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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/16/21

Guests: Justin Gill, Tim Miller, Ken Burns, Rasheda Ali, Michael Eric Dyson


Right-wing doubles down on anti-vax activism. Comedian Jim Breuer defends anti-vax stance. Idaho hospitals overwhelmed amid low vax rates. Some unvaccinated now calling themselves pure bloods. Right-wing touts morality of remaining unvaccinated. Hospitals struggling amid pandemic of the unvaccinated. Vaccine skepticism prolonging pandemic.


AURORA JAMES, ACTIVIST AND FASHION DESIGNER: I have a different point of view on it. And I think people, again, like they have these fears and they manifest itself in really dark ways sometimes. But, ultimately, she can continue to be who to be who she is, and I think that she`s set out to do exactly what she has done.


ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: You can catch my full interview with Aurora James this Saturday on my show, American Voices, at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.

THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Joy?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Alicia? I will definitely be tuning in. That`s sounds like a fascinating interview. Thank you very much.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

REID: Have a great evening, cheers.

All right, good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the never-ending right-wing freak out over COVID vaccinations. Frozen Foods scion Tuckums continued his week of insane, grasping its straws for cultural relevance, trotting out at a relevant comedian, former SNL GOAT boy Jim Breuer, to explain why he is not a demon, in his words, for choosing to go unvaccinated in a pandemic.


JIM BREUER, COMEDIAN: I`m not vaccinated. I had COVID. You`re not going to tell me about my body. I know my body. I know my morals. I know my faith. You don`t come telling me and threaten me and everyone else as if we`re the demons.


REID: Last I checked, contracting COVID has nothing to do with faith or morals. But what is moral is trying to protect the health of your fellowmen, women and child by getting vaccinated. And what seems rather immoral is that 666,000 Americans have died during the pandemic, meaning, 1 in every 500 Americans has perished from the virus, and that they`re still dying after a vaccine came to exist that could have kept them alive.

If members of the America`s new death cult, these hardcore anti-vaxxers, don`t check their own morals and do the right thing, that number will continue to rise. And we continue to see devastating and tragic real-world consequences. An unvaccinated mother who died before even getting to hold her infant son, she thought COVID wasn`t that real of a virus, and Texas four-year-old who died after contracting COVID from her unvaccinated mom. Heartbreaking stories that underscore the reality that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it`s still crushing hospitals.

This week, Alaska`s largest hospital that that it will begin rationing care amid an overload of COVID patients. It joins Idaho, where parts of the state were already rationing care. This week, a proudly unvaccinated doctor who once referred to the vaccine as needle rape, seriously, began work with a public health board. And, today, amid Idaho`s worst COVID surge yet, officials said that hospitals may start rationing care there as well, and underscoring just how the simple fact of getting vaccinated impacts your fellowmen.

In Washington State, Idaho`s crisis is already becoming their crisis as already stripped (ph) Washington hospitals face an influx of patients from across the state line.

With me now is Justin Gill, Urgent Care Nurse Practitioner and Vice President of the Washington State Nurses` Association Board of Directors, and Tim Miller, Writer at Large for The Bulwark. Thank you all for being here.

So, Idaho`s hospitals are also overwhelmed. We have a piece from NPR talking about the fact that their hospitals are totally overrun but there`s still a lot of skepticism of the vaccine, so people are not getting vaccinated. And look at the vaccination rates in Idaho. It`s among the lowest in the country. Only 40 percent of Idahoans have been vaccinated. It`s among the lowest, the lowest being, of course, Alabama. And now, they are overrunning hospitals in your state. Talk about what you`re seeing on the ground.

JUSTIN GILL, HEALTH POLICY LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON BOTHELL: Well, thank you, Joy, for having this evening. I think that that`s definitely a stark reminder of the situation that we`re in. This pandemic, it affects every single one of us. But it affects your neighbors, it affects all of the other folks who are fully vaccinated that are seeking care or need emergency care, or need heart surgery, or need a workup for a heart attack or a stroke.

So, this pandemic really has highlighted the fact that we`re all connected with our healthcare, but that our own individual actions can actually help save lives and people that we don`t even know down the road.

REID: Yes.

GILL: I see on my day-to-day practice in my urgent care. We`re seeing patient volumes that have increased 100 percent, 150 percent. It`s impacting a lot of us on the frontline.

And we`re happy to help other people from other states, but it`s definitely turning into something that everybody really needs to have all hands on deck and get vaccinated.

REID: Yes. And, Tim, I hear this all the time and see it all the time on social media who were saying, well, what does my anti-vax status have to do with you? Why should you care if I don`t get vaccinated? Well, why everyone should care is if you have a heart attack or a stroke and you can`t get a hospital bed or can`t get into the E.R. and can`t get treated because all of the beds are all filled with COVID patients who are unvaccinated, that`s what matters to everyone, because everyone is impacted.


