tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC February 20, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PST
good day, everyone, from msnbc world headquarters in new york, welcome to weekends with alex witt. new developments in the investigation in the attack on the nation's capitol as six capitol hill officers have been suspended with pay, 29 others are now being looked at for their actions during the deadly riot. this as six more members of the far-right militia group, the oath keepers, have been indicted. new reaction to those charges from congressman bennie thompson this morning. >> a number of their leaders actually participated in charging through the doors. a number of them broke windows coming in. they provided security for some of the other people around. they are a bad group of people.
you can assemble, but you know, it's peacefully assemble. what we saw on january 6th is not a peaceful assembly. but as you know, there was no permit for the march to the capitol. the former president encouraged the group to come to the capitol and stop the steal. >> meantime, president biden now officially one whole month on the job is making a public push for his $1.9 trillion covid relief package. the full text of the nearly 600-page bill released yesterday, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, $1,400 direct checks, extending federal unemployment benefits, and more money for struggling small businesses. and breaking news on the growing crisis in texas. president biden declaring a major disaster as the state enters its sixth day of sub-freezing temperatures, and while thousands of texans are finally getting the power back, millions are still without running water. and last hour, the mayor of san
antonio telling me the situation may get worse before it gets better. >> at this point, we need to get folks back on their feet. there will be hell to pay, but first, we have to get our residents out of the hell that they're experiencing right now. and letting a helping hand to the loan star state today is congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez. the new york lawmaker volunteering at a food bank after she raised $3.2 million in relief to bring to the lone star state. as we mentioned, millions of texans are still under a boil water advisory. houston area residents are getting cases of bottled water from distribution sites. let's go back to nbc's antonia hilton who's at one of those locations for us. the distribution that you have witnessed, how's it been going so far? is it going smoothly or there are some hiccups there? >> reporter: it's been going pretty smoothly, alex. i mean, behind me, i'm sure you can see and hear the commotion, but they have about 100 palettes of water and people have been
moving in here fast. according to the mayor's office, people got here at 5:30 a.m. this morning to start waiting to receive this water, and i think that gives you a sense of the level of need and urgency. we have met people in this line today who said that their apartment complexes have no running water at all, that they've been boiling water, trying to figure out how to bathe their children. and then telling us that they haven't had safe drinking water in some cases for days. i just met a woman who told me she was exhausted and thirsty on the spot right here. i want you to take a listen to some of the conversations i've had. listen to this. >> we don't know if we're going to have any water. so, you know, we're -- if our pipes are busted, then we don't know how long we're going to be able to get them fixed. so, the our will definitely help us to carry us through another couple of days. but you know, there's just so much uncertainty with the pipes at this time. we just don't know.
>> reporter: alex, the mayor of houston says that the boil water advisory is going to be in place until about monday, but his office also said that they expect there to be repairs and issues in parts of the city well beyond that point. as i've spoken to residents, particularly low-income houstonens and houstonians of color, they've told me they're worried they're going to be the last people to get their resources restored and see their lives go back to normal. >> that is a concern for legitimate reasons. thank you so much for that. let's talk about the president, who's marking one month today since he was sworn into office. his $1.9 trillion covid relief package is moving forward in the house so we're going to go nbc's monica alba, joining us from washington. what is next for the proposal? because we have house democrats who have released the details of the bill. what's the next step? >> the full house could pass the legislation as soon as this coming week, alex, and then obviously it would go on to the senate and that is where it could potentially face more
hurdles, given that there so far is no republican support, no real bipartisan showing even though that's something president biden and the white house signalled they wanted for this bill. at the moment, that just does not seem to exist, and that's why democrats have decided to go it alone and get this through the procedural hurdle so that it can become law with that critical deadline of mid-march when those unemployment benefits run out for millions of americans. so if this does indeed pass, they would be able to extend those through august as well as a more personalized financial help in the way of stimulus checks and other things for people in certain income brackets, and they're hoping that this all gets done, but there's a major question about also something that's been included now in the bill, and that would be to increase the minimum wage to $15 over the next 4 years. it's unclear whether that's going to be able to survive in this round as the president has indicated himself even though they would like to see it happen, but we heard a little bit more earlier this afternoon from heather bouchet, who's been
