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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/26/21

Guests: Erica Thomas, Ari Berman, Michael Eric Dyson, Cory Booker, Maria Teresa Kumar, Charlie Sykes


New voting restrictions become law in Georgia; Governor Kemp signs voting restrictions bill behind closed door; Georgia state representative arrested outside bill-signing ceremony; Biden calls Georgia`s new voting restrictions an atrocity; Democratic Senator Warnock slams Republicans for making public policy based on a lie; Georgia state representative charged with felony for knocking on door of bill-signing ceremony; Georgia law makes it a crime to provide food or water to voters; GOP moves to restrict voting after 2020 losses; Georgia Republicans pass new voter suppression law; Six GOP-led states pushing for more power over elections.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: This Sunday night, which will be the eve of the beginning of the murder trial dealing with the killing of George Floyd, MSNBC has a special, The Trial, The Killing of George Floyd. I will be anchoring it at 6:00 P.M. Eastern this Sunday, I wanted you to know about that. It`s right here on MSNBC.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the return of Jim Crow in Georgia and Republican`s latest salvo in their war on democracy.

Now, by now, you have seen this infamous photo, Georgia`s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, flanked by six suited Republican lawmakers, all white men, of course, signing the state new draconian voter suppression restrictions into law.

What you might not have noticed is the painting on the wall behind them. Take a closer look. As Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist, Will Bunch, pointed out earlier today, Kemp signed that law to try to quash non-white voting, particularly targeting black voters like those in Fulton County under a painting of a notorious plantation, namely Callaway Plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia. You can tour it. They promote it as an elegant antebellum brick mansion with not much promo about the brutality that befell the hundreds-plus people who are enslave on the 3,000-acre plantation, beside from a brief note that a slave cabin is one of a structure available for touring, if you want.

So that, that`s the backdrop under which Brian Kemp hastily, and behind closed door, signed a law putting Georgia on an express train back to the Jim Crower era, while this was happening, just outside those doors.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you said you give her one more time, like you`re going to do something.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No you are not represent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s now under arrest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For what? Under arrest for what?


REID: African American State Representative Park Cannon was arrested and charged with a felony after knocking on the governor`s door during the signing. It`s just almost poetic how much the history this week rhymes, isn`t it? I mean, it doesn`t get much clearer who this law is designed to benefit and who it is designed to hurt. Of descendant of enslave Americans carded away by white policemen for daring to try to witness the voting rights of black and other non-white people being stripped away by a white governor whose previous claim to fame was purging tens thousands of black voters straight off the rolls so that he could win.

What Representative Cannon was demanding, is nothing than more than transparency. And transparency seems pretty important when it comes to what this new Georgia law actually does. To start, most egregiously, it makes it a crime in Georgia to give food and water to people waiting in line to vote. It also allows unlimited challenges to a voter`s registration, requires I.D. to cast mail in ballots and ban third party groups from sending absentee ballot applications.

It also effectively allows the Republican-dominated legislature to take over local elections, stripping the secretary of state as chair of the state election board, allowing the Republican General Assembly to appoint three out of the five members to the board. Basically, Republicans now totally controls who gets elected in Georgia.

The new law also cuts the number of ballot drop boxes, like, surprise, surprise, the one Brian Kemp himself used to vote last November.

But make no mistake. Despite signing this law behind closed doors with only his white male friends present, Kemp, certainly wasn`t trying to keep it a secret. He live streamed himself making it illegal to do things like hand people water while they`re standing in lines that have been known to get really, really long, like the ones we saw throughout Georgia`s early voting period last fall, when voters, mostly black and brown waited in line for hours to vote, just the way Republicans like it.

Yesterday, President Biden called efforts to suppress voting across the country sick, and today, he blasted Georgia`s attack on the right to vote.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s an atrocity. The idea -- you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they pass the law saying you can`t provide water for people standing in line while they`re waiting to vote. You don`t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive design to keep people from voting. You can`t provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break.


REID: And it`s not just punitive in that respect. Georgia`s law also notably shortens the window for runoff elections, like the hard-fought ones that yielded victories in January by Democrats, Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock, which also happen to give Democrats control of the United States Senate. Just to be clear what this is about, namely power.

Today, Senator Warnock, the first black Senator in the state history, dragged Senate Republicans for using -- state Republicans, for using the law to promote the debunked big lie of election fraud.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): So, you are literally going to make public policy based on a lie, based on the feeling that some people have that things didn`t turn out the way they should have turned out? Is that how we make public policy? We counted the votes not once, not twice but three times. So what`s the purpose of all of this? They don`t like the outcome and so this is democracy in reverse, where politicians have decided that instead of the voters picking their representatives, the representatives have a right to cherry-pick their voters. It`s un-American. It`s anti- democratic. We have to resist it.


