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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/6/21

Guests: Dana Milbank, Nancy MacLean, LaTosha Brown, Bernard Ashby

Summary

White supremacists march in D.C.. White nationalism on the rise after four years of Trump. Trump`s big lie threatens to dismantle U.S. democracy. Milbank says, media neutrality in the struggle between democracy and fascism is not a virtue.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with scenes from Washington D.C. this weekend. You`re looking at more than 100 white supremacists called The Patriot Front, who marched around outside the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday night. Their goal, they say, is to reclaim America on behalf of their white ancestors. And according to the Anti- Defamation League, they openly define themselves as fascists.

Now, if they seem familiar, that`s because they were among the extremist groups at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, though they changed their name after one of their members murdered Heather Heyer with his car. Of course, their extremist views and ridiculous plastic shields earn them lots and lots of mockery this weekend, especially when several were awkwardly left stranded at the Arlington Memorial Bridge because their U-Haul wasn`t large enough to carry them all home. Indeed, the look, okay, really stupid.

And it`s easy to laugh at them, but to do so is will be to under estimate them and the millions like them whose radical ideas are on the assent in this country. Let`s not forget, the many that laughed at Donald Trump back in 2016 and even after he was elected, thanks to four years of Trump, this country is now a backsliding democracy, according to an international think tank, and that is no joke.

The truth is this country doesn`t have a great track record of recognizing authoritarians for what they are, at least not until it`s too late. According Smithsonian Magazine, Benito Mussolini was darling of the American press and American papers credited Italian fascism with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy.

Similarly, Adolf Hitler was dismissed as a joke, a nonsensical screecher of wild words, according to Newsweek at the time. American press outlets predicted Hitler would be outplayed by more traditional politicians or who become more moderate. In other words, they got it wrong, badly wrong.

Now, fast forward to the current day and we`re seeing similar pattern emerge when it comes to the threat of Trump`s big lie. As Barton Gellman warns in The Atlantic, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft under our very noses. He notes that if the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away or millions to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.

That will be the end of democracy as we know it. This American experiment with multiracial democracy, well, that will be over. And yet, for much of the media in this country it`s been business as usual despite that looming threat. As Columnist Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post, too many journalist are caught in a mindless neutrality between democracy and its saboteurs, between fact and fiction. It`s time to take a stand.

For his column, Milbank actually hired a data analytics company to measure and compare media sentiment towards President Biden and toward Donald Trump. He found that Biden`s press for the last four months has been as bad as and for a time even worse than the coverage that Trump received for the same four months of 2020. Not only that, but Trump got roughly twice as much coverage in 2020 as Biden has received in all of 2021 so far.

Milbank notes that the country is in an existential struggle between self- governance and an authoritarian alternative, and we in the news media collectively have given equal if not slightly more favorable treatment to the authoritarians.

Dana Milbank joins me along with Jason Johnson, Professor of Journalism and Politics at Morgan State University and host of the slate podcast, A Word with Jason Johnson, along with Nancy MacLean, historian and author of Democracy in Chains, the Deep History of the Radical Right`s Stealth Plan for America.

Dana, I am going to start with you, because I notice that the response to many media beltway media people to your piece was to fight with you about being mean to their particular media entity, right? You have people from Politico yelling at you on Twitter saying you said mean things to Politico, and it`s like that`s not the point.

And I felt you kept trying to make the point that this isn`t about saying mean things about one media outlet`s coverage. It`s literally the overall impact of their coverage. You wrote, Biden is attempting to salvage democratic norms. The people opposing him are using fascist tools of deception and voter disenfranchisement, neutrality in the struggle is not a virtue.

[19:05:07]

I heard and high-fived you on Twitter. I just want to let you go. Talk about what you`ve seen from the inside of what this media is doing, in your view, that`s helping authoritarianism thrive.

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, Joy, and I certainly didn`t mean to suggest that it`s a problem of one outlet or another or this one is better than that. Sure, some are better than others but that`s not the point. This is -- I mean, think about it. Comparing the last four months of 2020 when Donald Trump was threatening to not honor the results of a free and fair election and then ultimately didn`t honor the results of a free and fair election, he was embracing the Proud Boys, white supremacists, he was embracing QAnon, he was the Post Office. And at that period of time, he got similar to more favorable coverage than Biden is getting today. So, I think that`s astonishing.

And, look, people in my business, and I support this notion, we like conflict, we`re combative, we like to hold the power to account, but we`re in a whole different game here. It`s not Democrats against Republicans, it`s small D Democrats against authoritarians. And as you noted in the beginning, in many ways, we`re losing the struggle.