advising the president on economic matters, about why she feels the time is now for getting this plan passed in congress. take a listen. >> this package was built from the ground up to make sure that we focus the attention on those who needed it most. so you think about the support for emergency paid leave, workers of color disproportionately don't have paid leave from their employer. that's going to help them. you think about the money for child care assistance. you think about the money for the unemployed. paid leave -- i'm sorry, the minimum wage. those are all policies that are really targeted at helping those most in need and are going to really boost incomes in communities of color. >> reporter: president biden has obviously been talking about this plan from the white house, predominantly, but then he also went out on the road for the first time this week in wisconsin and michigan, trying to sell it to the american people and other lawmakers through that way as well. that's why you saw him touting it yesterday at that pfizer plant in michigan, specifically asking republicans what would you have me take out of the bill
as it stands now? it's $1.9 trillion and republicans simply have not said they're on board with such a steep price tag, alex. >> okay, let me ask you about this, because right now, monica, biden's cabinet nominations, somewhat in limbo, there's a democratic senator to blame. what do we know about this? and how the president is reacting to this roadblock. >> reporter: well, senator joe manchin of west virginia overnight said he can not support the nomination of neera standen, who is up right now. she has also been meeting with senators for a potential post to lead the office of management and budget, but that would essentially derail her confirmation since they would need all 50 democrats on board, but for his part, the president is saying he's not too concerned right now, and he doesn't plan to pull that, at least that's what he told reporters yesterday on his way back from michigan. take a listen to this exchange. >> i think we're going to find the votes to get her confirmed. >> so you're not going to pull her nomination? >> no.
>> reporter: emphasizing there he does not plan to pull that, but there is an open question since so many other people in his cabinet right now who are hoping to be confirmed have not yet been able to be, and they're hoping that process can accelerate on capitol hill. so far, president biden only has seven cabinet members or cabinet level officials confirmed of more than 20 posts. they're hoping to wrap up, which is far slower than either of his predecessors at this point in their presidency, alex. >> thank you so much from dook. let's get a bit more now from what heather told me earlier. it was on the dire need for that $1,400 check as democrats are racing to try to pass the bill. they're going it alone. here's what boushay told me just a short time ago. >> this needs to reach folks that need it and so we think about the essential workers out there. you think about the nurse or the kindergarten teacher or the police officer who's struggling in this time of need where they have been out there helping the american people. we need to make sure that those
folks get the benefits that they need to support their families. >> this comes as over ten million people are out of work, according to a new report in the "washington post." we can expect millions of jobs to not come back after the pandemic ends. and here to break down her article article is economics correspondent in the "washington post," heather long. heather, lets get into this because first let's talk about biden's stimulus plan, the $1,400 check in the bill. who specifically is going to end up getting these checks? >> right now, it's pretty much the same group of people that got the past two checks, so we're looking at individuals up to $75,000 a year in earnings and couples up to $150,000 in earnings. if you earn a little bit more than that, you would still get a partial payment. the phaseout is slightly faster this time around but we're still talking about close to 160 million households who will get these payments.
>> okay. let's get to the alarming part of the article that you wrote here, because you lay out how companies, they've ramped up automation efforts during the pandemic. talk about the kinds of jobs that are likely seeing a decline and probably won't come back. >> right. the key here is we are recovering, but it's going to be a different economy, and there's three key trends driving that. there's more automation, like what you mentioned, alex, but there's also going to be a lot less business travel and -- it's probably fewer restaurant jobs in cities, fewer hotel jobs and valets but it's also stuff like less need for administrative assistance and security guards and parking attendants and cafe workers and hospitals. and when you -- and the other one people forget is all this
automation that's been accelerating at the moment in factories right now. some of those jobs will not return or they will look very different in the future. >> you know, it's a massive domino effect. let's get to the business travel component here, because those who are working, they're going to see the shift, as you say, and that is absolutely expected, but you quoted the mckinsey global institute. we talk about business travel. they're saying 20% won't come back. and that means that 20% of those workers could end up working from home indefinitely? what's the sentiment of people to these kinds of changes? do people want to stay working from home? >> it's a mixed bag. there's -- everyone's still figuring out this new environment. obviously, it saves companies a ton of money, not having to fly people business class and put them up in hotels and have them wine and dine with clients and customers, but some people also like staying at home a little bit more, maybe not as much as we are now, but they like more time with family, more time to
exercise. we know americans have been exercising and cooking more and home renovating and spending more time with their families. so it's not like this is a totally bleak future. but the big concern everybody has is, we know we've got over 10 million people who are unemployed right now. some of those people will get jobs in the coming months. but what about the ones who don't have the same job to go back to? maybe a restaurant worker who was working in a city can now work in a suburb, but that's only if they have transportation to get there. and what about the folks who maybe were working in, say, a factory and now that job is gone? where do they move to? we cannot leave people behind from this pandemic. >> yeah, and i'm just thinking about, like, the business travel. i mean, there would be the car drivers who pick people up from airports and take them to that hotel. or the dry cleaners in their home community because you've got to take a suit or, you know, a nice dress or whatever to be cleaned before you'd go out and wear it. i mean, domino effect for sure.
