harry Reid is written, at least the one that I`m writing. I think I`ll talk a lot about Reid Care and why it should be named Reid care in the inside story of what really happened.

As far as Nevada goes, Harry Reid loved Nevada. The fact he was able to do two things, to build a Democratic Party machine after a near death experience, barely one in 1998, by about 400 votes against John Ensign, he built up a machine that was as formidable as any in the country and dominated Nevada politics for a decade-and-a-half.

But he also took a tiny, ignored, caricatured, even derived western state and turned it into a national power by getting the Democratic National Committee to make Nevada an early state in the presidential nominating process and who had the most influence over who would win those contests, none other than Harry Reid.

CROSS: You`re so right. Now, since you brought that up, I want to talk a little bit about that. Because you know, personally, I think it does make sense the demographics of Nevada much better represent the demographics of the country. But when the former majority leader that, he is really the person who started the ball rolling and it became an echo chamber of other lawmakers in the state legislature, you know, helped make that a reality. So, kudos to him for that.

Given that we`re going into a year of midterms and 2024, we`ll see how this all plays out, what impact do you think it will have on our federal elections, especially in 2024 during the presidential elections when Nevada will go first before Iowa and New Hampshire?

RALSTON: Well, we`re hoping that`s what happens. It hasn`t been officially set in stone but the arguments are all there. We`re not as white or all white as Iowa or New Hampshire or some state like Minnesota, I suppose. But --

FRANKEN: Hey, hey.

RALSTON: But we do hope that Nevada is going first. But Nevada would not be where it is without Harry Reid. And that machine, the so-called Reid machine, is essentially still intact and building towards 2022 and then 2024.

And Nevada, we are a very cosmopolitan state. Our Hispanic population is more than a quarter of the state. We have a growing Asian population as well, now in double digits, and an African American population, that has always been robust and around double digits.

[19:10:06]

Despite, as I mentioned earlier, the caricaturing of Nevada as a place with all the brothels and the casinos, slot machines on every corner, Las Vegas is actually a very different city than when Harry Reid first got to the U.S. Senate in 1986, and the state is very, very different than when he got there. He changed with the state. His story of evolution is also the story of the evolution of Nevada.

CROSS: Yes. And I`m forecasting when I say when, because I think that South Carolina and Nevada, forgive me, they`re going to come earlier. The DNC is talking about this right now. And that was no shade to you, Senator Franken from Minnesota, because we all know Minnesota is good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like Minnesota. But I will ask you --

FRANKEN: We have a very strong -- we have very strong Democratic Party (ph) there. I think those to say, are Nevada and Minnesota have two of the strongest Democratic Party organizations in the country.

CROSS: Well, I want to talk about that because, you know, Senator Reid was very influential in convincing President Obama to run. He was then-Senator Obama from Illinois and talked him into running for president. It was instrumental in cementing his legacy.

I understand that he also wanted to encourage you to run again for Senate. Why was he successful with President Obama and not successful with you, unless you want to break news here tonight and have an announcement for us?

FRANKEN: Oh, I ran. I ran twice and I won both elections. That`s the rest of a long story. But, no, Harry was very encouraging. In fact, Chuck Schumer was less so. And Harry was really the one who got behind me and I won that first one, I clobbered Norm Coleman by 312 votes, as you may recall.

CROSS: Yes, I do recall, my apologies.

FRANKEN: It was the smallest clobbering in history.

CROSS: A clobber is a clobber, my apologies. I thought he`d encourage you to run again after you left the Senate.

Jon, I want to bring it back to you --

FRANKEN: Well may. He actually did. Okay. I see what you`re talking about now. Yes, yes, we talked about that.

CROSS: Yes. Well, history has been written.

Jon, I want to toss it back to you because something interesting that I saw that the Senate majority leader did, he actually tried to outlaw prostitution in Nevada. You know, he learned to swim in brothels and that`s such a huge part of Nevada`s economics. He thought that it was an impediment to other business moving to Nevada. I`m curious because he was so beloved by the people in the state. How did they feel about that?

