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Transcript: The ReidOut, December 10, 2020

Guests: Phil Murphy, Michelle Goldberg, Charlie Sykes, Jamil Smith, Mark Thompson, Naveed Jamali


FDA panel approves use of Pfizer Vaccine. Trump hosts Hanukkah party at the White House. Trump and allies reject science until they need it. Health care workers, nursing home residents will be first to receive Pfizer vaccine. COVID cases and hospitalizations rising in New Jersey. Pfizer vaccine moves one step closer to distribution. New jobless claims rise more than expected. Vaccine distribution plans standing by for FDA approval.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Join me then or set your DVR if you don't want to miss Dr. Fauci. You can always DVR us on your remote right now, search for Melber, and you won't missed any episodes of THE BEAT ever.

Thanks for joining us tonight. We'll see you back here then. Until then, stay tuned for THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: A massive development occurred this afternoon in the fight against COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory panel has formally recommended broad distribution of the Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., clearing the way for some health care workers and nursing home residents to begin to receiving the first shots early next week.

There is a lot that still unknown about this vaccine, the side effects, it's distribution and whether there's enough of it to go around, but it does mark a new chapter in an American tragedy that has destroyed far too many lives and is still far from over. The daily death counts these days are among the highest in this nation history, period.

Take a look at this list. These are the deadliest events that have occurred on U.S. soil, natural disasters, war, terrorist attacks and now COVID. Deaths from December 4th alone exceeded the death toll from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The COVID death toll from December 9th alone exceeded the death toll on 9/11. Four out of the top ten deadliest events were all within the last ten days.

Yesterday was the fourth deadliest day our country has ever seen. That day, December 9th, we lost more than 3,100 people.

And at the end of that terrible day, the president of this country, the president of the United States hosted a packed indoor Hanukkah Party, where, as you can see, some were wearing masks but certainly not adhering to social distancing inside the White House. Time and again, we are seeing two Americas and that divide has never appeared as stark.

But perhaps there's a reason why those in Trump's smaller, more privileged side of America do not fear the coronavirus. Because now, we've seen Trump and his pals, Chris Christie and Ben Carson, who admitted that Trump personally cleared him to receive the same therapy that Trump received, and most recently, Rudy Giuliani received VIP treatment when infected with COVID. Rudy even admitted it.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY (voice-over): I had very mild symptoms. I think if it wasn't me, I wouldn't have been put in the hospital.


GIULIANI: Frankly.

REPORTER: Yes, well I mean

GIULIANI: Sometimes, sometimes when you're, you know you're a celebrity, they're worried if something happens to you, they're going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right.


REID: Yes, when you're a star, they let you do it.

Now, compare that to the one in ten Americans, in the Midwest, south and southwest, who, per The New York Times, live in areas where intensive care beds are either completely full or were fewer than 5 percent of beds are available.

But Trump and his cronies, well, they have no interest in the muck and disorder of the underprivileged, the sick and the poor and those without health care, they're throwing a super-spreader events jet setting across the country and refusing to wear mask. They're bragging about traveling to see family for the holidays, harassing local leaders for attempting to implement life-saving measures, but most of all they're rejecting science until they need that very science to save their own skins.

Joining me now is New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, and Dr. Lipi Roy, Internal Medicine Physician and Michelle Goldberg, Columnist for The New York Times.

And, you know, I'm going to start with you, Governor. Because we have now had a vaccine approved. And, okay, the vote went through day. But it's not even clear that everyone will even have access to it. And what we have seen so far is that elite Americans, people who are friends of the president, get special access, including former Governor Chris Christie, who got an Eli Lily treatment before it was even approved by the FDA, Ben Carson saying that Trump intervened and cleared him personally to get the Regeneron cocktail that saved Trump's life, you got Rudy Giuliani getting admitted to the D.C. hospital with mild symptoms, and still receiving one of the only 108 treatments Regeneron treatments that D.C. obtained for its own residents, none of whom are Rudy Giuliani, he doesn't even live in D.C.

I worry, and I'm not wondering if you're worried that the rank and file ordinary people of your state in New Jersey, where you have already seen 15,740 people die, where you've got nearly 400,000 cases, are you worried that we're going to now having a rationing by the rich to get the treatments and to get special care?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Good to be with you, Joy. That won't happen in New Jersey. It hasn't happened as it relates to access to health care or testing and it certainly won't happen with vaccine distribution. We'll start with health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. And then we will move out from there with the focus on essential workers, frontline workers, vulnerable communities.