And yet you have now this like actual kind of cult of anti-vaxirism. It`s become a hardcore ideology. You have people calling themselves true bloods, pure bloods on TikTok. This is a real thing, calling themselves pure bloods, like they`re characters in Harry Potter. That`s the trend now, is for people to take pride in being unvaccinated and consider it some sort of resistance. What do we do about that?

TIM MILLER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: For starters, that (INAUDIBLE) reading another book besides other Harry Potter. There is other material out there for reading. And, look, here is the thing that`s really frustrating. It is not only the downstream effects, as he brought up in Idaho, but this kind of victimization culture that you`re seeing on the right, and I think you see it on the anti-vax across the board.

And when you see people send out a tweet that`s like, oh, Joy Reid and MSNBC guys are looking down on us for being unvaccinated, they`re making fun of us, I`m sorry. You are not the victim, GOAT Man, or Tucker Carlson, or J.D. Vance, or Alex Berenson or Nicki Minaj. You are not the victim. Those kids that you showed on the intro who lost their mothers, who didn`t do anything, they are the victims. And they are being victimized by people like Tucker Carlons and J.D. Vance and others who are spreading misinformation knowingly they know better there`s (INAUDIBLE) because they`re greedy, because they want attention, because they`re sociopathic, I don`t know. But that is leading to real downstream consequences we`re seeing and Idaho other places. And it`s sad and it`s really -- it makes me upset, actually.

REID: No, me too because -- and I think you`re absolutely. And, Justin, I`ll come back to you on that because we are seeing a lot of whining from people who don`t want to get vaccinated and feel that they`re being trampled on, discriminated against. They`ve tried to liken themselves to black people in the 1950s who couldn`t eat in a restaurant.

That`s how far this is going and trying to sort of drag the civil past into their struggle, which what is their struggle again? They feel they have a right to spread a deadly disease, like they might as well have the measles blankets in the 1600s and say, I have a right to throw it on you. And they`re saying that if you don`t want me to do that, if you don`t let me do that, then somehow I`m the victim.

I wonder if in sort of the hospital culture, are you seeing a shift in people who then get COVID, are people having to come to Jesus moment in these hospitals or are they still going all the way to their deaths believing that they are only -- that the real victimization here is that they were being told to get vaccinated?

GILL: That`s an excellent point, Joy. And I would say it depends when they find out that they`re COVID positive or when they`re sent to the hospital.

I just had a conversation with a nurse that works in ICU, one of them that mentored me when I first started my nursing. Her and her colleagues have nightmares about switching somebody from nasal cannula to a BiPAP machine, which forces air down into their lungs. They have nightmares about setting up an, iPad having children cry on the iPad, saying goodbye to their parents and they have to walk out.

When we look at victims, when we look at the health care force that`s been battered by this virus for one-and-a-half years, and I think that when people realize the consequence for themselves, in general, when it comes to health care there always seems to be some clarity in hindsight. But this is really a time that challenges us to have clarity and foresight and be able to look ahead and say, I can see the consequence for this and what can I do not just to protect myself, my grandmother, my son, my spouse, my loved one. What can I do to help my neighbor?

And, honestly, if you`re even just looking at it selfishly and looking at it just for yourself, if you ever need care, if you get in a car accident and we get to that crisis standard, where health care services have to be rationed or strategically put out, that could affect the care that you get. So, it`s a win-win both for you as a patient as well as for the community members that you live with.

REID: And, Tim, it`s a sad point where we have to now sort of appeal, I am randy and selfishness of people to get them to do something that is not only simply but free. And I think sort of the kind of the king of that right now at this point is Ron DeSantis, who`s built an entire political brand around refusing to stop COVID from killing Vietnam War-era levels of people in his state. He`s built his brand, saying he just won a federal case, an appeal, in which parents of disabled kids were suing, saying, your mask mandate ban could put our kids at risk of dying, and he said, so what? You were not going to let them have mask mandates in these schools.


Your kids have to subject themselves to COVID. Screw you, essentially.

Let me play a little bit of him. This is the lie that he allowed to happen in a press conference with him about RNA. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one should tell you what to put in your body. I choose what goes in my body.

The vaccine changes your RNA. So, for me, that`s a problem.


REID: That is not true. And then he later pretended he doesn`t even remember hearing that. Oh, I don`t remember hearing him say that. It`s nothing I said. He just brushes that off. But he allowed that to go across in a press conference while he was standing right there and didn`t correct it, because he wants people who think to vote for him if they stay alive long enough. Your thoughts.

MILLER: Yes. No, that`s exactly right. Florida had a number of 50,000 deaths today. They were kind of in the middle of the pack actually in the country, as far as deaths per capita, and they`ve skyrocketed now. I think they`re at 11th now. And all of that rise has happened since we`ve had a vaccine.