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let's go now to the coronavirus pandemic and some promising new numbers. new cases are on the decline across this country, almost every state has seen a percentage decrease in the new cases over the past 14 days. nationwide, the rate of new cases is down by almost 25%. a white house advisor says winter weather cause add three-day, 6 million dose delay in vaccine shipments across this country, and officials say the u.s. can make up for the setback across the next several days. pfizer's asking a -- the fda to approve a higher storage temperature for its vaccine, and if approved, the vaccine could be stored in a typical pharmaceutical freezer instead
of those current ultra-cold ones. and more u.s. airlines will be asking passengers for contact information in case of coronavirus exposure. the requests will be voluntary and include your name, phone number, and address. in detroit, hundreds of seniors are taking advantage of a big vaccine drive today. it's a push to make doses more accessible to some of the people who need it the most. let's go to nbc's shaquille brewster in detroit today and joins me to talk about this. shaq, put into perspective how important this drive is in detroit for the senior citizens there. >> reporter: it's incredibly important, alex, and it goes to what you were just saying. in fact -- and the fact that this is a population that needs the vaccines the most. we're talking about an area in detroit that was especially hard hit, so as they were determining what vaccine locations or what locations to have vaccine clinics like this, they went to the hardest hit areas in this community, and this is really been a collaborative effort. we saw today about 500 seniors go and get the first dose of their vaccine. extend to about 2,000 seniors
just in this neighborhood. and you know, the reason why we're at a church is very intentional. officials say it's about building that trust. you can have a clinic in a hospital. you can go to a different clinic in other parts of the area, but they are making sure that they go to specific communities and have these vaccine clinics. listen to a little bit of what they told me earlier today. >> we're asking the state, the federal government, to give us the vaccine because the demand is here. detroit was hit so hard, and it's time to fight back. and we're going to fight back with the vaccine. >> obviously, there's a lot of history, especially in the african-american community, with trust of the healthcare system. and so, the value here is this is a trusted place, bishop van is a trusted face. he's taken the vaccine. he set an example, he and his wife, and that's really the key. so we will be -- our job is to go wherever the patients and the people trust the most to get the vaccine in arms. >> reporter: you know, one thing you continue to hear from officials is that this is all
about a process of building trust. one thing that we saw, the bishop of this church last week, went and got his vaccination. he put it out on facebook, so his congregation can see and build that trust. there was one person inside who told the nurse there that she came to get vaccinated almost in secret. she said her children didn't really trust the vaccine, but she did. she wanted to set that example, so she went to get her vaccine first, and then will tell her kids about it. you can get the sense that more people are trying to get the vaccine. that's what doctors are trying to say, that they feel more people are believing in it, but it takes them seeing examples like the one they're seeing today, having events like what we see today in order for that to happen. alex? >> okay, shaq, thank you so much from detroit for the update there. and joining me now is nbc news contributor dr. natalie azar. good to see you. in a "wall street journal" opinion piece, johns hopkins health expert marty mccarey claims we're going to have herd
immunity by april. part of the reason, natural immunity from infection and he believes 55% of americans have natural immunity. do you agree with that? could we reach herd immunity, which would include those with immunity from the vaccine, in just over two months from now? >> you know what, alex, here is why i am not in the business of making these kinds of predictions, because remember, herd immunity is a function mostly of two things. one, the number of people vaccinated as well as the number of people who have been naturally infected. but that doesn't also take into account variables within those two categories, aka, the speed at which folks are vaccinated, how many people agree to be vaccinated and probably the most important thing in terms of the immunity from natural infection is that we don't actually know how long it lasts. and let me complicate issues even further by stating that our behavior makes a big difference in the next couple of weeks and months. if we start to get complacent
because case numbers are going down and we lose our vigilance on masking and social distancing, the numbers are going to start to go in the opposite direction and then also we take into consideration the variants that are here. and they are more transmissible, which means the percentage of folks who need to be immune to reach herd immunity is going to go up. so, you know, certainly, right now we have 28 million documented cases of covid-19 in this country. many experts have said that that's probably easily a quarter of the number of folks who have actually been infected. and we have about 16 million people who have been fully vaccinated. okay, so, that's like 120 or 125 million. we need to get to close to 275 million or so to reach herd immunity, so we're on the track. we're not quite there yet. i am not going to, you know, sign my john hancock to april, may, or june. >> you gave great reasons for not being in the, you know, prognostication business. i got that. i understand there's a lot of variables there.