That's not to say the disadvantaged communities have not paid a higher price, especially brown and black communities, because they have. COVID-19 may not have created these inequities, but it certainly laid them bare, and shame on us to have to live through what we have just lived through every again.

So one of the big objectives for us in our state is to learn from what we've gone through and make sure as we get through the pandemic, including the vaccine and then as we rebuild our state and our economy, that we address those inequities once and for all. And we are committed to that.

REID: And I just want to put these numbers back up again from your state. There has been a spike as in many parts of the country since Thanksgiving in New Jersey. You've 5,370 new positive cases. The cumulative count is 386,606. You've got 68 new confirmed deaths over 15,000 people have died.

How are you communicating with the people in your state and how is that communication changed over time? Because right now, it seems a lot of people just aren't listening. They're not listening to the guidelines. They're doing whatever they want, and in some cases, insisting on their right to infect other people and not wear masks and not social distance.

MURPHY: Yes, I mean, Joy, you're right. There's a lot of -- there's a combination of things right now that that's lethal. It's cold. So, what we were doing outside three months ago, we're inside. It's holiday season. There's enormous pandemic fatigue. Even from good hearted folks who are trying to do the right thing for the beginning, there's a lot of private setting transmission. So, there's no amount of enforcement that law enforcement or otherwise that can get into every living room.

And then that as you rightfully point out, this has been politicized when it should be about science. That combination, I think, means that we're in for a tough next probably six-plus or minus weeks.

The vaccine news is great. It's real. That's going to come. Thank God, the weather will ultimately be getting warmer. The curve will run its course. But we're going to pay an enormous price, sadly, between now and then. And we just got to hope that folks bear is down and don't let their guard down.

REID: I wonder if you have a message for the politicians in D.C, who are still not coming through with a benefits bill, COVID benefits bill, despite the fact that our new weekly initial jobless claims, they've hit 853,000. They expected 730,000. Do you have any message for Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin and the president?

MURPHY: Listen, we need it desperately. We need federal stimulus. And we need it at a very beg number. Whether or not listen, I'll take whatever they can give us. But whether you are unemployed or you're a small business person, or you run a restaurant, you own a restaurant, or you have lost a loved one, or you're a state trying to keep as many people employed at the frontlines, like firefighters, police, health care workers, educators or a local government. There are many, many reasons why we need a big statement out of Washington that meets this moment.

I personally think, Joy, this is a $3 plus trillion need right now. If we get a billion of that now and the rest of it soon, I guess we can live with that. But I would say the longer this goes on, the bigger the price tag, the more the suffering sooner than later bigger than smaller. History will not be unkind to us if we overshoot. It will be devastating through human suffering if we undershoot and don't meet the moment.

REID: Yes, indeed. Hopefully, some folks in D.C. are listening and not off on vacation. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, thank you so much, sir, stay safe. Thank you

MURPHY: Thank you very much, Joy.

REID: All right. Let's bring in our other two members. Cheers, Thank you very much.

So, Dr. Lipi Roy, you know, we are seeing this surge happening but there is this hope on the horizon. You did have this vote for a vaccine to, you know, sort of fast track it and allow people to get it. It was 17-4 vote, one person abstained. Are you concerned that this idea of the vulnerable getting it first won't hold and that what we're seeing in terms of the treatment for COVID where you have seen the elite, the people who are friends of the president, be able to push themselves to the front of the line, that this idea of treating the vulnerable won't hold and the same thing will happen when it comes to the vaccine?

DR. LIPI ROY, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, happy Thursday, Joy. Yes, it's stories like that where you see the wealthy and the privileged and the politically powerful getting the specialized treatment that, frankly, the rest of the country aren't getting. It's stories like that that unfortunately will reinforce the stigmatizing attitudes and that communities of color already have that are most marginalized communities have. So, we in the health care community, as well as other communities, have to work all the harder to combat those ideas, that only the wealthy are going to get the evidence-based treatments.