So, I agree with reporters not being partisan but we should be partisan when it comes to democracy. We should be partisan when it comes to the facts, and I think that`s where I think we need to take a stand.

REID: Right. And, Jason, I`ve long said that the media`s only real bias, at least the mainstream media, is towards change and conflict, right? Donald Trump was entertaining for a lot of beltway journalist. He was also open. He gave lots of leaks. His administration gave you lots of data and lots of sort of conflict-driven content. He was a content creator. And so there was -- whereas what I remember when Barack Obama was in, the media generally disliked the Obama administration even though they were not doing anything dangerous, he couldn`t even wear a tan suit. The media would go ballistic and go nuts over him because he wasn`t accessible, because he was seen as cold and not really accessible. There was no access.

My challenge here, and this goes all the way back to the way the media operated in the `20s with Mussolini, is that the media underplays the danger when a political party is out of step with democratic norms and they overstate the horror when a Democrat generally or somebody who is more of a normal politician does anything that makes them annoyed, right, anything irritates sort of elite journalist. I`m worried that that tendency is always going to help the Trumps of the world and always going to hurt the Bidens. And that`s not good for our democracy.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Joy, you`re exactly -- no, it`s not. And, Dana, you`re underselling yourself. No, thank you. Thank you for being someone who actually said this and, quite frankly, there is a racialized element to this as well that I`m happy that you`re the individual who said this, because this is something that black journalists have been streaming about since Donald Trump got into office.

When the man ran basically saying, I`m going to clear out this country of anybody who`s not white and straight, it took three years for large numbers of media outlets, and I`ll say the names, not everybody at these particular outlets but The Hill did this, and Politico did this, and The New York Times did this. We`ve all talked about this for years.

It took almost three years for most of the mainstream press to say, hey, this guy is an actual existential threat to democracy, and people who talked about it, especially journalists of color, were called alarmists, were told they were being extreme. And then it literally took a man trying to overthrow an election and then send terrorists to try to overthrow the results in January for a lot of folks to realize it. It is a problem. It is a danger.

Is it entirely the fault of the media? No, it`s not. But it is in part the fault we don`t hold each other accountable and when people want to get angry out messenger instead of taking responsibility for the messages that they have been spewing. This is arguably one of the most important articles of journalism I have seen in a very long time.

I`m so happy that we`re bringing this to the floor. Because as we go into 2022, and a lot of the things that they`ve talked about in The Atlantic start to manifest themselves, when you see in Georgia and Oklahoma and different in Texas where large swaths of are going to get thrown out the window, if we don`t establish the language and dialogue necessary to point these dangers out, then we will have stolen elections and 2024 will already be done.

REID: Yes. And, Nancy, I don`t know if you can pull back up this picture. I mean, you had a group of white supremacists who admit to being fascist, who are proud of it, marched at the Lincoln Memorial, this does not become an alarmed story of existential crisis, whereas Hillary Clinton`s emails about her risotto were the absolute obsession of the media.

And, again, I don`t want to pick on one particular outlet, but The New York Times literally ran an excerpt of the book written by Steve Bannon`s partner and ran that as if it was like a huge breaking news with alleged wrongdoing from the Clinton Foundation that wasn`t even real.

[19:10:12]

But there is this sense that Democrats get held to this sort of normal standard and they get just attacked for any little deviation, a tan suit, emails that you don`t give the media access to, whereas this latitude that we, you know, and, again, not every outlet are giving Republicans, includes trafficking and fascism, anti-Muslim attacks that could get a literal member of Congress killed.

The latitude is so wide. Can you try to help us understand why that is happening?

NANCY MACLEAN, AUTHOR, DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: Yes, and I want to thank Dana too. That was just an incredible article and so important and needs to be read by everyone, I think, because many of us said what is going on here. The coverage is so imbalanced. And the attacks on the Biden administration and saying Democrats are divided, no, they were legislating. They were doing the hard work of trying to get important things done for the American people. And I think so many in the media, mainstream media, Joy, you`re such a breath of fresh air, but seem not to have any sense of history of political science of what we need in this moment.

So, we know from the work of a scholar who have studied how democracy slide into authoritarian. This doesn`t come with clanging armored tanks and generals strutting around in most modern countries and in most places of serious democratic backsliding, it comes when the rules of democracy are shifted and rigged in order to ensure the triumph of a particular party.