RALSTON: Well, I can tell you there were a lot of people that didn`t love Harry Reid for that, not just the folks who ran and worked in the brothels, and they made appearances in Carson City to lobby against that. It went over like a lead balloon. There was a very hostile news conference that I remember with Harry Reid after he gave that speech to the legislature and surprised everyone.

Remember, there are only two urban counties in Nevada out of the 17 and the other 15, where there is county options for brothels and many have brothels, have power up in Carson City, probably disproportionate to their numbers. And there was quite an outcry about it.

But you know what? Harry Reid treated that the same way he treated everything else. He didn`t care what the reaction was. He just decided he was going to move forward with the proposal, come what may. That was one that went nowhere but many of the proposals he made with Senator Franken will remember for their time together did go through and he was prescient on many, many issues, health care renewable act, (INAUDIBLE) issues and, of course, the nuclear waste dump, which was targeted for Nevada in 30-plus years. It does not --

FRANKEN: Right.

RALSTON: -- because of Harry Reid.

CROSS: Wow. Well, quite a legacy and life well lived. Our thoughts and condolences to his family. And thank you so much, Al Franken and Jon Ralston, for joining us. And my apologies to all the people from Nevada for mispronouncing Nevada in our open. Nevada, Nevada, Nevada, my apologies.

Thank you, Jon.

FRANKEN: And it`s Reno not Reno.

CROSS: Thank you, thank you. I appreciate that.

FRANKEN: Just for the next time.

CROSS: Thank you both so much for being here.

FRANKEN: Thank you.

CROSS: Thank you, guys.

Before the break, we have breaking news from Manhattan. Late today, a jury found Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein, guilty, of five of the six federal sex trafficking counts she was facing, including sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

[19:15:00]

She`s facing the likelihood of decades behind bars.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, as COVID surges again, there is growing concern about children, how they and their teachers will be affected by the new quarantine rules.

And also --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All Florida residents should be outraged and they should ask the question now, where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: Florida man at it again. With Florida among the states hardest hit by the omicron surge, Governor Ron DeSantis is MIA.

Plus, when white people go missing, the news can be a national sensation but it`s completely different for families of color. Now, an HBO documentary, Black and Missing, is shining a light on this disparity. We`ll talk about that.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:00]

CROSS: All right. Tidal wave, it`s the phrase no one wants to hear about the spread of a deadly airborne -- virus, but it`s the most apt description for what is happening as Omicron and Delta soar.

New U.S. COVID cases are at a record seven-day average of more than 265,000 per day. That`s as of Tuesday. This is happening just days before kids returned to the classroom after the holiday break and as child COVID hospitalizations are up.

Per an NBC News analysis, the average number of children hospitalized with COVID jumped 52 percent just in the last four weeks. How school districts are navigating this crisis varies. New York City schools will reopen on Monday with expanded testing, but relaxed quarantine rules.

On the other hand, D.C. public schools will require all students and staff to show proof of a negative COVID test before they come back. Masks could soon return to Miami-Dade schools, while California is providing each public school student with a rapid COVID test before returning to class.

Now, as for colleges like UCLA, Yale and Duke, it`s back to remote learning for a few weeks at least. Now, the pandemic, for certain, has sparked more appreciation for teachers. But here we are again two years later, educators risking their health on the COVID front lines, parents without options on how to ensure both the education and safety of their kids, and what continues to feel like a giant experiment on children.

Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Craig Spencer. He`s an emergency medicine physician and the director of global health and emergency medicine at Columbia Medicine. And I am thrilled to have Mara Gay, a "New York Times" editorial board member and MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you so much to both of you for being here.

Doctor, I want to start with you. The Omicron kids is what these children have been dubbed. The rising number of pediatric cases keeps going up. It has one E.R. doctor wondering, what`s going to happen three weeks from now?

So, as a member of the medical community, I will ask you to make a prediction. What could the country potentially look like three weeks from now?

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, not only just as a medical doctor, but also as a parent myself, I`m obviously concerned.

