Power being restored in Texas after deadly storm. 7 million under
boil water orders in wake of deadly storm. Biden asking FEMA to accelerate
major disaster assistance. Texas demand answers after widespread power
outages. Cruz Apologizes for ditching state during crisis. Texans and non-
Texans working to provide assistance.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight
with some good news for Texans. ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of
Texas, the entity that`s responsible for managing the flow of electrical
power to most of the Lone Star State announced this morning that it has
finally ended emergency conditions, allowing the restoration of power to
freezing Texas homes for the first time since Monday. That`s the good news.
But life is still far from normal. At least 20 people have died as a result
of the storm. An 11-year-old boy died in an unheated Texas mobile home.
Authorities suspect hypothermia. Three children and their grandmother died
in a house fire. Officials believe the family`s efforts to stay warm may
have caused the fire. And college students are describing a frozen
hellscape, with dwindling food, flooded halls and unflushable toilets.
7 million people, a quarter of the state population, are now having to boil
their tap water before drinking it because low water pressure may have
allowed bacteria to seep into the system. In Houston, cars lined up for
blocks at a water distribution site so that folks could get clean water.
Governor Abbott, who has yet to reach out to some of his own state`s mayors
was one of roughly 20 Texas officials who President Biden reached out to.
It`s a departure from his predecessor who would wield federal assistance
like a weapon against governors who didn`t take the need.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we talk -- I talked to the
federal emergency management agency, FEMA, the administrator. This
afternoon, I` m going to ask him to accelerate our response and request
for, quote, it`s a different declaration, a major disaster declaration so
that we can get everything done that we need as possible.
When any state, as I said when I ran, I` m going to be a president for all
of America, all, no red or blue. It`s all about commitment to the American
people I make to one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: This past week has left many Texans frankly shell shocked, angry, and
looking for accountability. But no one seems to be taking any
responsibility even after they were warned. Governor Abbott, who was
already under fire for his poor handling of the pandemic, is blaming the
grid operators and the very much not in effect Green New Deal, which, I
will remind you, is still a proposal. It hasn`t been enacted. The grid
operators are blaming the state government.
And then there is Ted Cancun Cruz who doesn`t seem to care either way given
that he planned a weekend vacay get away to Mexico with his family to warm
up and maybe hit the pool bar. The man with a giant overnight bag continued
his apology tour on local news outlet and on Sean Hannity`s show, where he
got a much warmer reception.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Last night, I flew down with them to the beach and
then I flew back this afternoon. I had initially planned to stay through
the weekend and to work remotely. But as I was heading down there, you
know, I started to have second thoughts almost immediately because the
crisis here in Texas, you need to be here on the ground, as much as you can
do by phone and Zoom, it`s not the same as being here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: While the Cruz family vacation was laughably ridiculous and painfully
insulting, frankly, it was yet another reminder of just how craven
Republican free market governance really is, a governing style that puts a
premium on selfishness, deregulation and greed, unfettered, gluttonous
If this week didn`t make that crystal clear, then just take a look at Jerry
Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, whose company made a
huge profit after the storm sent natural gas prices surging. Who knew he
was in that business?
As Texas Republicans were turning on each other, like The Red Wedding in
Game of Thrones, others stepped in to fill the void. Former El Paso
Congressman Beto O`Rourke rallied together an army of volunteers to make
nearly 800,000 calls to senior citizens across Texas to make sure they had
food, water and shelter.
Then there`s New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a favorite
target of Republicans in Texas and out, who`s heading to Houston after
raising $2 million to help people in that state.
And then there`s Houston native Beyonce Knowles who`s working with her
charity foundation to help provide grants for those affected by the winter
All of these folks are doing more to help Texans than the people who Texas
taxpayers are paying to do so.
I` m now joined by former El Paso Congressman Beto O`Rourke.
And I have to start by asking how things are. We know that there has been
that better news that I just mentioned out of ERCOT, but on the ground, how
are things still looking in Texas?
FORMER REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX): It`s still really tough for a lot of
people, unfortunately. You mentioned at the top of your show, we have more
than 7 million Texans under a boil water notice right now in communities
like San Antonio and Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America,
there`s not enough water pressure in any of the neighborhoods to get
anything out of the tap.