And we know that authoritarians do things, like reject the democratic rules of the game. They deny the legitimacy of the other side, they encourage or tolerate violence and they show a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of their opponents. All four of these things are now characteristics not only of Donald Trump but of the modern Republican Party.

We`re in a situation in which we have to remember this. There are only two Republicans who supported, you know, the -- looking into the impeachment of, I mean, into the attempted coup on January 6th, only two Republicans who voted to censor Representative Gosar when he promoted violence against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and we could go through many other things. But as Jason was saying too, they are systematically trying to get control of election administration in almost every state they control so that they can rig the election, possibly as early as 2022 but certainly in 2024.

And in those circumstances, as Dana has suggested, and as you`re all suggesting, to act as though, you know, normal media norms of neutrality is to participate in the destruction of democracy before our eyes.

REID: Let me read a little bit from Barton Gellman, who you should also read this piece, all of you great readers out there in The Atlantic. He says, Trump and his party have convinced a dauntingly large number of Americans that the essential workings of democracy are corrupt, that made- up claims of fraud are true, that only cheating can thwart their victory at the polls, that tyranny has usurped their government and that violence is a legitimate response.

And, Dana, I think you were getting at that, as well. And here is the challenge. The Republican Party is an almost mono-racial party. So, they are directing that message at a specific group of white Americans to terrify them into thinking their country is being stolen by people who look like me and Jason. And that in order to stop that, anything is okay.

My challenge is, we as the media have got to point out, that is not normal Republican politics. My father loved Republicans. He was a big Reaganite. That is not normal Republican politics. It`s something entree. Why do you think that we -- is it because the media has been so terrified by the right calling us liberal media and making up the idea that the is liberal? Is that -- is it fear? What do you think is holding people back from telling the truth about it?

MILBANK: Some of it may be fear and some of it may just be returning to the previous business as usual. That was sort of the default position before. It just no longer works now. And the piece by Bart I think is terrific. It`s because of the big lie. It`s not -- it`s not those clowns marching in Washington with their captain America shields. They`re clowns. There are tens of millions of people who are no longer on board with the democratic experiment.

There are at least ten states including Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida that was just referenced have given politicians essentially the ability to overrule the vote of the people.

[19:15:07]

This could happen in 2024. There are signs that this is exactly what is going to happen. We can`t sit there and say, oh, that`s bad on the one hand but, well, it`s just as bad that Joe Biden can`t pass his social infrastructure bill. They`re not at all on the same equation.

REID: It`s on the one hand on the other hand. I mean, Nancy, just because you wrote a whole book on this, I`m going to give you the last word on this. It feels like the on the one hand, on the other hand tendency, the media does not want to be at war with Republicans. They never wanted to be at war with Donald Trump. The media doesn`t want that smoke. There is something else they want but it ain`t that. Is that going to allow us to just wake up on January 2025 without our democracy and wonder what happened?

MACLEAN: Yes, absolutely. If that both sidesism continues, we are in absolutely dire straits. And I personally, you know, as you point out, you know, I`ve written about this, I`ve and researched this, this is not about liberals versus conservatives. This is actually not even about Republicans versus Democrats. The Republican Party has been captured by dark money donors and who have fed red meat to that white base for so long now that people have left the factual universe.

You know, we saw today from NPR that the death rate from COVID is now three times higher in states that voted for Donald Trump, and the more they voted for Donald Trump, the higher the death rate. These are people who have left the rails of science, of constitutional democracy and all the incentives, and this is important to understand too, all the incentives in their world pushed for continued behavior. The more outrageous these members of Congress get, the more their social media ratings go up, the more money they get in the end.

So, we have got to find other ways of sounding the alarm and traditional media could be that vehicle. But to do so, they`re going to need a hard looking inward of the kind that Dana has so rightly suggested is well overdue.

REID: Absolutely. And that`s going to be a difficult turn, but I`m so glad to have you all on to talk about this. Dana Milbank, thank you for writing that piece and fighting the good fight. Nancy MacLean, thank you, everybody should read your book. Jason Johnson is sticking around.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the Justice Department is stepping up to fight for voting rights, speaking of trying to save country`s democracy, taking Texas to court over just absolutely egregious redistricting map.

Also, the latest from the death cult, today`s talking points include catching COVID is good and cancer apparently is contagious.

Plus, for Republican politicians, more examples of how the term pro-life only applies before birth.

And tonight`s absolute worst is so incredibly insensitive, you actually just have to see it to believe it.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:22:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, the Justice Department has filed suit against the state of Texas for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Texas has violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language minority group.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The Department of Justice is suing the state of Texas over redistricting maps that they say, as you just heard, explicitly discriminate against Latino and black voters.