I have a kid in pre-K and I have another kid in day care. And here in New York City, we`re seeing a huge number of cases. And I suspect the same will happen all over the country. The tidal wave will wash over the rest of the U.S., just as it has in New York City.

And the numbers that you present, 200,000 kids got COVID in the week ending December 23, the one that we have the most data for. We have hospitalizations. And we still have around 800 children that have died from COVID throughout this pandemic, and around one in 10 have been infected.

We know that kids generally have less severe disease with COVID, thankfully, but I do have concerns that, the next coming weeks, we`re going to see a lot of cases, and some of those will be hospitalized, unfortunately.

CROSS: And not all kids have less severe cases.

SPENCER: Correct.

CROSS: I think people should understand that some kids get severely ill, and some, unfortunately, even die.

Mara, this is what you wrote a year ago, which was devastating. You said that you were one of the millions of people still fighting to regain your full health. And, at the time, it was months after you were surviving COVID. And you talk about the pulmonologists, the team of two brilliant brave women who treated COVID-19 patients in the ICU throughout the pandemic.

And you also talk about the physical therapist who cheered you on while you were hooked to oxygen and other machines and climbing what you said at the time felt like a mountain.

You -- your documenting your own journey has been frightening for all of us to witness and a warning to so many people. What is your journey like today? How do you feel? What`s your current health status?

MARA GAY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: So I`m feeling a lot better, thank God.

And that`s thanks to a combination of luck and faith and a lot of help and resources that, unfortunately, millions of Americans and others around the world do not have access to.

I have serious concerns about not just long COVID, but organ damage that many Americans are going to experience from what may be -- quote, unquote - - "mild COVID infections." And with the caseload as high as it is, that remains a concern.

I am getting better every day. I`m expected to regain my full health. And I`m certainly determined to do so. I`m running. I have been working almost the whole time. And so I`m one of the lucky ones. I think it`s been very humbling.

And thank you for asking, but, honestly, I am not only somebody who`s lucky enough to survive, but is lucky enough to be regaining her full health.

[19:25:03]

I mean, I also want to be not just a cautionary tale, but I hope a good example of the healing that can take place over a longer period of time. Not everybody gets well in two weeks.

SPENCER: Right.

GAY: But that is not an excuse to cast them aside and call them disabled, and nor should we cast aside people in the disabled community, period. But I think there`s been too much of that. What people really need is help to get well, physical therapy and access to that help.

The other thing I`m really concerned about is, again, long COVID and longer tail issues from this pandemic. I think there`s been far too much of a cavalier attitude toward mild infections. We don`t really talk about what that could mean in the long run.

And I think the really main goal that we should be communicating to the American public at this point is just, hang on a little while longer, keep doing the right thing, get vaccinated, stay masked, because the goal actually at this point is to cut that link between infection and severe illness and death.

And we can do that over time, so living with COVID does not mean living with it in the way we have been for the past two years. But I don`t think Americans fully understand that. And so, when faced with that weariness, there is a sense of maybe we should just give up.

But there`s good reason not to. If we can just hang on a little while longer, more treatment is coming. More help is coming. And it will be a very different situation if we can pull together in that.

CROSS: Yes, I love -- thank you for saying that. I think that`s such a crucial message at this time.

And, Doctor, you just heard Mara say -- and I agree -- there`s a cavalier attitude about these mild infections.

SPENCER: Right.

CROSS: So, as we talk about these kids who are increasingly occupying hospitals, and you yourself said, well, it`s not as challenging with children, and all children anyway.

SPENCER: Yes.

CROSS: But how do we know that these kids a year from now or five years from now won`t have some lasting impacts or be long haulers with COVID?

Does the data support any conclusive evidence that that won`t happen at this point?

SPENCER: That`s a great question. And we don`t have a lot of data, unfortunately. We should have it at this point.

We actually don`t even have enough data on long COVID in adults that have survived this illness. We do know that some children have unfortunately had a multisystem inflammatory condition after COVID. We have seen that. That`s been well-documented.