And Ron DeSantis, they tried to have it both ways. He tries to say, well, I got vaccinated, and that`s true, he did, but people should have freedoms. And I want to say a good faith person who is actually pro-life, who cares about the life of the people in his state, but also does care about protecting freedoms, he would have a press conference that would say something like, I`m not going to mandate this in my state. But you absolutely need to get vaccinated and here are ten experts telling you why you should get vaccinated, right?

That would be disagreement I can have with him that is in good faith. Instead, he`s having a press conference with anti-vaxxers spreading crazy stuff and giving them a platform. So that is how he`s trying to earn and coddle the anti-vax vote and stay popular in case Donald Trump has a heart attack or something and he can run in 2024, but it`s absolutely shameful, it`s not pro-life and I think that you can see right through what the strategy is just based on that press conference.

REID: Yes. And, again, it`s going to require the people who listen to him to stay alive long enough to vote for him in 2024. It`s a pretty hell of -- it`s a hell of a big gamble.

Justin Gill, Tim Miller, thank you both very much.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, growing security preparations ahead of Saturday`s rally in support of alleged insurrectionists. But for now, it`s looking like the worst of the worst may state away, believing it`s all one big government setup.

And legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Rasheda Ali join us to discuss their new film on the life of the great Muhammad Ali.

Plus, the latest on the ongoing saga of Nicki Minaj`s vaccine hesitancy as the White House offers up an olive branch.

And tonight`s absolute worst seemed to have forgotten what the word, traitor, actually means.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: You`re looking at the fencing that was put back up around the U.S. Capitol overnight, a protective measure in advance of Saturday`s Justice for J6 protest, which unbelievably is being organized in support of the jailed insurrectionists. While only about 700 people are expected to attend, authorities are taking no chances, especially given a report that extremists could be plotting to commit violence.

However, a new reporting from NBC suggests that some of those extremists are suddenly getting cold feet. According to online chatter on far-right chat forums, they`re now insisting without evidence that the event is a secret government plot. They largely believe the event to be a setup for a false flag event or honey pot, in which they`ll be entrapped and coerced to commit violence by federal agents.

Now, as laughable as that is, we`ve heard the same conspiratorial excuse from the violent extremist group, the Proud Boys, were publicly discouraging their members from attending. So it might not be a high turnout this Saturday despite the fact that Donald Trump and the sedition caucus of party have been stoking this movement for months now.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The people who breached the Capitol on January 6 are being abused.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): The DOJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And how come so many people are still in jail over January 6th.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): We have in this city political prisoners held hostage by their government.

REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): The reason why they`ve taken these political prisoners is because they`re trying to make an example.


REID: Given the choice between their country and domestic terrorists who tried to overthrow it, they threw in their lot with the terrorists. But, apparently, even terrorist sympathizers have boundaries. And as of yesterday, none of them had confirmed their attendance to Saturday`s rally, according to The New York Times.

With me now is New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg and Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent and MSNBC National Security Analyst.

And, Michelle, I want to start with you. Donald Trump released a statement today saying the insurrectionists are being persecuted, but he also publicly called Saturday`s rally a setup in an interview with The Federalist. So, he`s trying to have it both ways. What do you make of this sort of petering out of what had been this idea that they were going to come and avenge the insurrectionists?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I would say a couple of things. I mean, first, I think that what looks like is going to be the middling size of this thing shows that in order for these rallies to get really big, it helps to have the support of Republican officeholders, right? I think it`s very possible that the rally at January 6, if you hadn`t had Donald Trump stoking it, if you hadn`t had members of Congress speaking there, would also not have been such a mass event.

The other thing is that January 6 wasn`t just a protest, they were trying to do something. Donald Trump was trying to do something. He was trying to physically stop the counting of the votes and the certification of the election. And so, Republicans have much less to gain from sort of throwing in their lot with something that is going to incite a lot of political blowback because they`re not actually trying to accomplish, they`re just trying to -- it`s just a show of solidarity with their base.

And they can do that by putting out statements they don`t have to speak at this rally.

REID: Yes. And, Clint, there`s been a reporting that Trump is concerned that if anything goes bad it will be associated with him, that the press will blame it on him. And then, there seems to be some nervousness among you know elected officials and former elected officials that in the case of Trump, that, if this thing goes, you know, the way that January 6 went, it`ll all blow back on them.


And some of these organizers seem to be feeling the same way. So, according to "The Hill," one of the organizers -- or the organizer of this rally, has told people don`t wear pro-Trump clothing.

"We request that anybody attending our events not wear any clothing or have signs supportive of Trump or Biden. Anyone not honoring this request will be assumed to be an infiltrator."

What do you make of the fact that they`re trying to sort of go incognito?

CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, it`s interesting that they want to be there and they don`t want to be there. They want to take credit, they want to fund-raise, but they also don`t want any blowback.

And so the problem with this entire plan, essentially, with these rallies and protests, is ultimately someone, an extremist, usually, or a core of extremists, like we saw, the militia groups on January 6, takes it to the next level.

They do things like breach the Capitol, and it turns a protest into an insurrection. And then who`s to blame? Well, it is the elected leaders that were speaking out in the lawn. It was all of those individuals that you showed in the lead-up here, Joy, who all are dancing around it, right?

They danced with the devil at one point. They say, oh, we have got to free all of our so-called political prisoners, and, at the same time, I`m not going to be there for you.

Well, ultimately, what will happen is, someone will move forward, someone will strike. And we have seen it over the last four to five years. Almost every single time we have seen an attack from a white supremacist or a militia group, where does it trace back to? A target that was designated or picked by Donald Trump in some speech, somebody he doesn`t like, someone from the GOP that is being maligned.

That`s where the focus is. And so there`s, there`s no irony about why it happened. We know why it happened.

REID: Yes.

You know, Michelle, one of the things that`s been interesting -- and I wonder what your take is on this -- is just how little information I feel that we have gotten about January 6 still. We know so little, relative to other terrorist attacks, where we have been able to get so much information so quickly.

And so I have been fascinated by the reports that have been coming out of the disciplinary reports -- of the disciplinary action that was taken against some officers.

Here is one thing. "The Miami Herald" is reporting. So one Capitol Police officer who is facing disciplinary action told investigators that he posed for a photo. One of the people who posed for the selfies claimed that they did it in order to identify him later, except the officer used the insurrectionist`s phone.

So I don`t know how he would have done that. And he never told that to his supervisor. He only told it to the FBI.

You have got another officer who`s facing disciplinary action for improper dissemination of information. This one stems from a conversation the officer had with a friend the week of the riot that he allegedly revealed information about the secure location that he helped evacuate lawmakers to.

The friend called the FBI tip line and expressed concerns to the agent -- expressed concerns that he had, that the agent had subscribed to Trump`s election conspiracy theories and was a conspiracist.

So I ask you, and then I have a question the same vein for Clint, what do you make of the lack of information that I feel we have been subjected to, no daily press conferences, not a lot of info? But we`re now getting dribs and drabs about some of the officers who took the wrong side that day.

GOLDBERG: I think that a lot more information will come out once the January 6 commission gets up and rolling and starts holding hearings.

I think a lot of the -- there`s something tantalizing in just their document requests, right, that they`re looking for any sort of information about or orders to circumvent or people discussing how to circumvent orders from the president.

They`re looking for people in the government communicating about QAnon, about the Proud Boys. And so I think they`re trying to -- they have got all these requests out. They`re trying to amass a huge amount of information.

And we`re going to eventually have a better idea of just how much Donald Trump knew about what exactly was planned, just how much anxiety and certain precautions were being taken by those who maybe supported him, but didn`t want to foment a full-blown insurrection.

You`re right. Now it`s fairly opaque. And part of the reason it`s opaque is that we have one political party that still is fully in support of the insurrection, right? So this is -- this is not like an investigation of September 11, where you have a whole-of-government response to it.

This is basically one political party is being forced to investigate another.

REID: Yes, it`s -- we`re even learning more about Mike Pence`s sort of duplicity on the matter.

And, Clint, I wonder if these kinds of reports are going to also or should, in your view, prompt a closer look at the ties, because Trump drew real close ties to law enforcement. That was part of his brand. We knew -- we have heard little dribs and drabs about the Proud Boys getting real friendly treatment from police agencies around the country in Philadelphia and other places.

Do you think that we now need to also have that separate conversation? Because we`re now for the first time seeing police organize ahead of a march the way they would if Black Lives Matter was coming to Washington, D.C. They`re now organizing like that for a group of largely white protesters.


So, do you think we need to have that conversation too about how deeply organizations like the 3 Percenters and the Proud Boys have infiltrated police?

WATTS: I do.

I think part of the phenomenon we`re seeing is that there are many active FBI investigations. There`s lots of prosecutions under way. Those all open up avenues for collecting evidence. And so I think some of the committee and the commissions that you hear about, the reason they`re delayed is they don`t want to get too far out in front of what the FBI is doing, because they`re going to find so much more evidence and be able to grab so much more evidence that can connect a lot of these things behind the scenes.

We have already seen that with the Oath Keepers, some of their ties that look like they may connect with a lot of the political campaigns or the figures in Congress. So I think that`s part of the reason they`re slowing that down.

And that also comes -- if you remember, during the Russia investigation of the Senate, they had to go slow to wait for Mueller to sort of push forward, because he just has more investigative capability. I think it will come to pass. And, ultimately, it`s going to be those communications between the White House and Congress, between Congress and the protesters and the White House and protesters.