And as that`s happening, supplies of water, and even food are dwindling
because we have had logistical and transportation challenges due to the ice
and snow, and the cold weather and the lack of electricity for much of the
week. So it`s really, really still bad, and we are not out of the woods
We are grateful that most residential electricity is back online, but there
are a lot of people who need a lot of help right now. And I` m so grateful
to President Biden and to his administration for seeking that major
disaster declaration. That`s the kind of help that we need right now in
Texas and for all of the folks at a neighborhood level who are checking on
their neighbors to make sure they`re okay, those who don`t have
transportation or access, helping them out, and all of these volunteers who
have been joining us on these wellness check-in calls over the last couple
of days, it`s really been a lifeline for many of our fellow Texans.
REID: You know, and, of course, whenever these disasters strike, it hits
people who are the have-nots the most. It hits people of color the hardest.
Just to zero in just for a moment, the state government has seemed to be
completely absent. It`s amazing. I was watching the Houston Mayor on
Stephanie Ruhle`s show this morning who said that he hadn`t even talked to
the governor at that point.
Are there resources that are being fanned out to make sure the communities
of color, black and Latino communities, Asian-American communities,
communities that are impoverished in general are getting more help?
O`ROURKE: I don`t see that from our state government. I do see it from
local leaders. You mentioned Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, Texas.
The county judge there, Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Rodney Ellis, one of
the County Commissioners. In North Texas, Clay Jenkins, K.P. George in Fort
Bend, Andy Brown in Travis County. The local leaders really where
government meets the road is where the accountability is. That`s where the
action happens to be as well. And I think that`s one of the bright spots in
a really tough week, and in the absence of statewide leadership, in the
absence of leadership from our U.S. senators, one of whom went to another
country in the midst of this crisis.
So in the toughest of times, the best comes out of every day Texans and we
are seeing that across the board. But I`ll tell you in these wellness
checks, the phone calls that we`re making, we talked to a gentleman in
Kaleen, Texas, had not eaten for two days, could not get out of his home,
we called a warming center. They provided transportation that got him there
so that he can get warm, could also get a warm meal.
I talked to a gentleman last night, he had a stroke after Thanksgiving, was
running out of water and food in his home, and was too embarrassed to reach
out and ask for help. Thankfully, we reached out to him and we`re
connecting him with services now. But this is really a case by case,
neighborhood by neighborhood effort and mission that we`re all on in Texas
right now, and we still need that help.
So for everyone around the country who`s wondering whether there`s more
that can be done, yes, when you contribute to food banks, to shelters, to
grassroots organizations that are helping on the ground, that makes a world
of different for us here in Texas, and we are so grateful to all of you.
REID: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, you mentioned the junior senator. The
excuses that are being made for him, and I don`t want to spend a whole lot
of time talking to you about him, but you did run against him for that job
as the United States senator. In theory, you could have been in that
position. People who are backing him up and making excuses for him are
saying, well, could a senator possibly do, and sort of saying, well, there
would be no point for him to be there, he`s just eating extra food other
people could get if he was gone. What do you make of that excuse? His
excuse also was he was just trying to do what`s best for his family?
O`ROURKE: I think what you have is people who are in government who don`t
believe in government at a time that we all need government to work. And in
Ted Cruz, you have someone who actually tried to overthrow the government
and overturn a lawfully, legitimately, democratically decided election.
There`s got to be consequence and accountability for that as well.
I think what most of my fellow Texans have come to realize is we just
cannot count on those in power, especially when we literally do not have
power in our homes. We have to turn to one another, to our local leaders
and we`ve got to organize around future elections to make sure that we have
people in positions of public trust who deliver for us and make sure that
we`re okay, especially in these darkest, most dire hours, as we are seeing
right now, in Texas.
REID: You know, and it`s interesting because you mentioned, right, you
have, you know, one senator who was focused on overturning the democratic
election, you have a state government that has been just in a mania of
deregulation, going all the way back to the 1990s.
You know, El Paso got through this better because it was part of the
western grid rather than not being in the, you know, the state run sort of
sui generis grid. I know it`s a bit too early. There`s still a crisis
that`s happening ongoing. Do you anticipate that your state will rethink
that model, that maybe regulation ain`t such a bad thing after this? Do you
see that there might be an appetite to sort of reintroduce government after
this is all over?
O`ROURKE: No, it`s not too early. Joy, this is the perfect time, in fact,
because we had a weather event not unlike this one in 2011. Lots of
promises made about weatherizing power generators, improving the
reliability of the grid, and look where we are today.
So I think we need to have a mandate to weatherize all power generation
across Texas. We need to incentivize additional capacity for storms and
natural disasters like these that because of climate change are only going
to become more frequent, more severe and unfortunately nor deadly. And
then, yes, we need to connect Texas to the national grid to sell excess
power when we`re generating it and drive those profits back into improving
the infrastructure, and then in desperate moments like these where we need
to draw down power, there needs to be a gateway for that to come through.