So right now, we need to focus on the three preventive measures. It's three, right? It's now not only masks and physical distancing, and hand hygiene, but really now the vaccine. This is good news. But the task is going to be to make sure that we get -- we use evidence and tried and true measures to make sure that marginalized communities get these vaccines. And how do you do that? It's going to be a collaborative effort, partnership between the most trusted and most knowledgeable.

In my opinion, that's going to be three groups of people. It's going to be identifying the most trusted in the communities, could be clergy, pastor, barbershop owners, community activists, as well as the most trusted professional in the world, which is nurses. It could be nurses or community health care workers, public health professionals that are really trained.

And then third, Joy, we need celebrities that are trusted and admired and respected in those communities. You had this wonderful conversation with Leslie Jones. I mean, I fell off my chair. But these are people who are -- they're funny, they are talented but they're also very smart. And they are -- they know that people are deeply suffering right now.

So, it's going to be a collaboration, a multi-visionary (ph) approach and a collaboration and partnership in order to reach the most vulnerable communities, Joy, and has to continue beyond COVID-19. We have to make sure that they're getting treated for breast cancer and heart attacks and strokes and sickle cell disease. That what needs to happen, Joy.

REID: Indeed. But, you know, the challenge is, Michelle, you know, we spoke yesterday, and experts are saying there may not be enough vaccine for everyone, right? The Trump administration already underordered what was available what they could have ordered. They have already underdone that. And then there's going to be a global demand.

And you know how this goes. The rich will shove themselves forward. They'll shove the poor people on the ground and stomp over them, saying, no, this is coming to us. The NBA will probably get it. And then, hopefully, the union will make sure the families of NBA players will assume are not rich, that the player's families aren't, maybe they can get it too. But there is going to be a hierarchy.

I just want to play for you. Let's just show this. This is Lamar Alexander, a United States senator playing holiday music in the Russell Rotunda. To me, this just epitomizes where we are as a country. You know, the rich and the privileged to free to play Christmas music in the Capitol while people are dying, instead of him passing a damn bill. That's what he is doing.

And we're -- you know I worry. Do you worry that we'll going have an oligarchic response when it comes to distributing the vaccine?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that -- I mean, I think that we will always have VIPs getting work around. You know, one of the things that what Giuliani did in terms of getting access to these monoclonal antibodies that ordinary people, if you show up in the emergency room, you are very unlikely to get them. And also, that he shouldn't have gotten just because the emergency use authorization for these monoclonal antibodies specifically says that they're not for use in hospitalized patients, right? They're for used in patients that could become sick enough to be in the hospitalized.

So, already, we know that somebody was bending the rules to give this thing to him over and above the other kind of special privileges that he was boasting about on the radio.

I was talking to doctors today. I have a column about this coming up shortly. And they make the point that hospitals -- you know, in our poor profit health system, hospitals are multibillion-dollar businesses. Even when they're non-profits, they have a bottom line. Their finances are getting hit very hard because they're canceling elective surgeries and because they're having to treat a lot of COVID patients that are uninsured. And so, it puts them in even more of a position where they have to do favors for the rich and well-connected, right?

So, we already have this system with all of these pathologies, add to that COVID-19, where we have to be basically ration care, where we have (INAUDIBLE) to be some lifesaving drugs. And, you know, it just kind of increases the amount of corruption.

So, I think there're two scandals here, right? There's the scandal of an administration that uses its power and it's kind to make it a way to do lifesaving favors for friends of the president, and then there's the bigger scandal of our health care system.

REID: No, absolutely. Because we could have universal health care and then this wouldn't be an issue. But, right, it's rationed and it's going to get rationed to the rich. I mean, Giuliani is bragging about it. He's not pretending that that's not what's happening. And that is what's happening.

Dr. Lipi Roy and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Trump would rather destroy democracy than admit defeat.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we're going to win this election.


REID (voice-over): It's not courage man. It's cowardice that is driving 18 Republican state attorneys general to demand that the Supreme Court discard the votes in swing state cities where black voters swing elections.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Donald Trump's anti-democratic derangement is now running wild throughout the Democratic Party. Need proof? Today, 106 House Republicans signed on in support of killing democracy in Trump's Hail Mary attempt to overturn the election and save himself from the consequences of returning to civilian life without the legal protections of the presidency.

OK, and that's more than half of House Republicans, who are no longer even pretending to believe in democracy, asking the Supreme Court disenfranchise tens of millions of voters, including Republican voters, by the way, because they refuse to accept that black voters, along with brown and AAPI young voters and suburban Democrats in those states, elected Joe Biden, over the objections of a majority of white Americans, who supported Trump.