That`s where we`re all going to come back to at some point. And I think the bigger picture, whether it`s the Department of Defense, General Milley, the Department of Justice and the absolute insanity that was going on there, the FBI probably just trying to stay intact and make it through January 6, we`re ultimately going to find that we`re lucky that we got through that day, I think, on January 6.

REID: Yes, indeed.

We will have those investigations so long as the Congress remains in the control of the party that actually cares about democracy and is opposed to insurrections. If it flips, whole different scenario.

Michelle Goldberg, Clint Watts, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: One of the best-known filmmakers of the 20th century joins us to talk about his new documentary on one of the best-known sports icons of the 20th century, the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali.

Stay right there.




ROBERT LIPSYTE, JOURNALIST: He went down, and the cop in the basement was this Joe Martin, who was running a little boxing school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cassius told the story years later that, for a minute, he forgot about his bike, because the sight of his boxing gym, the smell of the leather and the sweat and the excitement, the action of boys in a ring hitting each other, black and white, together.

LIPSYTE: And he reported the crime, and I`m going to get the guy. I`m going to kill him. And Joe Martin said, well, do you know how to fight?



REID: And the rest, as they say, is history.

That was a scene from the upcoming four-part PBS documentary series "Muhammad Ali," featuring one of the most iconic and consequential figures of the 20th century. Young Cassius Clay from Louisville, who later became Muhammad Ali and a three-time heavyweight boxing champion, captivated billions of fans with his power in and out of the ring.

This series kicks off Sunday. And we cannot wait.

Joining me now, one of the directors of the new series, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and Rasheda Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, who`s also featured in the documentary.

I`m so excited to have you guys on. I cannot wait to watch this film.

Rasheda, your dad is my all-time hero. My mom and I watched all of his fights in my era. I don`t go all the way back to the beginning, let me just be clear. We`re talking about it in the `80s, up until he retired.


REID: But my mother just absolutely loved him. And I loved him too.

Tell me, what will people learn that`s new in this documentary that you`re excited about?

RASHEDA ALI, DAUGHTER OF MUHAMMAD ALI: Well, first of all, Joy, it`s good to see you again. Thanks for having us on the show.

Every time I watch the documentary, I get chills, because it`s such a beautiful depiction. And I have to say that Ken and Sarah Burns and David McMahon did an incredible job with capturing my dad`s very complex history, without losing the essence of who he truly was as a person. His goodness, his kindness shine through.

And, again, when you`re watching, a lot of people think they know a lot about my dad. And I will be honest with you. I have seen bits and pieces from the documentary that I didn`t even know. So, like, there were -- family footage that I have never seen before of me and my mom and my dad and four kids just hanging out at the house.

It was -- it brought tears to my eyes, because to see my dad as a boxer, that`s one thing. And most people have probably seen all the footage from that part of his life. But, as we all know, that`s a short part of his life, because most of his life, he`s a civil rights activist, he`s a poet, he`s a humanitarian, he`s a father, he`s a husband, he`s a brother, he`s a friend.

So -- and he combated Parkinson`s. So you`re seeing all these really -- aspects of my dad`s life unfold in front of your eyes.

REID: Yes.

ALI: And I want to thank Ken Burns, Sarah for allowing my dad to control the narrative, instead of them controlling it.

REID: Yes.

And I have to say, Ken Burns, I`m a huge fan of yours and your filmmaking. So I am excited to talk to you today.

I want to play a little bit. This is a talking about the activist part of what Rasheda Ali just said and the impact of Muhammad Ali as an activist. Take a look. Take a listen.


HOWARD BRYANT, WRITER: Muhammad Ali was an activist who fought to reach us a certain way and to move America in a certain way, to move individuals in a certain way: I`m going to take this path. I believe that I`m right. And even if I`m not right, I`m still me.

And to be able to follow that, and to know that there was going to be an enormous price to pay for that, and to have that be generational, to have that live on beyond you is extremely valuable.


REID: Ken Burns, you have documented so many important figures in American history.

What do you -- what -- in your view, what is most important about Muhammad Ali?



He`s one of the biggest, most wonderful human beings I have ever gotten to know. He`s larger than life. It`s his -- his flaws are big. His strengths are big. This is a story about freedom, which is incredibly hard to achieve if you`re a black person in the United States on this continent anytime since 1619 on.

It`s about courage, not just inside the ring -- this is a very difficult sport to play -- but outside of the ring and the stance he took, particularly about Vietnam, but in other places, as Rasheda alluded to with regard to Parkinson`s and that multidecade struggle that he had there, but yet his reach was getting farther.

And it is about the four-letter word that the FCC allows you and me to say, Joy, but we have a hard time really talking about, which is love. I mean, this guy touches every single aspect of the late 20th century, from the role of sports, the role of black athletes, to ideas of black masculinity and manhood, to civil rights, to politics, to faith, to war, to sex.