So I think those are very common sense, really non-partisan solutions that
people much smarter than I am have come up with. Let`s get that
implemented. And in the meantime, let`s make sure people who are without
water, without heat, without electricity, without food, get the help they
need. That has to be priority number one for Texas.
REID: Absolutely. Beto O`Rourke, who`s doing more as a civilian than the
leadership of his state or the two senators from the state are doing. Can
you please jus tweet out, on the places where people can help out, Texas if
they want, if you tweet that out and I`ll re-tweet it and we`ll make sure
our show re-tweets it out as well. Beto, thank you so much, we really
And up next on THE REIDOUT, the doctor, I`m so excited about this, is in.
Dr. Anthony Fauci finally joins me on THE REIDOUT. I have so many questions
on the vaccine roll out and more.
Plus, a big announcement about a REIDOUT special event next week that Dr.
Fauci will be taking part in.
Plus, Ted Cruz is having a very bad year. First, there was the whole
inciting and insurrection thing, followed yesterday by his airport walk of
shame. But as bad as Cruz is, and he is terrible, he`s not the absolute
worst, believe it or not. That reveal is coming up.
And the great producer, director, Lee Daniels is here. His new film The
United States Versus Billy Holiday about one of our greatest musical
artists, persecution at the hands of the FBI is getting major buzz.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: Today, President Joe Biden traveled to a Michigan Pfizer facility
where we saw the first COVID vaccine shipped out two months ago. The
president declared that the country is on track to have enough doses for
everyone American by the end of July. And he delivered a plea to those who
still are hesitant about getting advantages vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We all know there`s a history in this country of having subjected
certain communities to terrible medical abuses in the past. But if there`s
one message to cut through to everyone in this country is this, the
vaccines are safe. Please, for yourself, your family, your community, this
country, take the vaccine when it`s your turn and available. That`s how to
beat this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: While the U.S. has now surpassed 28 million cases and nearly an
unthinkable half million deaths, we have seen a five-week decline in new
cases. More Americans are getting vaccinated but the winter storms have
wreaked havoc on shipping hubs, impacting vaccination efforts across the
country. Thousands of appointments are being rescheduled as states wait for
more supply. And this all comes as new variants of the virus are spreading,
raising concern that we could soon see a new spike in cases.
And joining me now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious diseases and Chief Medical Adviser to President
Biden. I have been really coveting this interview, Dr. Fauci, it`s good to
see you. I have not seen you since the World AIDS Day conference like two
or three years ago. It was during the previous administration. I will say
you look younger. I` m not sure why.
But let`s start by talking about this number. Whenever I have to report the
number of people who have died, Dr. Fauci, it just, it sticks in my jaw.
It`s painful to say the number. And we`re going to hit 500,000 really soon,
and you did, you know -- I always have wanted to ask you this, this is the
only question I` m going to ask you about the previous administration. Did
you ever feel at this point, as you saw that number ticking up that maybe
today is the day I walk out and I resign, and I do a press conference and I
say everything I know and maybe that will change things?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: You know, Joy, I never really considered resigning because I felt
if I did, I would really leave a vacuum of somebody who, as you know, I
would always tell the truth, I would always be talking about with space on
data, and I was afraid that if I just did this symbolic walking out, you
know, it would be gratifying for a moment, but then I would not be able to
have the perch that I would have on the task force to make sure that we
talk about truth and about science and about evidence, and not about an
anecdote. So the answer to your question is I never seriously considered
walking out of that at all.
REID: Yes. Well, I` m glad you didn`t. I think a lot of people are glad
that you stayed, because you are the trusted voice. I know my godmother
pretty much listens to you. And she trusts Dr. Kizzy, the -- created the
But I want to talk a little bit about whether or not people are willing to
But I want to start with the equities issue, because, on vaccinations --
now we have a cold snap that`s hitting Texas. We have all of these sort of
difficulties in getting the vaccine out. But even when we didn`t have that,
I want to put up a chart that shows who`s getting vaccinated.
White Americans make up 63.7 percent of those who`ve been able -- who`ve
been vaccinated so far. Now, this is only a little over half of those
vaccinated who were accounted for. African-Americans, who make up almost 14
percent of the population, about 14 percent, are only 6.3 percent, Latinos,
who are 15 percent of the population, 8.8 percent.
Asian Americans are very -- a little closer to scale. What can we do about
that? Because I have heard all of these anecdotes about, when you open
these federal sites up, these big sites open up, wealthy folks drive to the
sites. They will drive across town to make sure that they get it first and
crowd out local communities.