The decision to support Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's delusional lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to throw out all of the legal votes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin comes after Republican attorneys general from 17 red states filed an amicus brief in support of the "Looney Tunes" Texas lawsuit.

"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reported that Trump himself personally warned Georgia's attorney general not to rally support against it. And, today, Trump met with Ken Paxton and several other A.G.s. All but two are from state signing on to the Texas suit.

Donald Trump has already personally asked Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz to argue the case if the court hears the case that most legal experts say is hopeless. More than two dozen states filed motions against it.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the lawsuit a seditious abuse of the judicial process.

And, for more, I'm joined by the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and host of "POLITICS NATION" right here on MSNBC, and Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark.

And, Rev, this is nothing short, to me, of white nationalism in action in our political system. It's anti-democracy, but it's anti a specific kind of democracy. The guy who's leading, the newest lawyer involved in this, is a guy named John Eastman, a professor at Chapman University and a birther, who tried a birther attack on Kamala Harris.

They're only going after cities where there's a predominance of black voters and saying, that's where the fraud is. Am I wrong on this? Because I see this as a direct war against black voters.

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": You're absolutely right on this.

When you look at where they have methodically gone after black voting districts, black voting areas, they're not questioning all of the votes in a state or even a city, but they have targeted certain areas. They are directly trying to disenfranchise and criminalize black voters.

And we need to call it for what it is. This is a clear racist attempt to disenfranchise black voters by people that have celebrated the nutting of -- the nuking of the Voting Rights Act and the fact that we have not been able to pass the John Lewis Act.

So, they -- these state attorney generals that would have been subject to national clearance, judicial clearance, had we kept Section 4 and 5 in the Voting Rights Act, can now sit up in the White House and plan what is tantamount to the disenfranchisement of black voters.

It would have been barred if the Voting Rights Act was still in full effect.

REID: That is absolutely true.

And, Charlie, you have got these Republicans, including half of the caucus in the House, essentially saying, negate tens of millions of votes, just take them off the books...


REID: ... if those votes took place in cities where you have lots of black voters who voted for Biden.

But if you're black and you voted for Trump, we're good with you voting, but you must vote for Trump. You -- I mean, Lindsey Graham has said, if you're conservative, you're good. You can still participate and be part of democracy.

But, if you don't know, no, you don't get to do that. It's Dixiecrat thinking.

And just to back that up, here's Rush Limbaugh, who once called President Barack Obama a "Halfrican" and said that the Affordable Care Act was a version of a sneaky way of doing reparations and all sorts of other ways that he tried to trigger white voters against Barack Obama back in the day.

Here he is today talking like an old secessionist from the 1860s.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that we're trending toward secession.

I see more and more people asking, what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? We can't be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.


REID: You know, Charlie, you're right. There's not a lot in common. Blue states pay all the taxes, and red states eat them.

Blue states pay in more than they get back from the federal government, and are happy to do it, because we actually do have taxes in blue states. Red states are nine of the 10 taker states, where they have to take because they refuse to tax the rich in their states, because they want to be little banana republics.

So, I guess we don't have a lot in common. But that kind of talk is James Buchanan era talk from when Lincoln got elected.

SYKES: Yes. No, it is 1850s. And I'm glad that you mentioned that.

Look, but, by the way, if the Texas attorney general's lawsuit were to be successful, which it is not, because it is clownish, it is frivolous, it is a seditious abuse of due process, my vote would also be suppressed. My vote would be nullified, because I live in Wisconsin.

REID: That's right.

SYKES: So this is part of the evolution of the Republican Party and the right wing from being a political party into being a cult.

And they are willing, basically, to put Trump, Trump's needs over the Constitution, over democracy, over the needs of the country.

But Rush Limbaugh, now he's denying that he was actually in favor of secession, but he's playing with fire here, particularly at a moment where you have 17 states that are saying, yes, let's disenfranchise millions of voters from other states here.

So, isn't it interesting how quickly on the right during this Trumpian era we have moved from conservatives being all about patriotism and flag-waving and mandatory standing for the Pledge of Allegiance to maybe we ought to tear the country apart, maybe we ought to engage in sedition, maybe we don't want to be part of America.