Despite minorities making up 95 percent of the state`s population growth, the suit notes that Texas designed its two new congressional seats to have Anglo voting majorities. The suit also asserts that Texas intentionally eliminated a Latino electoral opportunity in West Texas and failed to draw and encompassing -- a seat encompassing the growing Latino electorate in Harris County, which includes Houston.

But the situation in Dallas might be the easiest to visualize, where, as the DOJ put it, Texas surgically excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex by attaching them to the heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than 100 miles away. I mean, does this look like a fairly drawn map to you?

This comes at a time when Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure that Democrats cannot win more elections. In Ohio, lawmakers are hiring lawyers to defend their maps who worked with a North -- their maps - - who worked with a North Carolina -- who worked with the North Carolinian on what a court called one of the largest racial gerrymandering ever encountered.

And in Wisconsin, a group tied to Donald Trump is trying to figure out how to bypass the Senate -- the state`s Democratic governor and how to change how elections are run.

I`m joined now by LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. And Jason Johnson is back with me.

And, LaTosha, it`s so blatant now. Now, without -- with the Voting Rights Act, essentially on death`s door, Republicans are doing this openly. You`re in the position now of registering and trying to encourage black folks and folks to vote. Black Voters Matter is out there doing that.

How does this change the context? Because if they`re just going to steal the elections, how do we even encourage people to sign up and be a part of the process at all?

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: I think that`s an excellent question.

I think that`s why we have to do more, that, yes, while we`re going to organize, we have been very clear from the beginning with this administration and with Congress that we can`t outorganize what`s happening to us right now, right, and that it is going to take federal legislation.

We`re going to have to put pressure on federal legislation. I think it`s quite ironic that the president is hosting a democracy summit with world leaders, yet, right in his own backyard, what we`re seeing is, we`re seeing efforts to actually undermine and marginalize black voters and brown voters all across this country.

So, if we want to talk about democracy, as my grandmother used to say, charity begins at home.

REID: Yes, I mean, just look at this Texas redistricting plan.

White voters account for 40 percent of the population, but they get 60 percent of the districts. Hispanic voters are 39 percent of the population. They only get 18 percent. Black voters are 12 percent. They get none of the new districts.

[19:25:00]

I mean, Jason, it`s not subtle.

JOHNSON: No, no, it`s not subtle.

And, I mean, these districts they make look like a Dexter blood spatter. They`re just pieces here and there that are just convenient for whatever the Republicans want.

And the concern is -- and LaTosha sort of points this out, being in Georgia and part of the South -- the concern is, even if you can organize, the legislation that is being passed on a lot of these states has basically said the state can step in and throw out whatever the results are if they don`t like them.

REID: Exactly.

JOHNSON: This is an emergency.

And I know this is something that hasn`t been done in 50 or 60 years, but you know what happened when the federal government said, hey, Brown vs. Board of Education, we have got to integrate schools? They sent troops. They sent federal officials to places and said, you will let black children into the school.

This administration can say, we have concerns about how elections are being conducted in this particular state. We`re going to send officials down there. We`re going to send election observers. If we think that people`s civil rights are being violated, we will do a federal takeover.

I know lots of people are going to scream about this. The right-wingers are going to scream. This is what the federal government is supposed to do. If states are violating people`s civil rights, you`re supposed to step in.

And we know perfectly well that the courts alone are not going to be good enough for this, because by the time this gets up to the handmaiden and all those other people hiding in the Supreme Court, they`re going to say that what Texas is doing is fine.

So in order for this government, for the Biden administration to save next year`s elections, they`re going to have to get aggressive and they`re going to have to get creative about protecting people`s rights.

And let`s be clear. Just because you pass legislation doesn`t guarantee Democrats win. Look what happened in Virginia.

REID: Right.

JOHNSON: But it does guarantee that people have a right to vote. And that`s something everybody should be allowed to do regardless of party.

REID: Well, maybe they better go back and get Eric Holder, because I`m not sure Merrick the mild is going to do any of those things that you just mentioned.

Let me listen -- because a lot of this is also personal in Georgia.

You`re in Georgia, LaTosha. So let me play David Perdue. So, David Perdue is fresh off of the controversies about whether he tried to enrich himself off of COVID. And he`s running again. He now wants to run for governor. And he wants to run against Brian Kemp, who Trump is mad at for not fixing the election for him after the fact.