REID: Joining me now is Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas, Michael Eric Dyson, distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and Ari Berman, Senior Reported for Mother Jones. Thank you all for being here.

And I want to start with you, Representative Thomas, because you were seen in that video too. I`m just going to play it while I ask you a question here, because you`re also seen in the video yelling at those officers who arrested Representative Park Cannon. She`s now charged with a felony for trying to enter the governor`s office. She`s an elected official, you`re yelling, she`s an elected official. Have you spoken with Representative Cannon? How is she?

STATE REP. ERICA THOMAS (D-GA): Yes, I have spoken with her and she`s taking time right now to be with her family and, to be honest, get ready for Monday. You know we`re back at it again on Monday fighting these egregious laws. And so she is taking the time to kind of get herself together and be ready to fight again on Monday.

REID: And, Representative Thomas, Republicans put in place -- this is like a 95-page bill that started off for a two page bill, and adding things like, you can`t give people water when they`re standing in line. It sounds like they`re saying, line up because we`re going to make it impossible to vote to vote by mail and then you need to be -- willing to be tortured, to be thirsty for eight or ten hours. And if you don`t want that, and then you need to get out on the line and go home. It seems like straight voter suppression. Have Republicans articulated how they justify making it illegal to give people food and water while they`re in line?

THOMAS: It`s crazy that you say that because when we were debating on the floor, SB202, one of the Republicans did stand up and say this bill is not about regular citizens. This bill is about candidates passing out water. But when you look at the 95-page bill, it does not say that.

And, to be honest, this process has been under cloak and dagger since the beginning. They have not been uploading the bill in a timely fashion where, of course, we`re in COVID-19, so a lot of our staff is at home. They`re not able to read the bill. We`re having to take pictures of the bill and send it to the staff, their substitutes. They`ve been calling meetings. An hour before the meeting, this was the call, be here at 8:00 A.M. Okay, now we`re moving into 4:00.

You know the whole process has been flawed. And so it was just a bill build up to what happened yesterday because we are so tired of this whole process of these egregious bills that affect all Georgians but there is only a certain amount of Georgians that are getting to make those decisions.

REID: Yes, obviously. Ari Berman, it seems like the problem they`re trying to fix is Democrats winning. And so they`re essentially saying, we`re going to do things to guarantee that when Republicans vote for candidate A, candidate A must win, because then were otherwise Republicans won`t trust the process because they only trust the process when they win.

And as if there`s -- I need evidence of that. Donald Trump praised the Republican in the state. He had been beating up on Brian Kemp, now he`s praising him and the other Republicans for passing this bill, and basically saying, what took you so long.

ARI BERMAN, MOTHER JONES SENIOR REPORTER: Well, that`s absolutely right, Joy, because Republicans wrote every aspect of Georgia`s voting laws. And the only changed them after Democrat used them to their advantage. And it was the Republican secretary of state of Georgia who defended the integrity of the election. Then they passed an election integrity act, so-called, of 2021, to undermine the integrity of the election.

And the one Republican who stood up to Donald Trump is the guy they then stripped of power and removed as chair and a voting member of the state board of elections, so they consolidate control over the process.

So they were totally fine with all of this innovation with mail voting, with early voting, with automatic registration, with the state board of election and how everything ran until Democrats won, until a black senator was elected. And only then did they say, we need to change this entire system because it`s not working for us anymore.

REID: Yes, black senator and a Jewish senator, like, basically the makeup of the civil rights movement of the 1960s won the election and they are losing their minds.

Michael Eric Dyson, you know, it does seem like they`re two pieces to what they are doing. One is saying Republican voter, we know you`re less than motivated because we lost these elections in Georgia so we`re going to motivate you by guaranteeing you a win. Because if you don`t like that black voters vote a lot, you can challenge their registration. If that doesn`t work, we`ll just put on a board and flip the election to what you want it. That feels like they`re just saying to the January 6th people who siege the Capitol, we`ll make sure that you never have to experience losing again. That is what this feels like, and not just this state but all over the country.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: And to echo you, Joy, and to provide the coda, we`ll give you the symbology, the symbolism. We will arrest a black woman who is legitimately elected to represent voters in Georgia, and on January 6th, we will allow you to storm the dome, the most sacred space in civic America, and allow do you have at will and do what you will. So not only are we subordinating a woman who is legally designated as a legislator and then subject her to criminal penalty, we will allow you to go free. If that`s not a chronology, let`s put it right, it`s a Jim Crownology.