Look, what do we have in common with people from New York? We are all Americans. And that didn't used to be controversial. It wasn't controversial until about five minutes ago. By the way, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are also from New York.

But what you're seeing here is a political party that is willing to throw democracy under the bus, is willing to wipe out the votes of tens of millions of Americans and is very consciously right now pitting Americans against one another.

So, Limbaugh may say, well, I'm not really serious about secession, I'm just saying what people say, but we're in a very, very dangerous era. And we're also just seeing, I mean, how much they are willing to sacrifice in order to keep Donald Trump in power.

And I have to say, Joy, that having been disillusioned over the last four years, and then watching the Republican Party commit one act of -- one act of disappointment after another, what happened today is still genuinely shocking, genuinely shocking to see more than 100 members of the House of Representatives sign onto a lawsuit that is, on one level, a complete legal joke, but, on another level, is a complete attack on the democratic constitutional process in this country.

REID: Well, it's not even just -- right. It's not even just that they have thrown out all the things they previously believed in, Rev.

They used to be states' rights people, but now they're saying they -- that Texas can lean into Wisconsin and take their votes away, that states can go to other states where they don't like the way that they did absentee balloting and say, no, we're going to disenfranchise in another state.

And you have got states that are receiving this aggression, saying, go ahead, take all our votes away. But I have to say, I'm old enough to remember that there were people that said they wanted to secede because President Obama got elected.

This is, like, not a new thing. This idea that, if black people want something, and they vote in this direction, and then they get their way, well, then it's completely invalid, that's all fraud.


REID: It's like this is, like, becoming a thing. It's not just Trump.

And you know what they have in common with Trump? Trump also agrees that the Confederacy should have won, apparently.


REID: So, they all agree.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean, first of all, Trump hung Andrew Jackson's picked up in the Oval Office. So, I mean, you don't have to guess where he's coming from when he put one of the most racist slave-owning president's pictures up in the Oval Office. He's telling you that his role model.

But for 17 state attorney generals to sit there and say, despite the fact that this man, in the Oval Office, lost the Electoral College vote and lost the popular vote -- he only won with the Electoral College vote -- we ought to disenfranchise them. Let's carve out the black areas, because that's where the crime is. So, let's go right into racial profiling, point one. Let's cut them out.

This is where the fraud was. Dead people voted, though we can't produce one dead person. There was all kind of rigged systems, but we can't show it.

And for them to use this and disenfranchise us, these are the same people that a month ago were saying make America great again. Now they're saying, let's leave America. That's the only way we're going to be great. This is classic white supremacy and trying to turn back into a system where blacks have no right that anyone's bound to respect. Even if you win an election, we will take that back, because you don't have the right to that.

Some of us are not going back.

REID: Exactly.

SHARPTON: You can turn back the clock, but you can't turn back time. We're not going back.

REID: That's absolutely right. Absolutely.

Rev, you have to promise to come back, because I really want to talk to you about that civil rights meeting and this situation with Vilsack, that nomination. So, please come back. We will do that a different time, because I ran out of time.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

REID: But, Charlie Sykes, thank you very much.

Rev, Charlie Sykes, great friends, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: The right-wing freak-out over the Reverend Raphael Warnock's faith, their fake outrage over so-called attacks on Christianity appears to have evaporated just in time for those crucial run-offs in Georgia.

Go figure.


REID: When Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court, Republicans immediately went after anyone who raised questions about her extremely doctrinaire ultra-right-wing Christian beliefs.

No one was allowed to question whether Ms. Coney Barrett's religious faith and the way she interprets the world because of it might impact her decisions on the court. It was a definite no-no.

The Republicans aren't bringing that same energy when it comes to defending the Christian faith of Reverend Raphael Warnock as he runs for a U.S. Senate seat out of Georgia.


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Many times, on the left, they don't like the fact that someone has faith.

I want to have my faith and you have your faith. And we actually express that, because that's who we are. And I -- and to attack someone on that, I think, will not play very well.

There is no such thing as a pro-choice pastor. What you have is a lie from the pit of hell. It is time to send it back to Ebenezer Baptist Church.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: So even though, on some level, Democrats understand rationally that it's a very bad idea to attack a woman for her family and for her religious faith, they can't help themselves.