The tragic part of those data, Joy, that really is terrible is that it`s
the minority population, the brown and black people, who are the ones that
suffer most from the disease that you`re trying to prevent by the vaccine,
that they`re getting a double whammy against them.
Not only do they have the propensity, because of their jobs out in the
community, to get infected. They have the underlying conditions that make
them more likely to get a serious outcome.
Now, when we have vaccinations available, that the proportions that you
show are very disturbing. There are two major reasons for that. One is a
bit of understandable vaccine hesitancy. But you don`t want to hide behind
that. It`s that we have got to really extend ourselves into the community
to get the access to minority populations that they don`t have.
And what President Biden has been doing since the day he walked in to the
office, and that is getting community vaccine centers up in areas that are
also highly populated by minorities, getting vaccine doses into pharmacies,
including in areas that serve minority populations, and, finally, going out
there and doing mobile units to get to the not-easily-accessible areas.
That`s what we do to extend ourselves out there. What we have been trying
to do -- and I take this very seriously -- is extend yourself to the
African-American and Latinx population, and explain to them that we totally
respect why you`re being hesitant.
The history of how the government has treated minority populations decades
and decades ago is shameful. It can never happen again. But that history
gets passed down. And you have got to say, I respect your concern, but
these are the two or three reasons why you really need to get vaccinated,
for your own health, for the health of your community, and literally for
the entire nation.
REID: Yes, my godmother watches this show. And you are probably the only
person who could talk her into getting it. So, I appreciate you doing that
even, specifically for the godmother.
But let`s talk now about these variants. The variants are very scary. The
idea that you have the South African variant, these variants that are
coming from Europe, that makes it even more frightening.
We`re talking about opening schools with that out there. Does the variant
being out there make you more hesitant about the idea of opening schools?
FAUCI: No. The answer is no. And I will tell you why, Joy.
First of all, we all need to abide by the public health measures that I
talk about 25 times a day all the time, the universal wearing of masks, the
physical distancing, the avoiding congregate settings, the washing of
hands, things like that.
But you have to break the variants down into two groups. The variant that`s
referred to as 117 is the one that was dominant in the United Kingdom. And
that`s one that has the capability of spreading more efficiently from
person to person. And it is even more virulent, in that it can make you
more sick. That`s the sobering news.
The encouraging news is that the vaccines that we have now that we`re
administering work really well against that variant. So, since that`s the
one that looks like it`s gaining momentum in our own country, and the
models predict that, by the end of March, it might be the dominant one,
that`s all the more reason to go ahead...
FAUCI: ... and when vaccine becomes available, for goodness` sakes, get
The South African variant is a bit more problematic, because that`s the one
that is now dominant in South Africa. It is in our country. It`s not
dominant. It`s still at a low level.
But the efficacy of the vaccine and the monoclonal antibodies against that
is down about fivefold. We still have enough capability of the antibodies
that are induced by a vaccine to give you some protection, particularly
against severe disease.
But we have to keep our eye out not only on those two variants, but on any
variant that might evolve. And the way you do that, Joy, it`s complicated,
but it`s simple.
FAUCI: It`s, A, you continue to abide by the measures that we talk about,
and, B, get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. That`s
the best protection against this.
REID: Well, Dr. Fauci, I have like 1,000 more questions for you, but I know
I`m going to get another chance to ask them, so I`m going to thank you for
Thank you so much for everything that you`re doing. Really, really
And I want you all to join us next Friday at 7:00 Eastern for our very
special town hall, which Dr. Fauci, members of the Congressional Black
Caucus, and other medical experts are going to be a part of. They will be
discussing racial disparities in America`s COVID crisis.
Go to MSNBC.com/townhall to be a part of our virtual audience, put your
little cute faces up there, and to submit questions for our experts.
And coming up next -- you do not want to miss that. That`s going to be
Coming up next: today`s absolute worst. You don`t want to miss it.
REID: Millions of Texans continue to suffer in freezing temperatures
without power in what officials are calling a failure of the state`s power
It`s a failure by Texas political leadership too.
Enter Senator Ted Cruz, who`s facing a scandal involving his terribly timed
decision to flit off to a resort on the Caribbean Sea, the same Ted Cruz
who voted to overturn election results as a member of the sedition caucus,
and who supported building a wall to keep people who look like him out,
people who cross the border because they want safety and a better life for
And yet he chose to cross the border into Mexico, abandoning his state in a
time of crisis, he says, for his family. Irony!