And when we do a Jim Crownology, we understand that the Voting Rights Act is merely an inconvenient interruption of white supremacist power. What we have here is mail-in voting, as in white males, and they are in for voting. But they are not for anybody else voting, they want to restrict it every way they can.

And look at the machinations, the imagination it takes to try to figure out how to deny black people vote. Black people have been quite literal. We want to exercise the franchise, therefore we want to march to the polls and we want to pull that lever, used to be dipole that chair (ph). And white imagination has been galvanized in order to subvert it.

So this is nothing more -- I mean, President Biden is right, this is Jim Crow, this is Jane Crow, this is their kids. This is the whole nesting of white supremacy. And if we`re trying to pretend we don`t know, this is the weaponization of conspiracy theory and it now has come to the place that we find so reprehensible.

And by saying this, Brian Kemp and Raffensperger knows that crew, you fought against Donald Trump. You wanted to get back in his good graces. So, as you pointed out, paradoxically, you undermine the very ostensible legitimacy you possess to defend yourself against him now to hand him the plate. The real religion, the real politics in America is whiteness and whiteness unhinged.

REID: Well, and power. You know, Representative Thomas, you know Donald Trump is under investigation, criminal investigation in Georgia for what he did to try to steal the election there. Brad Raffensperger and the rest defended the election. They did three audits. Everyone understands that it was a legitimate election except apparently the people in the legislature.

The polls show this is very unpopular. Georgians do not want this done. A vast majority oppose. 76 percent oppose stripping authority from the secretary of state. 77 percent oppose the criminalization of giving food and water. 70 percent oppose tossing out votes for eligible voters. Is the Democratic Party prepared not just to galvanize voters to get them acquainted to these new tricks that they have to jump through and hoops they have to jump through to vote in 2022 and beyond, but also to make these Republican state legislators pay for going against the will of the people?

THOMAS: Yes, we are prepared. Just like you saw two weeks ago, the author of this bill, Representative Barry Fleming, was fired. He was the county attorney for Hancock County, which was one of the highest percentages of black voters in Georgia. They fired him right on the spot. And they were upset that he would even carry a bill and then represent their county.

So people are coming for them. We have put pressure on the businesses, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and they finally came out and are against this bill.

We have to really talk about where the money is going. And we also have to talk about a fiscal note. Legally, it is required to have a fiscal note on anything that has a fiscal impact on our state. And this bill will cost over $60 million to counties all over Georgia. And they would not give us a fiscal note because they know that not just the Democrats but if the Republicans, their voters saw this impact and how the money -- where the money is going, they would be upset as well. And so they tried to hide that.

You know, and again, voters don`t want this. We did an amazing job in 2020. I mean, we should be doing a victory lap right now. We should be celebrating. But how do we celebrate? They cherry-pick and try to find out ways so that it never happens again, that is what they`re trying to do.

REID: And, again, Ari Berman if -- indeed. And Ari Berman, if the filibuster is not gone and the S.R.1 does not pass, then what? Because it sounds to me like this is essentially -- David Plouffe said it yesterday on this show, it`s the end of elections.

BERMAN: This is the most important issue facing democracy and facing the Democratic Party right now. Democrats can either get rid of the filibuster to pass the For the People Act and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, or they can keep the filibuster and allow Republicans all across the country to implement Jim Crow 2.0.

This is not stopping at Georgia, Joy. This is happening in Florida, It`s happening in Michigan. It`s happening in Arizona. It`s happening in every single state Republicans control because voter suppression is now the central organizing principle of the Republican Party.

So if Democrats don`t get rid of the filibuster to pass the For the People Act, or to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, democracy itself is going to be severely undermined and the Democratic Party may no longer be a majority party in America.

That`s how big the stakes are right now. You can`t underestimate how big this issue is right now in America.

REID: Very quickly, you met recently with President Biden, Michael Eric Dyson, with other historians. Do you think that Joe Biden is ready to do that, to get the filibuster? Very quickly, we`re out of time, very much out of time.

DYSON: Well, you know, I think he`s contemplating it seriously when he sees the consequences. What he needs to do is fill these busters with some fear of the government. These are the kind of people who would pass a law to keep Jesus from getting a cup of water while he`s dying on the cross.

REID: Yes, that is sad but true. Sad but true. So, State Representative Erica Thomas, thank you. Please pass along to Representative Cannon our thoughts are with here. So thank you for being here. Michael Eric Dyson, my friend, Ari Berman, thank you for all that you guys do.