And, as Mara pointed out, we need to do everything we can to prevent as many cases as possible, which means getting those kids that are eligible for vaccination vaccinated. That is the best way to prevent them from getting sick and, by extension, prevent them from having long COVID, vaccinating those around them, teachers, people they interact with, their parents.

We need to create bubbles as much as we can, because, as you said, the tidal wave is coming. And it`s really up to us doing not just vaccines, but protecting ourselves, protecting our families, getting vaccinated, masks, all these things that we know that work. These are going to be the ways that we are hopefully able to cut down on that burden, not just of hospitalizations and deaths, which matter as well, of course, but preventing those long-term complications, many of which we still don`t know what it`ll be like in a year or five years or 10 years from now. I

CROSS: You both have just been a cautionary tale and provided great words of encouragement.

So, thank you so much to Dr. Craig Spencer and Mara Gay.

Mara, it`s so great to see you. I`m so happy to see you healthy and well on the screen. Thank you both.

Still ahead: Where in the world is Ron DeSantis? The Florida governor has been missing in action since the start of the latest COVID surge. His Twitter feed would believe you -- would have you believe that he`s out and about.

But one photo he posted is from 12 days ago. What`s really going on?

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:59]

CROSS: All right, some of you may remember that Childish Gambino warned us all about the dangers of Florida man.

And nobody embodies that moniker more than the state`s governor, Ron DeSantis, who, mind you, has repeatedly opposed COVID prevention measures. Well, now the incompetent Trump acolyte appears to be missing in action as Omicron sweeps across his state.

In a press conference yesterday, Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County, which encompasses the city of Orlando, slammed the DeSantis for his inaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY DEMINGS (D), MAYOR OF ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Our residents, all Florida residents should be outraged. And they should ask the question now, where`s our state? Where`s our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?

When was the last time you saw the governor do a press briefing regarding COVID-19?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: When was the last time Florida man held a press conference on COVID?

Now, according to "The Orlando Sentinel," it was on December 17, which is almost two weeks ago. And in those two weeks, the state of Florida has seen an increase in COVID cases of more than 1000 percent. In fact, the state just reported a record-breaking number of new cases today, the most since the pandemic began.

Now, of course, this comes after Florida man implemented oppressive restrictions -- restrictions on private businesses back in November, preventing them from being able to require vaccinations and also prohibiting mask requirements in schools.

I mean, is Ron DeSantis pro-COVID? Is he out here caping for Omicron? Because it sure seems like it. DeSantis has made it more difficult to limit the spread of Omicron, which may explain why Florida is now among the top five hardest-hit states.

In fact, the last time DeSantis did actually hold a press conference about COVID, he was focused on treatments, not prevention. He`s been totally unwilling to promote vaccinations among his residents.

[19:35:08]

And it gets worse. Florida man would rather do it for the Gram than do it for the people. Just hours after Mayor Demings said he was missing in action, DeSantis dropped a pic of himself visiting a local restaurant, but just one problem. The timeline is fugazi, my friends.

Daniel Uhlfelder of the group Remove Ron pointed out that the photograph was really 12 days` old. And we checked with the governor`s office, which confirmed the visit on his schedule back on November 16.

Joining me now is Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. She is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.

Nikki, so happy to have you with me this evening.

Simple question: Where is Ron DeSantis?

NIKKI FRIED (D), FLORIDA COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE: I have no idea.

And thank you, Tiffany, for having me on here tonight. He canceled our Cabinet meeting in the middle of December, our clemency meeting. And I haven`t seen him since December 17. So I don`t know where he is.

But, to be quite honest, even if he was here, he wouldn`t be doing anything anyhow. And we know that. And so, once again, the people of our state are going to have to step up and beat this virus without him.

Our local county and city commissioners are once again having to stand up testing sites, because there are very few state-run testing sites. I sent a letter to him yesterday asking him to please engage. We have got five-hour lives down in Miami-Dade County and people that are waiting in lines all across our state.

And he`s nowhere to be found, no response, no action. And so, once again, the people of our state are to be counting on their local (INAUDIBLE) and for leadership amongst themselves in order to get through this virus.