there is a new study, though, that suggests the pfizer vaccine is 85% effective after just one dose. and that it could be stored in normal freezers after we made all this hoopla about how it had to be stored in just incredibly cold temperatures. what do you make of that? >> so, this is also really, really important and interesting, but here is the issue. you know, the purists of whom dr. fauci is one, would say, no, no, no, we did the trial with two doses. we need to administer two doses. we're not going to just go with one because of this information, and i don't think anyone's really saying that. i think that experts have said, look, we know that one dose is going to get us to about 85% or at least that's what this study from israel showed. we can do the second dose, but maybe we don't need to do that at three weeks. maybe we actually can push that out much, much further. you know, there are merits to both arguments. get more people vaccinated on the front end, make sure we get that second dose in. alex, the main reason for that
second dose is, number one, to bump that efficacy a little bit higher, right, so we get to that 95%, but it's also about enhancing the durability of that immune response. we don't know how long one shot will protect us. we don't really know how long two shots will protect us. but we know that it's more likely to be longer than just one. you know, j&j right now just announced a couple days ago that they're also doing a two-dose trial for their vaccine for that exact point. so, look, a lot of people are giving their opinion on this. it's a very, very vigorous debate among health experts, and we'll see what happens. >> i always listen to you for what that's worth. dr. natalie azar, thank you so much. as more mutations of the covid-19 virus have been detected around the world, what is being done to save lives? nbc's richard engel reports on the effect of the new strains and how they're debilitating the battle against covid-19. watch "on assignment: covid mutants" tomorrow on msnbc. the politics of a disaster.
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we donate to help a woman thrive. join our movement today at thrivecosmetics.com. breaking news to share on that deadly winter storm. president biden has approved a major disaster declaration for 77 texas counties. today, texas governor greg abbott calling it a partial approval, saying he wants help for every county and will work with federal officials. the mayor of houston saying the city's boil water advisory could be lifted on monday. more than 1,300 different water systems are currently disrupted across the state of texas. water's also a major issue for firefighters. look at this from san antonio. crews had to deal with frozen fire hydrants while battling a massive apartment fire. at least 130 people were displaced. and frozen pipes knocked out the sprinkler system in killeen, texas, last night. everyone got out safely at least. joining me now, victoria at the university of texas at
austin and the mayor of galveston, texas, craig brown. welcome to you both. mayor brown, you first here, sir, your county is included in the president's 77-county disaster declaration there. what help do you need, and how are things there right now? >> right now, we're getting better on the front of electricity and water, but the problem we're having right now is the human suffering that's going on with individuals that can't get back in their homes because of the broken pipes and so forth, and we have had to cut their water off because of that. also, it's hard to get services and materials to repair these leaks, so we have a lot of people that are homeless right. >> yeah, mayor brown, were you on the call with president? >> i was not on that call, but i got a call specifically from the white house two days ago wanting to see what they could do to assist our city. we have a call set up at the beginning of this week to talk about that. >> okay, good.