And, by the way, Senator Raphael Warnock will be Rachel Maddow`s guest tonight. You do not want to miss that.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Senator Cory Booker joins me on how the new Georgia voter suppression law is being used, indeed, as you just heard Ari Berman say, as a model for Republican efforts all over this country.

And also some nature news, take a look what was spotted out in the wild and not in his natural habitat.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We`re at the edge of the river and the other side of the river is Mexico.


REID: Absolutely frightening.

Plus, a billion dollar lawsuit targeting the election fraud big lie. We`ll have more on that when THE REIDOUT comes back after this quick break.



SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Our democracy is in a 911 emergency.

And I`m not about to be stopped or stymied by debates about Senate rules. It`s a contradiction for us to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate, while right now here in Georgia, they`re trying to crush minority rights in the society.


REID: That was Senator and Reverend Raphael Warnock making a really good point and calling on the Senate to do something to fight back against Georgia`s new draconian elections law.

His fellow Democratic senators have a choice before them, step up and pass the For the People Act, their federal voting reform and anti-corruption bill, or let the Republican Party fundamentally alter American democracy forever by crashing it into a tree.

Standing in the way of action, of course, is the lack of unified Democratic support in the Senate for overturning the body`s arcane Jim Crow relic the filibuster. And, today, President Biden acknowledged that Democrats are several votes shy of that goal.


QUESTION: How does the voting issue affect your thinking on the filibuster?


The question is whether or not -- you have that 50 votes, 51 votes you have to win to be able to move the filibuster and any change in the filibuster. And right now, that doesn`t exist. That doesn`t exist.

So, look, I -- the only thing I have been relatively good at in my long career in the Senate is figuring out when to move and when not to move. You got to have the votes.


REID: The president, a veteran of the Senate, is tacitly recognizing -- maybe even not-so-tacitly recognizing -- that until senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema change their minds, it just is not going to happen. We`re not going to be able to get rid of the filibuster. And that`s just a thing that is true.

Joining me now is Senator Cory Booker of the great state of New Jersey.

And, Senator, I don`t get it, I guess. Democrats now have power. But it seems to me that there are some senators who are saying, we don`t want to use our power. We are much more interested in Republicans having power. That`s what Joe Manchin sounds like when I hear him talk. It sounds like he`s saying, if Republicans don`t have power, I`m not for it.

Am I hearing him wrong?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, clearly, we are going to have some very intense discussions. This happened last night, as the Senate left for our two-week recess.

But there -- it is not overdramatic language to say very clearly that Georgia is leading, because there`s many other states, over 250 laws like George`s that have been put forward in over 30 states. But what Georgia has done is trying to take a step back to the days of Bull Connor and Governor Wallace, the days where John Lewis was being beat for voting rights.

It is a massive step backwards. And in today`s context, it also is massive step towards authoritarianism. Remember, there`s -- all around the planet right now, there are democratic countries, from Turkey to Hungary, whose leaders are in power and decide they don`t want to leave. So they begin to change laws in their countries, lurching them towards authoritarianism, and against the free democratic principles and ideals that we herald in this country.

This is people in power in Georgia and in other states saying, we cannot keep power in a flourishing, vibrant democracy. And, therefore, we are going to take a large step in American society away from democracy and freedom and towards authoritarianism and repression.

So, the Senate needs to have a conversation and decide, on which side of history do we stand? Because this is very resonant with the assault on the Capitol. This may not be a violent insurrection, but it is what happens in authoritarian states, when people try to hold onto power and undermine our traditions.

In one case, it`s a peaceful transition of power. In another, it`s free and fair elections. This is a serious inflection point for the United States of America. And so this is bigger than legislative filibusters. This is about the character and culture of American democracy.

And I, for one, am going to push with every fiber of my being to choose democracy, to choose inclusive multicultural democratic principles over the forces of authoritarianism that are rising up in our country and threatening the values that we all hold dear.

And the point that was made in your previous segment is the popularity of democracy and how much people, resoundingly, in Georgia, a purple state, over 70 percent decry that this is wrong.

REID: Well, and the challenge is, is, can they then vote out the people who`ve made these rules? Because, to your point, the way that this normally works is, you create rules that make it so that you cannot be removed.

This could also be called the Brian Kemp reelection guarantee act, because he sees Stacey Abrams coming. He knows Raphael Warnock is going to be up for reelection. They will both be on that same ballot.