For the past 15 years, Warnock used his platform as a pastor to condemn the United States and the people who live here.

SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): There's nothing the left hates more than strong conservative women who are unapologetic about their core values.

I don't need a lecture from someone who has used the Bible to not only justify attacking our military, but he's also used the Bible to justify abortion. I cannot stand by and let Georgians know -- not know who my opponent is, how radical his views are.


REID: Ah, hypocrisy.

Loeffler refers to a sermon that Reverend Warnock gave, noting that one cannot serve both God and the military. Now, he's quoting the actual Bible, Matthew 6:24, which says: "No one can serve two masters."

But that's not even the height of her hypocrisy when it comes to Reverend Warnock's faith.

And that is up next.


REID: Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler is running her Senate campaign by attacking Reverend Raphael Warnock as a, quote, radical liberal. But she was completely okay with the church where he's the senior pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, when it worked for her politically.

Earlier in year on MLK Day, with the supposedly radical Reverend Warnock sitting behind her, Loeffler spoke from the church's pulpit, a prized public relation spot for Republicans in both parties on King Day, saying: I'm so humble to be here with you today, in the sacred place surrounded by men and women who advance the cause of freedom.

I'm joined now by Jamil Smith, senior writer at "Rolling Stone", who was at Ebenezer Baptist Church when Ms. Loeffler spoke on MLK Day.

And Reverend Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain".

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.

I'm so glad that you guys were both available today.

Jamil, you were there when Kelly Loeffler stood up of the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which every politician runs to Georgia if they can to try to get in there. And was she talking about how radical Reverend Warnock was? Was she disparaging his preaching in that moment?

JAMIL SMITH, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE SENIOR WRITER: No, Joy, she was actually talking about Dr. King, as most politicians do when they stop by a black church. And they -- the quote that she said was essentially 1957 quote that Dr. King said in Montgomery, Alabama, what are you doing for others?

So, what we see now is Loeffler is not only doing for President Trump and other Republicans what she should be doing for her constituents. But she's actually working to actively disenfranchise the constituents by supporting this deranged Texas lawsuit.

REID: You know, Mark, there is this what I call a muppetification of Dr. King, right, where people -- particularly on the right -- love to use him like a muppet. He's like the friendly muppet. And he never said anything.

But back in the day, these same people would have been calling King a radical, because what he was saying is you have a to have a radical change in American society to give black people equal rights, equal footing, the right to vote, to right to eat where in Woolworths and also afford it.

Like he would have considered -- would have been considered a radical. I find it hypocritical that people like Kelly Loeffler and other Republicans are now making war on the black church after they said you can't touch Amy Coney Barrett's faith.

REV. MARK THOMPSON, HOST, "MAKE IT PLAIN" PODCAST: Well, first of all, happy birthday week, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

THOMPSON: It's not only hypocritical (ph) what they are doing, it's transparent, the irony that they are attacking the man who has inherited Dr. King's pulpit, just as Dr. King was attacked from that same pulpit in Ebenezer, and then to attack the ritual, the liturgy of the black church. It's as if they want to take us back when we were enslaved, and we had to go hide in harbors to worship. And the plantation owners would had to expunge (ph) to make sure we weren't planning to escape.

But the fact of the matter is, Georgians are planning to escape in January. And the real deal is, it's not about so much the religious practice as it is the numbers, the devil is worried about the details. Organizations like the Black Church Political Action Committee, knocked on over 30,000 doors, leading up to November, called over 225,000 Georgians, during the phone bank, and also are doing that again for the runoff.

So, that's what they're worried about. And the runoff was set up to be discriminatory system, but it may not work out this way this time for Kelly Loeffler and Perdue. So, they are afraid of the power of the black church, and that's the bottom line.

REID: And, you know, and, Jamil, you've got Newt Gingrich attacking Stacey Abrams and claiming, you know, the key to Republican victories is to have more votes than the left can steal, and implying that Stacey Abrams somehow stole Georgia for the Democrats.

You have Georgia Republicans in the legislature saying we're never going to let these black people do this to us again. We're going to pass the laws to make it nearly impossible to vote absentee. They are reacting to the black constituent's decision making in term of voting by trying to suppress votes all over again, Brian Kemp style.