CROSS: I mean, he`s essentially running as a pro-COVID governor.

And this is somewhat of a delicate dance that he`s doing with his mentor, it seems, Donald Trump, who recently said DeSantis would make a great V.P., God help us all, should he run in 2024.

It`s really weird, but, for some dumb reason, the bigger denier of science you are, the more popular you are in the Republican Party. Could this be strategy that he`s doing, willing to sacrifice the residents of the state and let people fall victim to COVID, just so he can gain an outsized position and power?

FRIED: Yes, this is the basic problem that we have with Republicans who like FOX News more than they like the people of their own state that they`re running, that they go on, and they create chaos, and they create these problems.

And then they rely on us to fix them and to be able to clean up their mess, and then they take credit for it. So, this is a bigger picture for Ron DeSantis. We all know here in the state of Florida that he is running for president in 2024.

And so he has left our state. This is the third time that he has done this when the pandemic is at -- spiking here in the state, where we see no leadership. We show that, right now, our ALS and our retirement communities and our nursing homes are 17 percent with the booster shots.

And there`s no action from this governor, who used to say seniors first, and now he`s leaving all of them very vulnerable in our state, showing no leadership. I got my vaccine, my booster shot today. I did it in public to show this is what a leader is supposed to do, lead by example, and telling the people of our state, thank you.

CROSS: Well...

FRIED: Thank you for waiting in line, and thank you for standing up. Thank you for making sure that you`re protecting yourselves and your family members, your co-workers. Thank you to our first responders, who are still out there every single day taking care of us.

But our governor, MIA.

CROSS: Well, thank you for telling us about the booster shot. That`s something that your opponent seems to find very difficult to do.

You mentioned FOX News, F-A-U-X News.

I want you to take a listen to an interview with him and Maria Bartiromo and see how he responded to the question about a booster shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Have you gotten the booster?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, I have done whatever I did, the normal shot. And that, at the end of the day, is people`s individual decisions about what they want to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: So, Maria bada-baba did not even follow up with him or press him on that. I don`t think she really cares.

So, this is my delicate question to you. I have been to Florida. I love Florida, spent some time in Miami, did a whole special down there.

FRIED: Come on back.

CROSS: I will. I will definitely be back very soon.

So -- and I have friends in Florida. However, I just wonder, is this something that`s appealing to Florida voters? Because the fact that there were so many people to elect and vote for Ron DeSantis, not counting things like voter suppression and the ways that power structure has limited some people`s pathway to the ballot box, it seems like there is something appealing to Florida voters about being anti-science.

[19:40:12]

And if that`s the case, how do you overcome that? And is it a GOTV game, with convincing people to get out and vote? Or do you try to convince those people who like how he`s handling the pandemic to believe in logic and reason?

FRIED: Well, first of all, I think I need to remind the rest of the country -- and, certainly, people here in our state know this -- Ron DeSantis only won by 34,000 votes out of 8.3 million that were cast.

So, he`s certainly leading our state like he believes that he won in a landslide. And, unfortunately, I think that he does believe that being anti-science -- look at who he appointed as our new surgeon general here in our state. And he believes that this kind of rhetoric or let`s dance around the issues, maybe I got a booster, maybe I didn`t, maybe I don`t know who it was -- I got a Pfizer booster.

I knew exactly who -- what kind of booster I got. So, he`s dancing around this issue. But I think it goes back down to, regardless of if you believe in the vaccine or you don`t, it shows a lack of leadership, and a quality that you should be looking for in a governor.

And be honest. If you got the booster, why not tell people? Show and lead it by example and be that true leader. If you didn`t, say you didn`t.

But the fact that he is dancing around the answer and not being honest with the people of our state, that is really the question that people should be asking every single day, and especially at the ballot box in 2022.

Who do you want to be as your next governor? Do you want somebody who`s going to dance around the issues, put your personal safety at risk, or somebody who is going to have the booster, have it in public, be out there every day encouraging people to take these safety measures, get the vaccine, listen to CDC, and make sure that you`re protecting your loved ones and your community members?