And so he knows that`s coming. And so he`s sort of written a law that makes it much harder to remove him. And this is not just in Georgia. If it was just in Georgia, you could say Brian Kemp is just a bad guy. And you couldn`t say Brian Kemp was just a bad guy.

But you also have 253 bills with similar provisions to restrict voting in 43 states. Basically, wherever Republicans have power, you have GOP-backed bills that are aimed at saying they can actually just control the election from the state legislature. That`s passed in Iowa, passed in Arizona, passed in Georgia, proposed in Kansas, proposed in Texas, proposed in Michigan.

This -- you`re absolutely right that this is nothing short of saying that we will guarantee that Republican voters always get their way, because it`s the only way to get them to participate.

But I wonder, have you and Raphael Warnock -- there are three black senators. You -- I don`t know if Tim Scott rolls with you all or talks to you all or whatever. But at least have you and Raphael Warnock sat down with Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin -- I know that you have a relationship with Manchin -- and said this to them?

Because maybe they need to hear it from African-Americans direct to their face, because I don`t think they get that, Senator. I really don`t think they do.

BOOKER: Well, again, so Senator Warnock and I have been exchanging texts and phone calls all day.

He and I are the same age. We were born four years after the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Voting Rights Act. We know our generation has inherited fruits born from the blood of our ancestors. This is deeply felt by him -- he and I.

And as was the case before he got to the Senate after Ferguson, as was the case after George Floyd and the numerous other cases, our entire caucus will hear from us. I make no -- it was no coincidence. In all the subjects that Raphael Warnock could have spoken about in his maiden speech, of all the issues that are urgent and pertain to his state and our nation, he chose this -- this subject to speak to and foreshadowing the urgency that I hope more people understand right now.

And this is the issue. I know my history. I know our history. You will say change doesn`t come from Washington. It has to come to Washington. It wasn`t Strom Thurmond, who has the longest filibuster in Senate history, which was a racist rant against civil rights and the Civil Rights Act.

He didn`t just one day say: I have seen the light, and those Negro people should have their rights. No, we had to have struggle. We had to have activism. We had to have engagement. And it was in that time that Strom Thurmond and others were blocking civil rights and blocking voting rights that a pastor, who belonged to the church that Warnock is the pastor of, who said with clarity, that the problem today is not the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of the good people.

You cannot be a bystander as this goes on. You have to make a choice. This is an inflection point. Will you demand that we are a vibrant, multicultural democracy, or will you submit to our nation slipping towards demagoguery and authoritarianism?

And, in Georgia, there are companies and corporations that know this is wrong. Their silence will define them. There are organizations, there are business groups, there are business roundtables and more that know this is wrong. If they do not speak up, their silence will define them.

There are folk who have good hearts in both parties who see what`s happening and disapprove of it. Don`t let their silence be complicity. We need to speak up, all of us. And that will help us to break any blockage in the Senate. As it has in our history, so shall be in our, God willing, very near future.

REID: Yes.

We shall see, because this is coming. Heritage Action, fresh off of cashiering their first and only ever black woman leader, are out there rooting for this, as well as Donald Trump. It is a frightening time in America for our democracy.

Senator Cory Booker, good of you to be here, sir. Thank you very much. And please come back. Appreciate you.

BOOKER: Thank you.


REID: Still ahead -- thank you.

And, somebody, please have a conversation with Joe Manchin, because he needs to hear that.

Senator Ted Cruz, meanwhile, and some of his Republican cronies are taking their all-about-the-border show on the road, hoping to, I don`t know, do what exactly? Oh, right, get on TV and scare elderly FOX News viewers out of their minds about brown people, brown people, but not to actually do anything about immigration reform, because that would involve actual work.

And work is hard, hard to do.

We will be right back.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): And when they say this is a Trump problem, they`re lying.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): But the Biden administration wants to hide what is going on here.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA): How can you pass an immigration bill when you have an open border?


REID: A delegation of Republican senators took their Biden bashing to the Southern border today, where they vowed once again to stand in the way of immigration reform.

And it was clear they put some real thought into their press conference stagecraft. I mean, they even made their entrance from aboard a small fleet of patrol votes armed with mounted machine guns.

For their right-wing faithful, that`s the whole blue plate special, the great outdoors, heavy weaponry, and Republican argle-bargling on immigration. The brown people are coming. They`re all going to turn into Democrats and eat you for dinner. Rawr.

After their arrival in Texas yesterday, some of the more opportunistic Republican lawmakers chose to record self-serving political attacks against the backdrop of suffering migrants. The worst of the photo-ops, however, came of course, from the captain of the winter storm getaway, wife non- defender and part-time Texas Senator Ted "Cancun" Cruz.