All of those things are contained, and they`re all things that are happening today. So, when we cut away from Howard Bryant there at the end, we`re moving to a young woman marching in protest across the Brooklyn Bridge. We don`t deliberately show you what the protest is. But all she thinks she needs to come to that protest is a simple black T-shirt with white letters with two words that say "Muhammad Ali."

It means freedom. It means courage. It means love.

REID: Amazing.

Let me play one more clip. This is Muhammad Ali with Malcolm X in Ghana. Take a look.


NARRATOR: In Accra, the capital of Ghana, thousands gathered at the airport to catch a glimpse of the world`s new heavyweight champion.

Outside his hotel, Ali heard a familiar voice. Brother Muhammad called Malcolm X, who was on his own overseas tour. He greeted Ali enthusiastically. "I still love you," he told the boxer.

"You left the Honorable Elijah Muhammad," Ali said. "That was the wrong thing to do."

There was little else to say. Malcolm walked away.


REID: That is so awesome.

So, my uncle Benny (ph) was at the Rumble -- the Rumble in the Jungle in the Congo. So, he told me so many amazing stories about just the feeling that Muhammad Ali produced internationally for the diaspora.

BURNS: That`s right.

REID: And, Rasheda, I will throw that to you first, and then you, Ken.

The bigger picture of what he accomplished, what do you think is his great legacy beyond boxing?

ALI: Well, that`s tough, Joy.

I think his biggest accomplishment was his ability to unapologetically and sincerely devoted his entire life to his faith and to follow it to the end of time. And with that became his love for people. And serving others is what he did with his life.

In and out of the ring, all he thought about and talked about was how he was going to free his people and to make people feel special. And he did that.

REID: Yes.

And I have -- one selfish question for you, Ken Burns, as an aspiring documentarian myself. What -- how do you choose the projects that you decide to commit to? Because you do such amazing work. How do you pick the next thing?

BURNS: In some ways Joy, the facile, glib response is to say they pick us. We`re just interested in good stories.

And Sarah Burns, my oldest daughter and her husband, David McMahon, and I have been working on this for years and years and years. And we`re with PBS, which allows us to deep-dive, to spend seven years, to discover the footage that even Rasheda doesn`t know of her daddy talking to her.

This is an amazing person who transcends the particular sport that he was involved in and gave us a kind of method of dealing with the problems. This is -- we`re in the middle of the struggle still, and he`s a good guidepost to all of that.

I mean, you just -- you love him, warts and all, and it`s -- to me, I`m more -- I can`t think of a more satisfying experience that we have had as filmmakers than trying to wrestle this complex story to the ground.

And, of course, people like Rasheda, who are in the film, and who -- she carries -- particularly she carries the spirit of her father everywhere, give us a chance to understand this amazing American. If I were given a chance to go to dinner with a couple of people that I have gotten to know over the almost 50 years that I have been doing this, it would be Louis Armstrong and Muhammad Ali.

Abraham Lincoln a kind of distant third. I`m not sure he`d say much. He would tell some jokes.


BURNS: But to have Louis Armstrong and to have Muhammad Ali would just be the gift of all gifts.

And they are as American as anything.

REID: Yes.

BURNS: And I think this is the important thing.

What he did was as a black man. And he did not forget where he came from.

REID: Amen.

BURNS: He achieved freedom, which is tough, but he didn`t forget to pull everyone else along.


And everyone around the world felt -- anybody who felt the boot of the man felt that he was speaking for them. And when he goes -- and Rasheda and I can do this in unison -- "I have had 180 amateur fights. I have had 22 professional fights, and I`m pretty as a girl."

ALI: "And I`m pretty as a girl."


BURNS: What he was saying is, black is beautiful.

REID: Yes.

BURNS: And people responded to that.

And he changed the whole dynamic. And everything is sort of before Ali and after Ali.

REID: Yes.

I am so excited to see this film. First of all, I want to come to that fictional dinner. If that ever happens, I`m going to Bogart that dinner.


REID: Rasheda, listen, my -- one of my favorite names is Rasheda, because every Rasheda I know, and even -- and I work for one -- I love them all, because you all are all amazing. This is just a name for amazing women.


REID: I love you, guys, both. Thank you.

ALI: Thank you.

REID: Ken Burns, I`m a fan. Rasheda Ali, I`m a fan. Thank you, all, both very much.

"Muhammad Ali" premieres this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on PBS. Can you tell I`m excited? Don`t miss it.

And up next: The misinformation struggle continues, as many people, celebrities and government officials, weigh in on rapper Nicki Minaj and her unfortunate cousin`s friend.

We will be right back.



REID: It`s unfortunate that we have reached the point, this point as a country where I have to say this, but here we go.