i'm glad to hear that. victoria, i know you're in very hard-hit austin right now. how are things there, and describe the last week that you have been living through. >> right, alex. so, we were one of the fortunate families where we only lost power for 36 hours. we have not lost water, even though the whole city of austin is under a boil water notice. large parts of the city are also just completely without water, so i think the immediate crisis of not having heat has passed but as mayor brown was just pointing out, right now, the clean-up starts. right? what are we going to do to repair our houses? so many folks that i know have busted pipes in their homes. the whole process of repairing that and having to repair it without having the access to folks who can do that, because the construction industry is spread so thin.
add on to that the fact that grocery stores are running low on food. the supply chain has been completely disrupted, and alex, what is so frustrating is that this really could have been prevented. the storm could not be prevented, but the outages that we saw as a result could have had we winterized and i think that is what, as we emerge from the darkness and the cold, is what is really frustrating and angering so many of us across texas. >> yeah, mayor brown, how about the grocery store and supply situation there for you? we have seen people out in the freezing cold, long lines, and when they get to the grocery store shelves, they're virtually empty. what's it like there in galveston? >> well, we have similar problems with that. we are getting supplies. i understand the grocery stores are getting supplies in at this point. we have water being flown in. i just got notified that the state will be flying in bottled water tomorrow morning, be landing at our airport, and so we are trying to get by the best we can at this point.
>> yeah. how desperate are your constituents there, sir? i mean, do you get a sense? what are people telling you, and what are you witnessing? >> it's -- they're very desperate. and we've gone through the pandemic. we had got hit here in galveston with the busiest storm season ever and now with this, they're very, very desperate. and they're frustrated and we're frustrated here at the city because we had no say on the power outages. we had -- we feel, personally, that they did not have to cut the city and cut 90% of our residents out of power for almost two days. they could have done that with rolling blackouts and we would have probably prevented, then, a lot of these broken pipes that way. >> yeah. it sounds like folks in galveston are just exhausted. victoria, you're on the show an awful lot so i'm going to ask you to turn a little bit political here but it's really practical and just respond to the controversy around ted cruz
being seen heading to cancun at this particular time, when his constituents, the both of you, and the people with whom you live and serve, are really suffering. >> it adds insult to injury, right? so, you know, at the end of the day, being a leader is both about the policy work, the legislating, the committee meetings, but it's also about empathy, and it's also about moral leadership. and ted cruz, first of all, leaving the state and going to cancun and then not accepting it. instead of saying, i apologize, i was wrong, i'm sorry, he blames his daughters. so, i mean, i think it's, again, insult to injury, the injury that we have had of lack of power, of lack of water, of suffering that somebody is just flaunting their resources and their ability to get out of dodge, and i think that is what's so painful, so there's an
addition to the frustration and the anger, there is the pain. the question is, you know, in 2024, when he is up for re-election, will that pain still fuel the memory? and i think that's what's going to be very interesting to see as the democratic party starts thinking about who they're going to field and what ted cruz does proactively. >> well, ten bucks, there's going to be a bunch of commercials and advertisements that recall this, that's for sure. victoria and the mayor of galveston, texas, craig brown, you guys, best of luck, thoughts are with you both and your loved ones and your constituents. thank you so much. one of the most pressing needs for people in houston is food. you're going to see how you can help by going to the houston food bank.org/winterstorm. take a look at that, everyone. meantime, president biden proclaims to the world that america is back. what does that mean? we'll take a look next. k. what does that mean? we'll take a look next
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new hurdles today for president biden in the push to repair america's image around the world. iran is demanding the u.s. lift economic sanctions by next week just as the biden team said it is ready to resume nuclear talks. a new plan to release a report on the killing of journalist jamal khashoggi. >> america is back. the transatlantic alliance is back, and we are not looking
backward. we are looking forward together. we must demonstrate that democracy can still deliver for our people. democracy doesn't happen by accident. we have to defend it. fight for it. strengthen it. renew it. >> okay. joining me now, ann gearen, white house reporter with the "washington post." welcome, ann, let's go point by point. there's a lot to get to, starting with iran. what are the risks for america in making the first move toward nuclear talks? >> well, alex, certainly the administration would dispute that they are making the first move, although that's certainly how they will be criticized for the action that the administration took this past week, which was to open the door to talks. the europeans have been the prime movers here, and the idea is that the europeans would say, hey, united states and iran together, why don't we all sit down for an informal meeting and that can help both the united
states and iran come back inside the deal, the united states left, of course, under president trump, and iran has been violating its part of the deal almost ever since. so, there has to be actions on both sides if the deal itself is going to, again, be fully effective. >> so -- wait. can i ask you, if they've been violating all this, what kind of leverage does the u.s. have then? >> well, the u.s. has a lot of leverage in that the main reason that iran would have had joined the agreement to begin with, that it would be worth it to iran to do so, is that the united states was part of it. the fact that the iran got sanctions relief, got access, greater access to international markets without potential sanctions and financial penalty, all of those things that allowed iran to more freely move around financially in the world were because the united states was part of the deal. so, that's the main leverage.