At midnight last night, Cruz posted a video from a thicket on the banks of the Rio Grande, where he said that he had witnessed members of drug cartels and human traffickers with his own special eyes.

But with his bush gear and his hushed tones, Cruz looked more like he fancied himself not as a mere senator, no, no, no, but as the host of a nature documentary, narrating directly to camera, like a chunky discount David Attenborough with a mullet, or perhaps as the next Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter, God rest his actually brave soul, as our friends at "Morning Joe" pointed out.


STEVE IRWIN, ZOOKEEPER: Now that we have gotten secured, settled, and relaxed, quite comfortable, I guess.

CRUZ: So it`s past midnight. I`m standing on the shore of the Rio Grande. The water is right behind me. We`re at the edge of the river. On the other side of the river is Mexico.

IRWIN: Try and keep you as happy as a pig in mud.

CRUZ: It`s a public health crisis.

IRWIN: It`s important that we leave him alone now for a few hours just to let him relax.

CRUZ: Stop sanctioning lawless chaos on our Southern border.



REID: I just want to know if there`s a luxury hotel on the other side of that dark thicket.

David Plouffe summed up Cruz`s day of adventure with a caption describing America`s most ironic anti-brown person crusader as the rarely seen bearded Pudgy Wanker in the wild, or, as we described him on this program, the perennial absolute worst.

And joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, and Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark.

Well, Ted Cruz tried his best, Maria Teresa Kumar, to capture the terror that had to be felt by everyone, Southern border, at seeing a dark thicket, upon -- on the other side of which are probably brown migrants.

Your thoughts?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTO LATINO: Well, Joy, I guess we`re lucky that it wasn`t the version of "Naked and Afraid," because that`s basically what...


REID: Ew. Ew. I don`t need that visual. Sorry. Nope. No.


REID: No, no. Ever.


But, in all seriousness, what he is doing, it`s all theatrics on his part. He has no solutions. And instead of actually saying that he cares about the border, he cares about keeping Texans safe, he cares about the people that are sacrificing their lives to make a treacherous journey, he makes a mockery of it, and he makes a mockery of himself and the Republican Party.

And it is devastating, because what we should be talking about is the root causes. So, you have on one side Cruz and the Republicans. And, on the other, you have Joe Biden, who has now appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about the root causes why people are making that treacherous journey to really try to understand the issue, because ,at the end of the day, we can talk about mitigating the flow of people coming across the border.

But we have to go to the source. We actually have to recognize that it`s not the border. That`s a Band-Aid. That is addressing a Band-Aid, a Band- Aid wound. But the real problem, the real issue is coming from these individuals `home countries.

REID: Yes.

And, Charlie, it`s clear that Republicans are trying to make it look like they`re driving a hard bargain with Joe Biden saying, we want border security, or you can`t get immigration reform.

But they did this same act with Obama/Biden, and got lots of deportations. And the Obama/Biden administration got nothing, because they were never going to get on the bill. Marco Rubio didn`t have the courage to stand up to the late Rush Limbaugh, who yelled at him on Twitter for like 10 seconds. He was like, oh, my God, I`m off the bill.

Like, they`re not going to do anything. And does it -- I don`t know if it annoys you as much as it annoys me that the media has sort of picked up on this narrative. This was most of the questions to Joe Biden yesterday, nothing on COVID, nothing at all on the $1.9 trillion that is landing in people`s -- checks in bank accounts, like nothing.

Everyone is sort of going along with this brown scare. And it is a thing. Your thoughts?


Back in 1985, Neil Postman wrote a book called "Amusing Ourselves to Death." And he`s talking about how politics has become entertainment. And this is the point. This is a serious problem. This is a humanitarian crisis.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: And what do we get? We have the United States senators. They are not legislating. They`re not proposing alternatives. They`re playing dress-up. It`s all cosplay.

And there`s a guy like Ted Cruz, who at one time claimed to be a serious legislator, and now posts videos of themselves baking bacon with a machine gun or playing dress-up on the on the border.

And part of it is sort of eye-rolling. But, also, it really is a reflection of our politics right now.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: If this is a serious matter, if it`s a matter of life and death and national security, why don`t you act like it? Why don`t you sit down and say, what is your better idea?

Do you really want to just throw the kids back over across the river? But this is the problem.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: If you create the images, then you drive the narrative. And then, unfortunately, what you saw yesterday was the media picks up on that narrative.