Here he is making it very personal about why he`s running.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID PERDUE, (R), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: To fight back, we simply have to be united. Unfortunately, today, we`re divided.

And Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame. Look, I like Brian. This isn`t personal. It`s simple. He has failed all of us and cannot win in November.

Think about how different it would be today if Kemp had fought Abrams first, instead of fighting Trump.

I`m David Perdue. I`m running for governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is never governor of Georgia.

Make no mistake. Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to transform Georgia into her radical vision of a state that would look more like California or New York.

Let me be very clear. Over my dead body will we ever give Stacey Abrams control of our elections again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK. That`s -- the first one was him attacking Brad Raffensperger and Brian Kemp.

But, I mean, LaTosha, that is very personal. But it is clear that it isn`t just David Perdue. Fulton County, Georgia, is what they`re talking about. They are a way that Fulton County delivered two Democratic senators for the Democrats.

And if Stacey Abrams manages to get through all the hoops and let`s say win the popular vote in Georgia, it isn`t just David Perdue. It`s the current people who could simply reverse the election in Fulton County and hand it over to that guy. Your thoughts?

BROWN: Absolutely.

That`s part of the reason why we were fighting SB-202. Right now, I have actually less voting protection in the state of Georgia than I did a year ago, right? And so, when we`re looking, they`re doing that already. When we`re looking at David Perdue, I was looking at commercial, and it`s really amazing how they have just mastered lying, that the fact of the matter that you start off with unifying, while but I`m going to take on the incumbent government.

That`s a lot of unity right there, right? And so I think what we`re seeing is, the Republican Party is imploding. The Republican Party is imploding in Georgia. I do think that it is going to be an uphill battle, because they have weaponized the administrative process.

But I do want to remind people, since 2018, the Democrats have actually captured two congressional seats, two Senate seats, three state Senate seats, and 12 -- 12 House of Representatives seats.

I`m saying that to the extent that the state is becoming more diverse and actually more progressive. And I don`t know whether he`s planning his funeral or not, but I guess he needs to get ready to figure out how he`s going to do this over his dead body.

REID: Yes, I mean, the thing is, Georgia already looks like California and New York. Hollywood is in Atlanta. They`re shooting more movies in Atlanta than they might be shooting in New York and California.

When he`s saying look like California and New York, he doesn`t mean he doesn`t want that money, Jason. He means the people of color, that -- it`s a pretty open dog whistle, because what else do you mean by look New York and California?

Your thoughts?

JOHNSON: I mean, at this point, it`s a Klaxon.

Here`s the thing. It`s actually a really terrible commercial, because, if you`re trying to triangulate, it`s like: I don`t like Brian Kemp. I`m going to stop Stacey Abrams.

[19:30:02]

You`re talking about a smaller slice of the population. One thing -- and LaTosha knows this very -- we all know this very well.

Metro Atlanta has been growing at like 1, 500 people every two weeks for like three years now. People coming to that state like Stacey Abrams. She has remained one of the most popular politician in America by being dedicated to her state, never being a sore loser, and being focused on something crazy and generally politically neutral, like allowing people to have access to the vote.

Perdue is an absolute idiot if he thinks that running his entire campaign on hating Stacey Abrams is going to win it for him. I`m sorry. I hate to break it to you, but somebody who just moved to metro Atlanta from Cleveland, Ohio, they don`t hate Stacey Abrams. That`s not going to motivate them.

When you see that kind of campaigning, it shows you not only that the Republican Party is bankrupt, but they pretty much think the only way they can win is by stoking racial fears and cheating, because that ain`t policy. That`s a personal diss track. And it didn`t make any sense.

REID: You know, and, LaTosha, I mean, the work that you have done, the work that Stacey has done, the work that Fair Fight and your organization`s, I mean, Georgia is very -- is very registered.

That is not -- that wasn`t the case when Stacey Abrams ran the first time. But can you talk to -- you spoke a little bit about the president. But the Biden administration told you all and has been very mild about the threat here, because I think they`re assuming that Stacey Abrams` popularity, that the things that Jason just said about people liking her is enough, and that you`re -- and that you`re going to go out there and fix this, that your organization will fix this at the ballot box, that they don`t have to do anything about it in terms of the law.

BROWN: You know, there`s a challenge. If I were to think about sports, who wants to play a sports game when the referees are already going to go cheat, right?

The bottom line is, the people who are in charge of the process have already openly said that they want to cheat, right? You had the cheater in cheat saying that, why aren`t you cheating in Georgia? And then what you saw right after that is, you saw legislation that actually legalized what it is that he was asking for.