SMITH: Right, well, this is what happens when you have a party that's exclusively dedicated to disenfranchising those who don't vote for them. I mean, you know, rather than making an argument or trying to serve black communities, they actually rather try to make sure that these communities have less of an access to the ballot or to the polls, what have you. So, frankly, I mean, you see them very comfortable being able to show up in a church on MLK Day and espouse these values, but then they don't actually put those values into practice.

They get something that Reverend Warnock actually addressed that day when he said frankly that it's suspicious when politicians come in here and talk about these kinds of values when in fact they step out of the church doors and they don't do the same thing. So, if we want to talk about values and who is upholding, you know, Christian morals and what have you, you have to look further than a sermon that they're going to twist words of. They have to look into the practice.

And, frankly, Georgia should be looking at what the people are doing for them rather what they are saying.

REID: Absolutely. And, Mark, you know, maybe these churches ought to be a little more discriminating in terms of who they let in the door and get on the pulpit, because it's not easy to be on the pulpit of a black church. Maybe they shouldn't let these politicians walk in here and use these churches to politic, because they obviously don't respect the black church and making war against the black church. Everybody who is a black Christian ought to think about that.

But I want to turn to a little bit to different subject, meaning the Democrats here for a moment, Mark. So, imminently, apparently, Joe Biden is going to nominate Mr. Vilsack, Tom Vilsack who to be -- let me just read a little bit. This is from NBC news.

In leaked recordings, Biden said the GOP, he went after the "defund the police" stuff. He says don't use, you know, the defund the police thing. But he also talked about nominating former agricultural secretary to the old position.

And we all know and remember, you and I have talked about the fact that we know Vilsack as the guy who fired Shirley Sherrod. She was an agricultural department official who was forced to resign after Breitbart basically ran a disinformation campaign against her.

Vilsack was the one who fired her. She's a legend in Georgia. She's a civil rights legend, she and her husband.

What do you make of the fact that Joe Biden seems prepared to nominate this man despite that, when they need votes in Georgia?

THOMPSON: I am baffled by it, quite frankly. He's already been there for eight years, and interviewed Lloyd Wright, the former head of the office of civil rights and Department of Agriculture this evening, later on my podcast in the morning. And we talked about all of the things Vilsack did. Not only firing Shirley Sherrod, not really helping the settlement be distributed to farmers. Most black farmers got $50,000. You can't rebuild a farm with that.

Remember, Obama himself called the U.S. Department of Agriculture the last plantation, while Tom Vilsack was there. He actually said it. President Obama.

So, for him to go back and let me tell you something Lloyd Wright said to me just evening, he said that he's talking with Georgians and there are still some black farmers in Georgia, and they're saying, well, why should we vote for Democrats if the Democratic president is going to reappoint Tom Vilsack to be the secretary of agriculture?

So, just as in the meeting with the legacy organization so to speak, the legacy civil rights organizations, Biden said defund hurt Democrats and only so much he would want to do, even going to hurt the Georgia runoffs. The message for Joe Biden tonight is reappointing, renominating Tom Vilsack itself might hurt the Georgia runoffs.

REID: Absolutely. It makes no political sense whatsoever. They didn't seem to know who Shirley was when Tom Vilsack fired her the first time, and apparently, they don't remember her now.

And they think that's going to help them in Georgia? Sorry, I think that is absolutely insane. But you know what? They don't sleep. They just do what they want.

Jamil Smith, Reverend Mark Thompson, thank you both very much.

And up next, Biden's controversial pick for defense secretary. Should Congress grant another waiver allowing a former military officer to hold the post as they did with Trump's nominee Jim Mattis? Well, we have two REIDOUT favorites on to debate that question, right after the break.


REID: Four years ago, Donald Trump, captain bone spurs, stacked his cabinet with what he called his generals, and other military veterans. The guy who got multiple draft deferments was more than happy to cover himself in their glory. Among those nominations was General James Mattis, who has chosen to serve as secretary of defense.

The choice shattered nearly 50 years of norms and required a special exemption from both chambers of Congress because if law stipulating that retired military officers cannot serve as civilian heads of the military until they've been out of uniform for seven years. Both parties, including Vice President-elect Harris voted in favor of that waiver, while 17 Democrats objected.

Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden announced his intention to unemployment retired General Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Like Mattis, he too will require a special waiver because he was head of Central Command until 2016.