And even though we have had more than a half-million Americans die from the coronavirus, not one question about that. I haven`t gotten over that.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: But all the questions about the -- hey, look with Ted Cruz and saying what`s going on in the border. And, look, he`s wearing a flak jacket, so this must be big. This must be important.



REID: And he thinks he looks cool, which is the funniest part.

And, I mean, look, if you don`t throw them back over the border, who`s going to clean the Ritz-Carlton, so that when Ted wants to come over and spend some time during a winter blast, who is going to do that?

I want to ask you guys quickly about Dominion, because this is another topic that I want to get to with you guys, because this is actually a genuine threat, Maria Teresa, financially.

Now FOX News has been hit. They`re going and systematically just suing folks who sort of promulgated the big lie. Are they more likely to wind up getting justice of a sort than even the feds for the January 6 insurrection?


KUMAR: Yes, I think what is happening with Dominion is very clear that they are hitting FOX News and all these right-wing folks in their pocketbooks. And money talks, and they make that very clear.

But Lou Dobbs was just a casualty of it, but he`s not the first one. And so the more that we actually recognize what it means, that we should be going after advertisers when people are not being forthcoming, when they are actually trying to hurt our democracy, one of the things that -- what struck me yesterday by Joe Biden was, he was very clear.

And Cory Booker alluded to it yesterday. We right now in this country, we are in the fight of our democracy, because it`s going to be, at the end of the 21st century, who won out, the autocracy or the democracy?

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: And so, Dominion, what they`re doing is, they`re recognizing, even in this moment, what you need to be able to do is go after the people that are trying to not only speak and create lies, but undermine our voting booth and our access to the ballot.

REID: Yes.

Very quickly -- absolutely.

And, Charlie Sykes, very quickly, the Republican Party`s out of the business of ideas and out of the business of democracy, which is a stunning development.

SYKES: No, you would normally think that a political party would be thinking, how do we expand our appeal? How do we get people to vote for us by having better ideas and more appealing policies?

Instead, they are doubling down on this big lie, the big lie that one hopes that Dominion is able to hold them accountable for, and going through the kinds of things you`re seeing in Georgia.

A party of ideas doesn`t feel the need to restrict the vote or make it illegal to hand out water to people standing in line to vote. That is not a good faith political party that has ideas that they want to compete with.

REID: Yes, or cosplay on the Rio Grande, because they looked really dumb.

I mean, Maria Teresa Kumar and Charlie Sykes are coming back later to tell us who won the week, other than the great outdoors.

But, first, MSNBC`s Richard Lui joins me next to talk about the AAPI awakening taking place right now in America, in the wake of the violence against Asian Americans.

You don`t want to go anywhere. Stay with us.


REID: In a show of support for the Asian American community facing a surge of violence, including last week`s shooting rampage targeting three spas in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them Asian women, dozens of governors and former top officials issued statements condemning the spike in anti-Asian harassment over the past year.

More than 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents have been self-reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is why, today, lawmakers and community leaders are observing a stop Asian -- Stop Asian Hate Virtual Day of Action.

It`s what MSNBC Richard Lui calls a watershed moment, writing in NBC THINK: "We need a march on the Mall in May, a reinvigorated presidential advisory commission, a Smithsonian National Museum. We need to push for national landmarks that reflect 200 years of AAPI contributions."

And joining me now is Richard Lui, my friend, MSNBC anchor, and author of the new book "Enough about Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness."

Richard, I`m so excited to have you on. Thank you so much for being here.

Your piece in THINK was really great. And you write about your own sort of -- sort of emerging self-awareness of yourself as an Asian American man and sort of how that`s changed your outlook. Talk a little bit about that, especially in the context of what we have seen, the violence that we have seen over the past year.

RICHARD LUI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hey, Joy, yes. And thanks for having me on this topic.

As I was growing up, that was a tough consideration. What was I as this model minority? Was I the good minority, or was I the bad minority? And have did those two come together? That very dynamic, I think, Joy, that was thrown out for me meant that I wanted to become the good minority, and then look down at the new minority, the new immigrants that came to America.

Those that look like me, I started to look down upon. That very struggle, I think, is what we`re seeing today in the streets, when we see AAPI reporters standing and reporting. And they`re able to go to a place we have never seen before. But they`re showing that, well, ignored history that we have had to struggle with collectively.

REID: Yes.

And you have new data that kind of sort of gives more context to what we have been seeing. Tell us a little bit about that.

LUI: Yes, there`s a new study coming out next Tuesday.