Look, this man isn`t exactly the most liked member of Congress or possibly
even by his supposed friends, given that someone from his wife`s vacation
group seems to have "The New York Times" on speed dial to leak their
But that nasty reputation he has, oh, there`s a reason for that, his off-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): President Obama and, for that matter, Hillary Clinton
and the Democratic Party, they`re so out of touch with where the American
people are right now.
He goes and plays golf hundreds of times with his buddies. He is not
focused on the people who are hurting, who are paying the cost.
We have got a job to do and we got a short window of time. And so we ought
to stop taking recesses, stop taking time off, and just keep going until we
get it done.
So, apparently, playing a game of pool is a higher priority for this
president than it would be to go and see the humanitarian crisis he`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, this story doesn`t end with flying Ted, because now his fellow
Republicans are using Silly Putty to defend him, even after Cruz himself
admitted he had originally planned on staying in Cancun until Saturday.
Matt "Gas Mask" Gaetz tweeted: "Ted Cruz should not have apologized."
Dinesh D`Souza, really, really reaching here, tweeting: "If Ted Cruz is in
Cancun, that means he`s not using up valuable resources of energy, food and
water that can now be used by someone else. This is probably the best thing
he could do for the state right now."
And then, of course, Sean Hannity making the case that working remotely is
still work, even if your remote workplace is Senor (INAUDIBLE).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You made the right call coming back. You also can
be a father. There`s also something called technology.
We also know what teleworking is, and I think there`s a lot of
sanctimonious politics being played in this attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
But the best -- and by that, I mean the worst -- comes from America`s least
favorite fail son, Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted: "The hypocrisy of those
trying to cancel Ted Cruz, who have been totally silent on their Democrat
governor`s incompetence is telling."
Yes, yes, little Donny, first off, your dad will never love you.
And, second, we are being very, very quiet about the Democratic governor of
Texas. And that`s because there is no Democratic governor of Texas. The
Texas governor is a Republican, man.
But you and your party are so programmed to place the blame on Democrats
that you`re spitting out drivel on a swivel, rather than condemning the
daughter-blamer who fled to sunny Mexico as millions of his constituents
Also, don`t you have chores that you should be doing?
And that is why, today, the Republicans, who clearly will defend, well,
anything their fellow Republicans do, from insurrection to abandonment, are
the absolute worst.
REID: It`s been a bad week for Republican leadership, especially in the
state of Texas, where they have proved they are all hat and no cattle.
As Governor Greg Abbott has abdicated his responsibility, trying to blame
green energy and Democratic policies for his state`s own failure to
regulate its energy market, his predecessor, Rick Perry, says that the
blackouts are an acceptable sacrifice, that Texas residents should be happy
to endure such hardship to be free of federal oversight.
Of course, Perry could have averted this disaster 10 years ago, when he was
governor. But he ignored calls for the state to winterize its energy grid.
Wait a minute. Where have I heard that before?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX): It is three agencies of government when I get
there that are gone, Commerce, Education, and the -- what`s the third one
there? Let`s see.
PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.
PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry.
PERRY: And, by the way, that was the Department of Energy I was reaching
for a while ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Yes, yes, that`s right, the Department of Energy was the infamous
third federal agency that Perry wanted to get rid of back in 2011, when he
was running for president.
So, if Republicans like him had their way, the whole country would have no
energy policy at all. Perfect.
However, the worst Texas Republican this week was the mayor, who thankfully
resigned, after telling his residents to stop complaining as they froze. He
said only lazy people should expect access to heat and water.
It`s not just Texas Republicans who take pride in denying aid and services
to their own constituents. Under fire for giving wealthy neighborhoods
priority access to the COVID vaccine, Florida Governor Rick DeSantis is now
threatening -- get this -- to pull doses if local officials criticize his
Good luck, pours.
Joining me now, Michael Steele, former RNC chair, and Victoria DeFrancesco
Soto, assistant dean of the University -- at the University of Texas LBJ
School of Public Affairs.
Thank you all for being here.
Michael, so you know I got to go to you first on this. You used to run this
party, my brother.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, God.
REID: And I remember a time when Democrats -- when Republicans tried had to
rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. Well, that`s over.
Now it`s just all: Let the poor die. If you don`t like my policies, I`m
going to take your vaccine, so more people can die And you`re whiny if you
don`t like freezing to death.
Yes, there seems to be, I guess, a zero sum approach to governance. That`s
the only way to look at it.
STEELE: I don`t know who these people are. I don`t even know how any mayor
or any governor or anyone in elected responsibility in a dire situation
like this, their response, their go-to is: Get over it.