CROSS: Yes, thank you for delivering that message.

He`s very strange. He`s in a strange thruple with Donald Trump and people who lack intellectual curiosity.

So, good luck to you on the campaign trail. Nikki, you will have to come back very soon. Thank you so much for joining us this evening.

And up next: The new HBO series "Black and Missing" is a wakeup call for America, raising awareness about black missing persons cases ignored by both police and the media.

Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, she joins me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:34]

CROSS: OK, get this.

Black Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and a striking 34 percent of all missing persons cases reported in 2020. But in what the late, great Gwen Ifill referred to as the missing white woman syndrome, white victims get a disproportionate amount of media coverage, with the disappearance of Gabby Petito, a white woman, being the most obvious example of that this year.

That disparity is why sisters-in-law Derrica and Natalie Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation to raise awareness and help find missing people of color. They`re featured in a new four-part HBO documentary series, "Black and Missing."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERRICA WILSON, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, BLACK AND MISSING FOUNDATION: African- Americans remain missing four times longer than white Americans. That number is alarming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hear from families all the time: The police is turning us away. The media wouldn`t respond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking for a missing daughter.

WILSON: And it drove me and my sister-in-law Natalie to want to do something about it, to help these other families, because, if not us, who?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: If not us, who, indeed.

That documentary covers several cases of missing black people the group has worked, including Akia Eggleston, a pregnant black woman who disappeared right before her baby shower. Some of her Baltimore neighbors say the police never even interviewed them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILSON: The committee that Akia went missing from, there`s been a number of missing black and brown women. It just didn`t appear that there was anything being done, in my eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you remember her, by any chance, our daughter? She used to live on the corner house. She was pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the neighbors said that law enforcement didn`t even come out to ask if they had seen or heard anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: Who is going to protect black girls? That was just one example of the way the system treats people of color differently, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.

Children of color tend to be classified as runaways, instead of missing, with minority adults often labeled as associated with criminal involvement.

The foundation also notes that many Americans seem to be desensitized when it comes to people of color, to the extent that they think crime is a regular part of their lives. It`s exhausting.

After the break, I will talk to "Black and Missing" co-founder Derrica Wilson about those disparities and the documentary "Black and Missing."

You don`t want to miss this. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sister went missing in 2009. But all the major news stations, nobody would talk to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gwen Ifill coined the term missing white woman syndrome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don`t meet those criteria, blond hair, blue eyes, your stories are not newsworthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here`s my niece. She`s missing. Her story is just as compelling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have nothing for our missing people, except black folks` spit and grit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: That was a clip from the trailer of HBO`s "Black and Missing," a documentary series featuring the work of the Black and Missing Foundation which raises awareness of and searches for missing people of color.

I`m joined now by Derrica Wilson. She`s the co-founder and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation.

Derrica, so much -- thank you so much for being here.

This work is incredibly important.

WILSON: Thank you for having me.

CROSS: Thank you. I appreciate you being here.

This work is incredibly important that you`re doing. Talk a little bit about what exactly your group does. But, more importantly, the people watching at home, what can viewers do to help elevate some of these stories that really don`t get a lot of attention in the media?

WILSON: Absolutely.

So, our organization, we`re bringing awareness to missing persons of color, because, oftentimes, their cases are simply not taken seriously.

We`re working with law enforcement to take the police report to elevate these cases. We`re working with our media partners to shine a spotlight. We understand and realize that not every case is going to make the 5:00 and 10:00 news cycle. We understand that not every case is going to elevate to mainstream media.

But, again, less is more, less of one particular race and more of everyone that`s missing greater, the chances of a reunion. So, we really need our community to get involved, share these flyers, make them go viral.

This thing in time, our flyers are considered the digital milk carton, so it has a great reach getting across from city to city, state to state, because one share is all it takes to help find these missing individuals.

[19:55:06]

CROSS: That`s such a great point that you make, because social media really has democratized the process of who gets a voice in these spaces, because, for so long, we were left out of conversations in the mainstream media, so really good point.