So, I called up AAPI Data. And you`re very familiar with them. They really do dig into this community quite well. And what they found in advance of Tuesday -- this is what they told me -- is that Asian Americans are less likely to report hate crimes. They`re not comfortable with it. They`re worried about it here, according to AAPI Data and SurveyMonkey working together, because they`re worried that they might be attacked again.

And how about this one? In terms of how often they are reporting, again, in this survey data here, is that, where are you from, where are you really from, that whole back and forth, right, that meme, that it`s three times more likely from the survey data overall that AAPIs will -- Asian Americans will have that experience, nine times more frequent than white Americans.

That clearly shows the perpetual foreigner dynamic that I have dealt with, that I write about in the THINK piece, that I express in the book that is forever a question: When am I here? When am I the good minority?

REID: And how do you -- how can journalism do better at this?

LUI: Yes.

REID: Because you`re absolutely right. Like, every Asian American person that I know has had the, where are you from?

LUI: Yes.

REID: And they will say, Chicago. And they will say, where are you really from?

LUI: Right. Right.

REID: No, no, I just -- I really said Chicago. And I can do this all day.


REID: But it is -- and it`s a thing.

And as -- in the journalism world, we`re not accustomed to talking and thinking about AAPI people, as the way that we do with black folks, with brown folks. How can we do better, journalistically?

LUI: Journalistically is to -- like, this conversation you and I are having, we need more of this, right, that two folks that look like us are talking as journalists, as hosts...

REID: Yes.

LUI: ... about this very topic.

In 1982, when Vincent Chin was killed in the street with a bat, which is a very familiar, unfortunately, story in America when it comes to minorities, there were maybe dozens of AAPI journalists. They`re the ones that documented that very first solidifying civil rights moment for this community.

Today, as you saw all of the reporters out across America, we now have over 1,500 AAPI reporters. We need more folks that look like that and more folks that understand that, because now what we`re getting is reporting of stories that we would not get otherwise from community to those reporters.

And so now we understand the magnitude of this problem. And that`s why this potentially could be the moment for a movement, if they can get the allyship.

REID: Absolutely.

And I would love for pollsters to get their lives together, because the other...

LUI: Yes.

REID: ... category is irritating, when we`re trying to figure out what people think in this country.

LUI: You...

REID: And Asian Americans just get dumped into other.

LUI: Hammer on the nailhead right there. That`s right. That`s right.



REID: Richard Lui, I can`t wait to read your book, my friend.

Thank you so much for taking some time. Really appreciate you. Have a great weekend.

LUI: Thank you, Joy, yes.

REID: Thank you.

And don`t go anywhere, because it`s Friday. And you all know what that means. It`s time to tell you who won the week.

We will be right back.


REID: Well, we finally made it to Friday, which means it`s time to play our favorite...



REID: "Who Won the Week?"

Back with are Maria Teresa Kumar and Charlie Sykes.

Maria Teresa Kumar, who won the week?

KUMAR: The American people.

We have 100 million individuals that got vaccinated, and we have 100 million people who in their bank accounts right now are receiving relief. And, more importantly, we have children that are under 6 receiving $300 a month for a year, children over six $250 a month. Their parents are for a year.

This is the beginning of potentially universal income for the most vulnerable.


REID: As long as everybody can vote, it`s going to be great.

Yes, I got my first Fauci this week. I was very excited about it. So you`re absolutely right. Woo-hoo. That is good news.

All right, it`s going to be hard to beat this one.

Charlie Sykes, my friend, who won the week?

SYKES: Well, I`m going to go with Dominion Voting Systems.


SYKES: Look, when appeals to truth, journalist -- good journalistic practice, basic human decency don`t work, nothing focuses the mind like a $1.6 billion lawsuit dropping the hammer on the lying liars.


SYKES: As a result of this lawsuit, we may actually find out whether or not there are consequences for the big lie that we still live with today.

REID: Oh, my God, you stole mine, because that was my original choice.



REID: Because it`s like the discovery is going to be awesome.

Can you imagine what they`re going to find out from MyPillow guy? It`s going to be bizarre and just wild.

OK, well, so my pick, because Charlie`s stole my vote, is going to be the great Kim Janey. Kim Janey is the first black woman to become mayor of Boston. I went to school in that neck of the woods. So it`s a big, big deal for a black woman to be mayor of Boston.

Marty Walsh resigned on Monday, leaving her to become the new mayor of Boston. That is a very big deal. It`s black history. She was one of the people who desegregated those schools and took the spitballs and all the horror that went when school desegregation happened in Boston.

So, congratulations to her.

All right, Maria Teresa Kumar, Charlie Sykes, thank you very much. Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend.

And that`s it. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.