STEELE: So, look, I`m not going to sit here and try to explain this in any
way, shape, or form.
This is unlike anything I have ever encountered in politics.
I know, as the former lieutenant governor of my state, that if Bob Ehrlich
or myself had, during the crises that we had, when the hurricanes came
through, and when we had the bad winter weather, if our response to the
people of Maryland was, get over it, stop complaining about the cold snap
or all the water in your basement, you don`t survive that.
And that`s why the mayor resigned. That`s why Ted Cruz now is piling all of
this crap on his daughter, of all people. Oh, it`s her fault. Daddy, can we
go away? Sure.
REID: Yes, daughter-blamer.
STEELE: It makes no sense.
REID: You know, well, I mean, Victoria, then -- welcome to the show.
My understanding of government is that, especially at the state level, as
Michael just said, storms, crises really define particularly governors. And
you`re now seeing the governor of Texas try to blame a nonexistent Green
New Deal, which has never been enacted as law, tried to blame Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez, who has nothing to do with Texas, other than raising $2
million for Texas, and doing more than the governor is doing.
I wonder how this style of governance can possibly keep going in a state
like Texas, where they have no federal government to blame. This is all on
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: It is.
And this could have been averted, Joy. We could have kept the power on
during this past week, if we had winterized in 2011, as the recommendations
were made. But the deal is, the power companies were given the option,
winterize or go the cheaper route and don`t winterize.
And, obviously, what are they going to do? But this is going to come back
and bite the Republican Party, not just because of the poor form, but the
complete lack of heart, of empathy, of any human emotion to the suffering
that`s going on, but to the brand that Texas has cultivated over the last
two decades as a business-friendly state, the Texas miracle. This is where
you want to come and relocate your factories and your plants.
But if you`re looking to relocate to Texas, and you see the mess that has
happened in the past week, you`re going to have second thoughts: Am I going
to move to a state where things work most of the time, where there`s kind
of infrastructure to support my business?
So, I think that this is where we`re going to be seeing the fallout over
the short to long term. And I have already been hearing murmurs in terms of
the business community being the one to put the pressure on Republicans,
because, otherwise, they`re not going to move.
REID: It`s a really good point, Michael, because states like Texas, states
like Florida attract a lot of people who come there for the weather.
But if your state is basically a failed state, eventually, you can`t
attract business. I mean, Florida looks like a cruel, not very smart state.
Let`s just put it that way. Their governor is vindictive and sort of
sadistic. I don`t know why anybody would move their business there, because
that means your employees have to be there. Nobody wants that.
And over time, tourism is going to suffer. So it does eventually start to
I think of this as sort of performative government -- performative
government, Michael, where you have, like, Ted Cruz performs insurrection
because he`s doing a performance, not -- this isn`t about governing. And
then he does this thing where he doesn`t -- he runs off to Mexico, but
instead of performing strength and saying, I went and so what, he then is
So, now it looks like he`s on the losing end of it.
Let me show you Lauren Boebert. Do you want to talk about performative
government. Look at her. This is Lauren Boebert. She`s a congresswoman from
Colorado. They don`t like dumb government.
She was at a hearing. And she -- her background on her Zoom is a whole
bunch of guns.
Michael, I grew up in Colorado. Lots of people have guns. Nobody I ever met
my entire life -- and probably all my neighbors had guns. No one ever
showed them to us. This is stupid. How does stupid get you more votes?
STEELE: Apparently, it does, because they`re electing them.
And that`s -- I mean, she got elected. Marjorie Taylor Greene got elected.
So, I don`t know what people are expecting or what they`re looking for out
of their leaders.
I mean, you want your congresswoman sitting in a hearing with AK-47s as her
backdrop? I mean, OK. I guess if that`s your thing, and that`s what gets
your boat floating, then OK, shoot a hole in it. I don`t know.
STEELE: I don`t know, Joy. I think a lot of people...
REID: Allen West got elected, brother. One term.
Well, and maybe that`s what it should be. But I think a lot of people in
the country right now are shaking their head and looking at the GOP and
going, what the hell? I mean, seriously?
OK, so what`s the next level of crazy you`re going to go to, to prove what?
A party, leadership should be about the very thing that Victoria touched
on. And that`s governing. How do you govern?
STEELE: Not just in the good times, when you can show how smart you are, et
cetera, but in the tough times, when those smarts need to be tested and put
to put to work.
STEELE: And across the board, that has been a failing point.
REID: Real quickly, Vicky, because, on the other side of the aisle, you
have somebody like a Governor Cuomo, who actually really got lauded for his
really smart handling and compassionate handling of the COVID crisis, only
to now face his own scandal over not necessarily being super transparent
about some of the deaths that were happening in nursing homes.