The announcement kicked up a debate about the bigger question of whether or not Democrats should normalize this kind of nomination and whether it undercuts the American notion of a civilian-led military.

Joining me now to debate the matter are Navy men, Naveed Jamali, editor at large at "Newsweek", and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst.

Now, I know you guys have been debating this offline. So, we're going to bring that to TV and I'm going to ask Malcolm first because he's a chief, so he gets to go first.

So, Mattis got this waiver. He was only the second guy to get it. General George Marshall got it in 1950. It used to be ten years, now it's seven years you have to be out of military service.

Is this a good or bad idea, Malcolm?

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER U.S. NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: It's an excellent idea, especially at this time after Donald Trump's Pentagon.

Look, General Austin is a man of honor. He's a man that we know will stand up for the troops, when we're talking about a White House here that had a secretary of defense that actually had to waffle in determining whether he was going to follow the president's orders in sending troops in the street.

That will not happen here. The president needs his pick. This is the man he chose. Let's give him that person.

REID: That was the person they call Yesper, who's Esper.

But the previous one, Naveed, Jim Mattis, who's called Mad Dog, right? That was his name. And so, people were like, oh, God, what is Donald Trump going to use him for? He turned out to be one of the more sober and serious members of -- more adult members of the administration, even though he wasn't exactly courageous in standing up to Trump. That leads me to my question about it.

A military man believes in chain of command, comes up through this system. Even if you have James Mattis, who even when he got out, wouldn't in his book go against Trump. It took him forever to criticize Trump.

Is a person who's in that position too chain of command-oriented to stand up to a president if you get a bad president?

NAVEED JAMALI, NEWSWEEK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think that's the question. I think for me personally, the answer is yes. I mean, look, General Austin, amazing man, you know, 41 years in uniform. And that's an important number -- 41 years in uniform and four years as a civilian. In those four years, he sat on the board of directors at Raytheon.

So, the question is not about General Austin's honor or capability. I think he's a wonderful man and I'm proud that, you know, there's only two black four-star generals. He should be proud of his service and accomplishments, and none of this should be to denigrate him at all.

But you're right, Joy, the question is, should we have civilian leadership? And I know the general is a civilian. But it's important to understand that, again, he's been out for four years. That means many of his peers that he was a general with are still in uniform.

And to me, that creates an unhealthy relationship. I think there is an advantage to having, frankly, a civilian secretary of defense that has been out more than four years.

REID: Your response, Malcolm?

NANCE: Well, let's take a look at some of the more recent secretaries of defense who were civilians. Donald Rumsfeld -- Donald Rumsfeld, who literally abandoned U.S. forces in Iraq to do a foolish -- fool-hearty invasion of a country that led to the death of over 3,000 U.S. service members. This is the guy who said you don't come with the army that you want, you want to come with the army that you have. You know, they were literally welding one scrap armor on their vehicles.

Dick Cheney, another brilliant secretary of defense who first couldn't, you know, first, he wouldn't invade Iraq at the time that Saddam Hussein had -- there was a U.S. force on the border of Kuwait. And then couldn't find a country he wouldn't invade.

Civilian authority over the military is strictly a positional authority in this sense. General Austin will become -- is Mr. Austin. He is no longer a general. He's a former general.

But you know what? We need the care in a guy like that to care and feed and take care of our service members so that we don't have certain situations like we had on the USS Theodore Roosevelt where you had literally thousands of service members sick and it wasn't getting through to the top tier of the chain of command.

This general as a civilian will certainly take care of our troops.

REID: You know, that is one argument, Naveed, that you could say after the demoralizing four years of troops being left to get sick on a ship and Donald Trump's misuse of the military like tinker toys, you know, to sort of aggrandize himself, would it in a sense help morale top of one of that you are own who understand what it's like to go to war in charge of them?

JAMALI: There's no doubt that General Austin is a soldier-soldier and understands the cost of war personally. Look, Joy, we spoke to veterans for an article we did and, you know, Republicans, Democrats and veterans alike, they all said that they prefer a civilian secretary of defense. The choice of Austin, no one has anything bad to say about him, but it's a question of a civilian here.


NANCE: Yeah, that's just -- he chose a few civilians at random.

REID: Take it to Twitter, guys. Thank you, Naveed Jamali, and Malcolm Nance. Thank you, guys.

That's tonight's REIDOUT.

Happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating.



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