And so I think it`s really important. I agree that I think, when we`re looking at the Biden administration right now, we`re talking about -- it`s not like the Democrats don`t have a tool, right?

REID: Right.

BROWN: This attachment to the filibuster is creating harm all across this country, not just for black voters. But it actually is a part of supporting I think what you -- when you talk about political corruption, that any time people are punished because of who they voted for or how they voted, that, in itself, is the definition of corruption.

So, if we`re talking about preserving democracy or any element of democracy in this country, we should be responding, right, when we`re looking at the drawing of maps, not just in Texas, but in Georgia, where the Republicans have drawn the maps in such a way that they have an advantage, although 100 percent of all the population growth in the state of people of Georgia have been people of color.

REID: Yes.

I mean, listen, DOJ has got to do more than have a mild press conference. There has got to be some action. Joe Madison is literally still on a hunger strike. He`s 72 years old. He should not have to be on a hunger strike in 2021 in America.

LaTosha Brown, Jason Johnson, thank you both very much.

Still up on THE REIDOUT: New York City launches what it calls a preemptive strike against a winter resurgence of COVID with its most far-reaching vaccine mandates yet, this as the Republican death cult doubles down on spreading dangerous vaccine misinformation.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:25]

REID: The Republican Party`s culture of death is thriving, with accused sex trafficker Matt Gaetz -- he denies it, but wonder where that investigation stands? -- going all in on embracing his own COVID alternative reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Still, the best vaccine we found is Mother Nature`s vaccine. It`s contracting the virus.

That is what has provided the greatest protection, the most durable protection over the longest period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Gaetz double down on those Beavisy comments, tweeting today that it`s the strongest immunity on Earth. Evidently, Mother Nature cannot prevent stupid, since Margie Q. Greene is spreading her own nonsense, staying saying that we never closed schools because of cancer, as though cancer is somehow contagious.

Meanwhile, following up on Governor Ron DeSantis` quest for herd immunity, the Florida Department of Health is working on a rule allowing workers to opt out of private employers` vaccine requirements, while New York City`s major -- New York City`s mayor announced today that all private sector employees will be subject to the city`s vaccine mandate.

The Delta variant remains the biggest threat in the United States while public health officials monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, with cases now confirmed in 18 states.

Joining me now is Dr. Bernard Ashby, Miami vascular cardiologist and the Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care.

Dr. Ashby, my friend, I appreciate you being here.

We have talked about this before offline, because there are people, even people I know, who insist that the only immunity you need is getting COVID. Like, if you just get COVID, you will be fine.

Please explain. Is that true?

(LAUGHTER)

DR. BERNARD ASHBY, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: So, good evening, Joy. And what`s going on?

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBY: So, basically, we need to understand that this pandemic is unprecedented.

This is the first time in our lifetime that we have ever dealt with anything like this. So, this is a once-in-a-generation event. And information is coming in quickly.

Now what we`re seeing is that we have multiple variants that have come out and are now circulating, Omicron being the latest chapter in this book. And natural immunity by itself is not enough.

So, when you think about your protection against the Omicron variant -- sorry -- the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS Corona-2 virus, you have to think about it in terms of, how do you shield yourself from severe disease or dying?

And we know that not only is vaccination our most effective tool at preventing people from dying, but what we don`t talk about enough is that if you have been infected with the virus, and you have gotten vaccine, you have something called hybrid immunity, which gives you even more protection, particularly against the circulating variants.

[19:40:06]

And, eventually, we will all have hybrid immunity, meaning that we will get it -- we will get exposed to the virus at some point in our lifetime, because this isn`t going anywhere. It`s going to be here for the rest of our lives.

REID: And if we don`t get a sufficient number of people vaccinated, I mean, I sort of liken it to like a football game where, like, you only have half the offensive line and half the defensive line.

So, instead of all 11 guys on each of those of those sides, you have like six, and you`re doing it with, like, not a full team on offense or defense, right? It`s like, if we don`t get enough people vaccinated, aren`t we just going to keep on going until we get to the Omega variant?

ASHBY: That is correct.

And a little known fact is that, once we run out of Greek letters, the plan is actually going to galaxies and stars, so pretty cool.

But, anyways, aside from that, yes, variants are an issue. But we can`t even talk about the issue of variants in the U.S. context. I mean, with worldwide vaccine inequities, it`s clear that variants are going to be here to stay. I mean, Africa is pretty much getting boxed out of the vaccines.

REID: Yes.