When folks are sharing the funny memes and all the other things, please take a moment to help amplify the cases of the missing, because it`s really heartbreaking.

I actually have worked on a lot of missing cases myself. I used to be a field producer for "America`s Most Wanted." One case I worked on, you talk about in your documentary, and that`s the case at Tamika Huston...

WILSON: Yes.

CROSS: ... a missing woman from Spartanburg, South Carolina, your hometown, as I understand it. I spent all a lot of time in Spartanburg.

Something interesting about her case, her aunt Rebekah Howard was a media guru. She was a P.R. executive. And she, even with all of her experience, Tamika Huston`s name was never really elevated to national attention, despite all of all of her work.

What`s something that families themselves can do to help make sure that their missing loved ones are getting the attention? And I want to be clear. The onus is on broadcast networks and news outlets and print outlets who salivate over the chance to cover missing white faces.

But how can families penetrate that layer of whiteness, where we are not often welcome?

WILSON: We need families to continue to be persistent.

We need for them to come to the Black and Missing Foundation. We don`t want them to ever think that they`re in this alone. We`re going to help them pound the pavement and get these stories out there.

We want to utilize not just the mainstream media and the news cycles, but, again, going back to social media. So one of the tools that we actually help provide families with is a flyer that has the police department`s information and our contact information, because, so often, families are taking matters into their own hands.

They`re putting their personal contact information on these flyers. And yet they`re being victimized, because they`re receiving the scam and the ransom calls. So we want to help them. We know that they are very vulnerable. We are very sensitive to their cases.

And we just want to help them bring their loved ones home. Think about if you have misplaced your car keys or your cell phone. Your anxiety is through the roof. Now, multiply that times a million for someone that has a missing loved one. It is undescribable.

So this is what these families are going through when they`re desperately knocking down the doors of law enforcement, when they`re desperately knocking down the doors of media. And we need more diversity in the newsroom, because, in these particular cases, the decision-makers, quite frankly, don`t look like us.

CROSS: You are speaking my language, sister.

(LAUGHTER)

CROSS: Here at this network, our decision-makers do look like us. But, yes, I take your point, for sure.

(CROSSTALK)

CROSS: But, yes, I want to talk about the number of people who are missing. Disproportionately, they`re girls.

And I take your point about the anxiety you feel when you misplace your car keys. Imagine, especially for people under 18; 72 percent of the people missing are under 18. Out of that 72 percent, 54 percent are female, 46 percent are male. But when it gets to people under 18, it`s disproportionately young girls.

I have walked into -- covering this beat, I have walked into homes and interviewed parents. And I have had a mother tell me once that she would rather find out that her child was dead, instead of living years not knowing what happened to her child. I cannot imagine that level of angst.

Why do you think it`s disproportionate young black girls who are missing relative to boys, particularly when it comes to under 18?

WILSON: Well, I really feel that human trafficking is a multibillion- dollar industry that is happening right here on U.S. soil.

And when it comes to missing girls and boys, that is actually playing a factor, human trafficking. And these pimps are preying on our children because they feel that no one is going to look for us when we go missing.

CROSS: Yes. Yes, you`re absolutely right.

And I do just want to point out that there are a disproportionate amount of black people missing, the amount of indigenous women who have gone missing and been summarily dismissed by the media and law enforcement and other folks of color as well, so, by all means, definitely more folks of color as decision-makers.

And you`re doing this documentary with the GOAT, Soledad O`Brien.

WILSON: Yes.

CROSS: I`m sure that it is excellent.

Soledad O`Brien, Queen Soledad, all of us in journalism bow down to her excellence.

WILSON: Yes, absolutely.

CROSS: So, Derrica Wilson, thank you so much, not just for this documentary, but for all the work that you do.

And good luck to you. Thank you for being here.

WILSON: Thank you so much.

CROSS: The four-part documentary -- thank you.

The four-part documentary series "Black and Missing" is available on HBO and HBO Max.

And time flies. That is tonight`s REIDOUT. I will see you here tomorrow.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.