Just to be clear, the COVID vaccine has never been shown to swell up your manly nether bits. Nor is it dangerous. And why are we having this rather awkward discussion?

Well, as I`m sure you have heard and seen on social media by now, rapper Nicki Minaj put some unfortunate misinformation out there about the vaccine for her tens of millions of followers to see. She said she wouldn`t get vaccinated until she did her research and then added in a second tweet that her cousin`s friend in Trinidad and Tobago became impotent and got swollen cojones from the vaccine, causing his wedding to be canceled due to what one Trinidadian newsman termed a flat tire.

Now, we don`t know about the wedding situation, but the core of the misinformation and the danger that people might actually believe it and choose not to get vaccinated against COVID became so serious, the actual health minister of Trinidad and Tobago felt that he needed to address it.


TERRENCE DEYALSINGH, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO HEALTH MINISTER: It is, as far as we know at this point in time, there has been no such reported either side effect or adverse event.

And what was sad about this is that it wasted our time yesterday trying to track down, because we take all these claims seriously.


REID: That sounds like all my uncles.

Even U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson got involved, taking the opportunity to tell people to ignore the incorrect info and please get vaxxed.

In what is unfortunately now known as Ballgate -- yes, I had to say that on TV -- Ms. Minaj kept on tweeting, claiming the media, yours including -- yours truly included, misinterpreted what she said.

At one point, she said that she`d been invited to the White House .The White House denied that, saying they just offered to have her talk to a doctor, so she could have accurate information about the vaccines.

Then she claimed that she was in Twitter jail, which Twitter denied.

And, in fairness, she later in later tweets did add that she likely would get vaccinated after doing her research, because she, like millions of people, would have to in order to work. That is entirely accurate and legitimate. And, in fact, it`s why and how mandates work.

But the worst part of all this, honestly, is not even the personal attacks. The worst part is who is enjoying this so much, people like white nationalist-curious, Viktor Orban enthusiast, and no friend of hip-hop or nonwhite people, period, Tuckums Carlson.

Nicki Minaj endorsed this clip of his yesterday where he praises her for -- quote -- "enraging the political class."

And when people were spotted that she might not want to be associated with a white nationalist, she essentially gave in to the right`s favorite talking point, that somehow celebrities are not allowed to agree with Republicans.

She also tweeted: "You know how many of us -- how many U.S. presidents were white supremacists?"

Well, yes, yes, we do, a whole lot of them.

But what people like Tuckums and the Ben Shapiros and other right-wing bomb throwers want is not Nicki Minaj to have free speech. What they want is a vehicle to drag as many of her fans into their anti-vax camp as they can. They need and crave authentic members of the culture, hip-hop culture.

Let`s just be clear. They look down on that culture and hate that culture and would never, ever, ever support someone like Nicki Minaj, other than to pull her onto their team.

Case in point, Laura Ingraham once criticized President Obama for just meeting with Ms. Minaj, citing the profanity in her lyrics. But they need her right now. And let`s not forget the freak-out the right had over the "WAP" lyrics by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, or Lil Nas X for giving the devil a lap dance in a music video.

The right has no use for people in the culture until they`re useful for the purposes of hurting people in the culture.

And when we come back, Michael Eric Dyson will join me to discuss all of this.



REID: I am joined now by Michael Eric Dyson, distinguished professor of African-American studies at Vanderbilt University and author of the upcoming book "Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America," which will available on November 2.

Michael, my friend, I`m just going to let you talk, because this has been such a weird, traumatic experience, I think, for a lot of people watching this unfold.


REID: And I`m curious to get your take on this sort of misinformation, like, nightmare and the right`s use of it for their own purposes.

DYSON: Yes, well, thank you, Joy, so much.

I love and adore Joy Reid, the Nicki Minaj of black female journalists.


DYSON: Because Nicki Minaj is one of the greatest rappers ever.

REID: She is.

DYSON: And I love it appreciate her.

And there`s a third black woman, Kizzmekia Corbett, who came up with Moderna, the vaccine. So, three brilliant black women have in many ways led us along various paths of enlightenment.

I must say here, look, Nicki Minaj is right about being skeptical about scientific rationality. We know William Shockley won a Nobel Prize in 1956 for the transistor, but he started promoting eugenics. So science by itself, short of ethical insight and moral imperatives, is not great. She`s right about that.

He`s also right about the fact we don`t have universal health care in this nation. That`s absolutely right.

The problem, of course, is that when it comes to vaccine hesitancy, we understand millions of black people who are hesitant, given the kind of racist production of scientific discourse in America, but now we got a black woman leading the way with Moderna. We have got black people talking about the necessity of this vaccine.


And I think, after doing her research, even Kizzmekia Corbett said, I agree with Nicki Minaj. Do your research. But after you do your research, what do we find? This vaccine has been especially helpful, that Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have worked to protect black lives.