ASHBY: And it`s all the result of greed. I mean, let`s just be clear, really to the point where it`s actually hurting us Americans. And it`s pretty sickening.

But speaking of sickening, we have to talk about our governor of Florida, Florida man, right, and his puppet surgeon general, Dr. Ladapo.

The Omicron variant was discovered November 24. And we have yet to hear a word from Dr. Ladapo or the Florida Department of Health about this Omicron variant. And it`s unfortunate because we predicted this, right? I mean, everyone could tell that he was a puppet. And, lo and behold, he`s a puppet.

And, again, there`s a lot of information going around about Omicron variant, but it`s literally his job as Florida general to communicate with the public to clear up a lot of the misinformation, disinformation and conflicting information.

But he hasn`t said a word. And that`s a dereliction of his duties as surgeon general. And we as physicians have zero guidance from the Florida Department of Health at this particular point.

REID: Well, because it seems to me that it`s pretty obvious that he wants to do natural herd immunity. That`s what it seems like.

I mean, is -- do you have any evidence to the contrary, that he`s -- is he trying to run a natural herd immunity experiment in the state of Florida?

ASHBY: Well, actions speak louder than words.

And as you may or may not know, Dr. Ladapo is a member of the Frontline Doctors, right?

REID: Yes.

ASHBY: And that is a very suspect group who`s been advocating treatment options and saying things about the pandemic that are just completely ludicrous, and not based on the science...

REID: Yes.

ASHBY: ... and a few of them actually losing their license as a result of it.

So, we just have to basically read the tea leaves or look at his actions.

REID: Yes.

ASHBY: And it`s pretty clear that that`s what (INAUDIBLE) herd immunity.

REID: See what they`re -- see what we are seeing.

Dr. Bernard Ashby, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate you.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.

But first: Mississippi`s anti-abortion governor, Tate Reeves, is very concerned about unborn children in his state -- once they`re born, however, not so much.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:47:23]

REID: The anti-choice crusade to control the wombs of women and girls made its way to the Sunday shows this weekend, featuring Republican men whose bodies don`t have wombs and who therefore cannot get pregnant and will never have to face the traumas of an unwanted pregnancy or the risk of serious illness, injury or even death due to complications, of which there are many.

Bodily harm and death will certainly increase if safe and legal abortions go away, something the anti-choice party showed cruel indifference to on live TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): If you believe, as I believe very strongly, that innocent unborn child in the mother`s womb is, in fact, a child, the most important word when we talk about unborn children is not unborn, but it`s children.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, do you acknowledge that this step will result in some women and almost -- almost certainly getting seriously hurt, some even dying?

REEVES: Well, I certainly would hope that that would not be the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Well, we certainly would hope.

Joining me now is Jennifer Rubin, columnist for "The Washington Post."

And, Jennifer, you write about that incident and some of the other interviews we saw this weekend a post that everyone should read, your op-ed entitled: "Republicans Don`t Disguise Their Indifference to Human Life."

And in that same interview, Jake Tapper pointed out to Governor Reeves some of the statistics about Mississippi, which is basically the most dangerous place to be pregnant in America, highest infant mortality rate. One in four children in Mississippi face hunger, ranked 50th out of 50 states, lowest in the U.S., for child well-being there, in terms of economic well-being health, family and community in education; 28 percent of their kids there live in poverty vs. 17 percent in the U.S.

He could not answer the question of, do they care about children once they`re born? You argue they do not.

JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They really don`t. They show no evidence.

He also opposes, for example, Medicaid extension that goes to help the poor and help addicts. He also, of course, comes in, exactly as the chart showed, very low in the infant and the maternal mortality.

You`re 75 times more likely to die of pregnancy in the state of Mississippi than you are from a pre-viability abortion. So, basically, he is saying, because he considers, because he believes, as part of his religious doctrine, that the unborn are, in his, words children -- that`s his religious belief -- that women should be put at risk and should be forced, compelled to have a child to term, even if they`re raped, even if it`s the result of incest, and must be forced to give birth.

[19:50:00]

This would be -- imagine a man who was dragooned off the street and told, you`re an organ match for this wonderful person over here. And we`re going to have you donate a kidney.

The person says, but I -- you can`t take my kidney. And they say, oh, yes, it`s for a very good reason. We`re going to take your kidney. You don`t have any right to bodily integrity. You don`t have any right to self- determination.

That`s the attitude that they have taken towards women. As you say, they seem to impose a burden on women that they would never impose upon themselves, that they would never dream off.