Talk a little bit about that, because that then begins to mitigate the idea
of good governance, at least from someone like him, who`s somebody who`s
seen as having maybe a national future.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: At the core of good governance is truth. It`s
And you cannot hide. You can hide for a little bit, but, ultimately, it`s
going to come out. And in this day and age, when we have technology, when
we have so many virtual files, when we have our text messages that can be
made public, we need to understand that you cannot hide.
And I think this is what`s so frustrating for someone who otherwise is very
talented, is very smart, to think that they can get away with this. And I
think that is the problem. And that`s why we need more transparency.
If people were dying, OK, this is a tragedy, but how are we going to fix
it? Because, if we don`t have the real numbers, if we don`t have
transparency, we can`t formulate policy to make good on it.
REID: And, you know -- but you know what the difference is? Democrats in
New York will make -- will punish him for that.
Republicans would just be like, so? That`s the difference between the two
Michael Steele and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto will be back for the glorious
return of "Who Won the Week?"
But, first, as we continue celebrating Black History Month, award-winning
director Lee Daniels is here to talk about his must-see new film, "The
United States vs. Billie Holiday," the untold story of the legendary
singer`s civil rights activism.
I am so excited to talk to him.
We`re back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What is the government`s problem with Billie Holiday?
Why is the government always after you?
ANDRA DAY, ACTRESS: My song "Strange Fruit," it reminds them that they are
killing us. I single out the names of my suppliers. They don`t want no
names. They want to destroy me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: In the upcoming film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," the
great Andra Day plays the jazz legend, who faced unrelenting attacks from
the federal government after she refused to stop singing her anti-lynching
masterpiece "Strange Fruit."
As "The Hollywood Reporter" points out, it`s one of two new movies, along
with "Judas and the Black Messiah" about Black Panther Fred Hampton, that
"depict relentless campaigns by American government intelligence agencies
to silence influential black voices closely after an impeachment trial, in
which the majority of GOP senators showed their complicity in violence from
white supremacist groups by voting to acquit the instigator in chief."
And I`m joined now by Lee Daniels, director of "The United States vs.
Lee, it`s so great to talk to you. Congratulations on the film.
LEE DANIELS, DIRECTOR: Thank you, Joy.
REID: I`m hearing probably the name Andra Day every day and talking about
this incredible performance.
REID: But you decided to do something different.
My good friend Chris Witherspoon from PopViewers, he made this really great
point to me and some friends. We were talking about Billie Holiday. And
most people know "Lady Sings the Blues." They know that kind of narrative
about her, her music, and even some of her troubles. But she went right for
the political FBI attacks on her.
DANIELS: Because I didn`t know that it happened.
I`m a psycho fan of "Lady Sings the Blues." And I thought that she was --
Billie Holiday was a great jazz singer, a troubled woman that was in and
out of jail. But I didn`t know that she was a civil rights leader and that
she was -- that she kicked off the civil rights movement as we know it with
this "Strange Fruit" song, and that the government really tried to stop
They did everything they could to stop her. And so -- and I was -- I had to
tell the story. There was no way I could not tell the story. It`s too
important of a story to not tell.
REID: And the song "Strange Fruit," of course, being about lynching and
talking about that, particularly in that era, when white audiences did not
want to think about the things that their own cousins, friends, family
members, police officers they trusted were doing, talk about making a film
like that at a time when we just saw Confederate Flags flying in our
Capitol, when we saw the attempted lynching, a lynch mob go in to try to
get the speaker of the House, to get the vice president.
And that -- to me, when I saw those crowds rush in, I thought, that must be
what a lynch mob looked like.
DANIELS: Joy, I had no idea when we did this movie that we would have the
George Floyd incident or even the noose at the Capitol.
But it was an aerosol in -- and it was a -- I did "The Butler." And with
"Butler," it was hope. We thought -- I felt hope with Obama in office.
But with Trump, I just -- I did it because my spirit attracted me to what
was in the air. And in the air were nooses.
So, no, I didn`t see them, but we saw them later on.
And we`re seeing now law enforcement get a lot of questions. You have the
Capitol Police now are investigating some of their own for potential
complicity in the crime that we saw take place on January 6.
How in your sort of -- in the narrative of when we talk about lynchings,
and we talk about violence against the black body, how much does law
enforcement needs to be talked about, and the FBI, indeed?
DANIELS: Part of the reason I did the movie, too, was my dad was a cop.