And we know that unvaccinated people die in disproportionate rates. And we know disproportionate numbers of African-American and Latinx people who are not vaccinated will be vulnerable to death.

So I beg and plead for people out there, yes, do your research, yes, do your scientific inquiry, but, at the end of the day, find out that, with Tuskegee, they were withholding medicine from us. with Moderna and Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, they`re trying to give us a vaccine that can help and protect us.

And I think that black people must use their common sense and their wits and their wisdom to understand we are in the midst of a pandemic. And we know the right wing, Tucker Carlson don`t give a flying flip about Nicki Minaj.

REID: Not at all.

DYSON: As you brilliantly said, they don`t care about hip-hop.

REID: They don`t.

DYSON: They don`t care about what we do in the culture at all.

And so, at the same time, we must not be used and abused by right-wing fanatics who are seeking to deploy the genius of blackness to undercut the lives of ordinary black citizens in this country. That`s why I stand with you all who support the right approach to this, taking seriously science and rationality in the service of morality and, in this case, the service of black survival.

REID: Right.

I mean, we -- this got to the point where National Action Network weighed in on it today.

DYSON: Right.

REID: Because this has become an unnecessary sort of side fight.

But the real fight is, I was at Melba`s, the wonderful Melba`s in New York, helping her do a pro-vaccination...

DYSON: Right.

REID: They rolled out. And the folks from Harlem Hospital came there. And I spoke with the then-CEO of Harlem Hospital, who said that, when they first rolled out the vaccine, the line outside of Harlem Hospital had almost no black people in it.

DYSON: Right.

REID: There were people coming from affluent communities all over New York to line up and get the vaccine. And she said, think about this for a second. If the vaccine was going to kill you, why are those affluent people come in here, and not our people?

The local people, the local folks in Harlem, were not coming. People were jumping in front of them in line and doing whatever they had to do and standing in line as long as they want to get it. Think about it. Why are they doing that if the vaccine is going to kill us?

DYSON: Absolutely correct.

REID: So I am challenged by the fact that we now have people loudly and proudly saying, I will never take the shot, and making that a cultural thing.

DYSON: Right.

REID: But they also probably don`t have health care.

So, if they get COVID, they`re probably not going to make it.

DYSON: That`s right.

REID: But wealthy people are going to make it. They`re not going to make it.

DYSON: That`s absolutely right.

And this is a such an important point to make. The reality is, is that the masses of black and brown and poor white people, for that matter...

REID: Yes.

DYSON: ... in this country ill not be serviced by a health care industry or a pharmaceutical industry -- pharmaceutical industry that has no ultimately productive or edifying intentions for the average person.

And if you go out there and playing risk, playing, in one sense, a kind of Russian revolver game with your life, the Russian roulette, the ultimate price may be your life.

The chicken and the egg are going down the street discussing, what are we going to get for breakfast? The chicken said, I`m going to give up an egg. The pig got to give up his behind in order to contribute to breakfast.

REID: That`s right.

DYSON: We are the pig in this case.

The test is whether we are willing to sacrifice our very lives for theories and conspiracies about what`s going on, as opposed to real science.

And, again, I appreciate and applaud Nicki Minaj for her hesitancy in saying, study. But when we study, after we do the scientific discourse, let`s conclude that black people do better when we are vaccinated. Let`s get vaccinated and have this conversation.

REID: Yes.

DYSON: Nicki Minaj says: When I go out on tour, I`m going to get back vaccinated.

REID: Going to have to.

DYSON: Because I have got to do that.

And I applaud her for that.

REID: And she was right. You`re going to have to. Exactly.

And, listen, I understand the hesitancy. Listen, I was hesitant when Donald Trump was out there controlling the CDC and controlling the FDA and manipulating them and making them put out falsehoods.

DYSON: Right. Right.

REID: Anybody rational was hesitant.

DYSON: You`re right.

REID: But the reality is now what we -- what I really fear is masses of -- more masses of people dying; 666,000 people have died.


REID: And, disproportionately, they look like you and me, Michael.


REID: And what scares me is that people are creating a cultural imperative to set themselves up for death, when the people pushing them to do it, like Tuckums, are vaccinated and safe, and, even if they got COVID, are going to get all the monoclonal antibodies.

They could give a damn if Nicki Minaj gets COVID and dies. They don`t care about us.

DYSON: You better.

REID: But they`re pushing us to fight each other, instead of fight COVID. That`s unacceptable to me.



REID: We`re out of time. I`m sorry. I done talked...


DYSON: To paraphrase my man Spike Lee, do the white thing.

And if you didn`t bring me no fried chicken from Melba`s, that`s a great sin right there.

REID: I`m going to correct that next time I`m in New York City, Michael Eric Dyson.

I appreciate you, my friend.


REID: I got you. I got you.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.