And the result of this is that you have this complete incongruency between all these steps they are willing to do to women for an unborn child, but for -- as soon as you`re born, you`re on your own in that state.

REID: They don`t care.

RUBIN: And, frankly, women are their own throughout pregnancy. And in childbirth, they`re on their own.

So spare me the talk about being pro-life. These are the same people, of course, who would not inconvenience themselves by putting on a mask that would save people.

REID: Right.

RUBIN: Nor would they have background checks on guns that could arguably save people.

So, their definition of pro-life is very peculiar, not one that I`m familiar with.

REID: Yes.

RUBIN: And I think it`s incumbent upon Democrats to start having this debate, because Republicans are really ill-prepared to have it.

And their answers are quite stunning, are quite shocking, as we saw on the Sunday shows. Democrats should not shy away from this fight.

REID: No, 100 percent. It was very humina, humina, humina, Mike Braun as well.

But let`s do one more of Tate Reeves. This is him trying to somehow try to weasel his way out of the comparison of why vaccine mandates are too much of a -- too much of an intrusion, but making a woman carry a pregnancy to term is not. Here`s Tate Reeves again.

Oh, let me just read it. This is not from a Sunday show. Sorry. This is the governor. He deflected -- this is the description of what happened. He deflected questions about how he squares his desire to restrict abortion with his calls for personal freedom in opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

He says: "The difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself," Reeves said. "Abortions actually go in and kill other American babies."

Your thoughts.

RUBIN: Again, this is the worst kind of invasive control of women.

He`s entitled to whatever religious view he wants of the born or the unborn. But the fact that he would never mandate vaccines on anyone because it`s their body, their choice, but he would subject women to one of the most grueling fiscal ordeals is just sheer hypocrisy.

And you referenced Senator Braun. When he was asked, well, isn`t there a weird equivalence between your aversion to mask mandates and to -- and your stance on abortion, he said, well, don`t bother me with that equivalence. That`s just going to inflame us. That`s just going to divide us. We should just agree with Senator Braun and be done with it.

So these people seem not to have any practice in making a cogent argument for their position. And I think we`re going to see just a sea change in American law and I think a tsunami of reaction when this actually goes into force.

REID: Yes.

And I think Democrats, as you said, should not be shy about pushing back, because, when you make them answer it, they actually don`t have an answer. They cannot explain the inconsistencies and incoherencies in their positions. They really cannot.

Jennifer Rubin, thank you for writing that column. And thank you for being here tonight.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is next. You do not want to miss it.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:59]

REID: On Saturday, Madisyn Baldwin was laid to rest. She was one of the four students murdered last week at Michigan`s Oxford High School.

Flags were lowered to half-staff throughout that community, as a steady stream of visitors came to support the family and pay their final respects.

That same day, Jeanine Pirro was placing all the blame for the murders on - - wait for it -- liberal educators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS: Then there`s Oxford, Michigan, with Ethan Crumbley, who shot and killed four students and injured seven others, including a teacher, for no reason, because liberal school personnel should have known Crumbley had a gun or at least had access to one, but never bothered to ask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Oh, yes, that`s right. Former judge and current Trump sycophant is blaming liberals, not the shooters` parents, who gave their troubled child access to a deadly firearm.

It`s an open question if or perhaps when conservatives will ever utter a word of criticism against the Crumbleys, the parents of the Michigan school shooter, given their open embrace of people like George Zimmerman, who shot a teenager and got acquitted for it, Missouri losers Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who waved guns at Black Lives Matter passersby, and teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, also acquitted of shooting and killing people, because people who wave guns and shoot people seem to be their chosen heroes.

Tomorrow, Tate Myre will also be laid to rest.

But that didn`t stop Republican Congressman Thomas Massie from posting this image on his Twitter page, a family portrait with everyone holding a firearm. A number of those guns are AR-15s. Variations of that weapon have been used to kill people at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, a Pittsburgh synagogue, a Texas church, a Las Vegas concert, at Parkland High School, and at Sandy Hook Elementary.

So it`s been nearly a week since the shootings at Oxford High School. And that is what a member of Congress thinks passes for a thoughtful holiday greeting. I mean, who cares about the pain and anguish of those poor families that they`re feeling as they`re still burying their children? Who cares? It`s all about the love of guns and the display of them like jewelry.

So, tonight, Representative Massie and Judge Pirro, with your poor taste and poor judgment, both of you, both of you are tonight`s "Absolute, Absolute Worst."

Have some compassion, for a change. Happy holidays.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.