And the only time I saw him cry -- we`re from Philadelphia. And the only
time I saw him cry was when he came home after Rizzo, Commissioner Rizzo,
because he wasn`t mayor then, did what he did to MOVE, the MOVE,
organization. It was an atrocity.
And I think that this is a dilemma. We are in a dilemma. And this is -- it
just seems like it`s -- from Billie`s time to my -- to the `60, `70s, to
today, this country is in trouble. This country is in trouble. And I only
know how to help through my work.
REID: Yes. And you do. I mean, the stories that you tell are so rich and so
DANIELS: Thank you.
REID: I have to talk -- have you talk just a little bit about Andra Day.
REID: Her transformation into Billie Holiday is remarkable.
DANIELS: Thank you.
REID: Talk a little bit about her, because this is her first big acting
DANIELS: First big acting gig.
I think that she trusted me. Often -- I`m so transparent with my actors and
about my vulnerabilities and my flaws. And she just -- she just -- we
jumped off the cliff together in telling -- she knew the importance and how
important it was for both of us to tell Billie`s story, to tell it the
DANIELS: And I`m just -- it was it was a gift from God, Joy.
I thought she -- I don`t -- God`s been looking over this project. Billie
has been looking over this project by handing me her, yes.
And what do you hope people take away overall from the film?
DANIELS: I think that if Billie, who was a queer black woman in the `50s,
could go out and stand up to the government, because she didn`t look at
herself as a civil rights leader -- she was just living in her truth and
doing her thing -- that if Billie could do that back in the `50s, we must
do the same.
We owe it to her. We owe it to people that have died for us to do the same,
such as you`re doing, Joy.
REID: Yes. Everyone has to watch this movie.
DANIELS: You do. You do it. You do it. You do it every -- you do it every
day. So, we all have to be like you.
REID: You`re too kind. Oh, you`re too kind. You`re too kind. You`re too
DANIELS: I`m too real. I`m too real.
REID: Well, now I`m going to keep you. See, now it`s a hostage situation.
DANIELS: Uh-oh. Uh-oh.
REID: So, you`re going to stay right here, because we have made it to
Friday. And you know what that means.
It is now time to find out, with our wonderful special guest Lee Daniels,
"Who Won The Week?"
Michael Steele, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto are back with Lee Daniels.
OK, so, Michael, you are the veteran in this "Who Won The Week?" game, so
I`m going to allow you, sir, to go first.
Michael Steele, who won the week?
STEELE: I`m going to go a little bit contrarian here. Ted Cruz won the
STEELE: And he won the week -- he won the week because this brother has
given every aspiring and currently serving elected official a primer on
what your responsibilities are and are not in a storm.
STEELE: Just so we clear.
REID: It`s like what not to wear. It`s like not what not to wear,
REID: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, can you please, can you, Victoria, can
just rescue this, please?
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: I went the complete opposite.
REID: Who won the week? OK, OK.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: We`re going with Texans, everyday Texan neighbors, Texan
neighbors who were checking on each other, who were pulling each other out
of ditches when they were on the roads.
And a very special shout-out to my parents` neighbors who were taking care
of them when I couldn`t get to them because of the storm. So, it`s about
the Texan neighbors this week.
REID: Yes. That`s wonderful. See, that`s good.
See, Michael, that`s how you do a positive.
REID: Because yours was super ironic. It was funny. It was comedy.
But I don`t know if it was really the winner.
OK, we`re going to give Lee Daniels, who is our special, wonderful,
DANIELS: OK. I...
REID: Sir, who, in your view, won the week?
DANIELS: I`m mad at him, because Ted Cruz rocks my world for that one. That
was a good one.
DANIELS: I was saying -- I was saying the 911 workers from the -- from
I mean, all around the country -- all around the state, what they have been
doing is an incredible job. Half of them don`t have electricity. They`re in
the same -- their home -- it`s a mess out there for them. And yet they`re
able to direct people that are calling in.
They are -- they are my heroes right now.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
Well, my pick is not a person.
REID: My pick is a little, adorable thing, Snowflake.
Snowflake won the week. And I`m going to tell you why.
Snowflake, who was left at home with some human who also was ditched by Ted
Cruz and didn`t get to go to Mexico...
REID: ... got to spend a full 24 hours not in the presence of Ted Cruz.
That`s called Snowflake winning the week.
I`m the host. Therefore, I win.
Lee Daniels, Michael Steele, Mike -- Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, that is
Lee`s new movie, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," premieres next
Friday on Hulu. You must watch it.
That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is rescuing right now -- up next, the former FEMA
Director Craig Fugate.
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