>> okay. let's get to the next part, the plan to release the intelligence report, which reportedly says that mbs, the saudi crown prince, is the one who ordered the killing of journalist jamal khashoggi. how does that change u.s.-saudi relations? >> well, i think the relations are already pretty fundamentally changed because joe biden is president. this is the next shoe to drop. remember that for the trump administration, mbs was their main point of contact within saudi arabia, within that government, and president trump, former president trump famously said that he had saved mbs's rear end after the khashoggi killing, and that he wanted credit for that. so, they dealt with mbs. they understood exactly what mbs had done. and for president trump, and he said as much at the time, the u.s.-saudi relationship was worth more to them than
punishing saudi arabia over the horrific killing of jamal khashoggi inside the istanbul consulate. so, for biden, they've turned that all around. they haven't talked to any saudi officials, mbs or his father, king sal man, who is the titular leader of the country. and the press secretary said this past week that biden considers king salman to be his counterpart and he has no interest in talking to mbs so essentially they've already cut off the kingdom from official communication, and they don't plan to make a lot of outreach there, even apart from this report. >> give me big picture sentiment on what it means when joe biden says, america is back. how do you interpret that? >> i think it is his answer to america first and all that went with that under the trump administration. for biden, job one
internationally is to fix things, to restore america's alliances, to restore america as the main leader among market democracies. to essentially put things back the way he feels they are right. that's why he's talking to canada. i mean, his first virtual meeting with the foreign leader next week will be with canadian prime minister justin trudeau. that is back to the way things used to be. and before they can do a lot of big things, like attack all the -- all kinds of challenges that are facing the united states when it comes to china, and tackling climate change, before they can really do those things, the biden team feels that they need to, you know, link arms with all the traditional allies, fix things up, get back to basics, and then move on from there. >> so, i remember the day after the election, the mayor of -- after the election was called, i
should say, the mayor of paris tweeted, welcome back, america. right? has something changed? is there reason why we're feeling some pushback on the part of europe as a whole between then and now? >> i think things had changed under president trump, whether the biden team likes it or not. european leaders learned that they needed to be more independent. there is serious doubt underneath all the happiness to see that america is back, as biden puts it, there is serious doubt that u.s. politics might, you know, revert to the kind of nationalism and isolationism that from europe's perspective they saw under trump. time is ticking. it's less than four years until the next election. so, things have already changed. >> got you. okay. anne gearan, thank you so much. back in the u.s., a
potentially historic election happening this year. a new poll reveals many virginians are still undecided about who they want as governor. five democrats are vying for that nomination, former governor terry mcauliffe is leading with 43% and coming in at 7% is jennifer carrol foi. she just landed an endorsement from a major transit union who backed biden in 2020, by the way, and if elected carrol foy would become our nation's first black woman governor. let's go to nbc from petersburg, virginia on this. welcome. i know that you got a chance to catch up with jennifer carrol foy. what did she tell you? >> reporter: hey there, alex, that's right. we're in petersburg, virginia, and to give you an idea of kind of where we are, we're about 30-minute drive south of richmond, which is the state's capital. petersburg is a historically forgotten part of the state. the crime rate here, the poverty rate here is about 25% higher than the rest of virginia. you can really see just even
driving in how much different it looks than other parts of the state. and this is where former delegate jennifer carrol foy grew up. when i talked to her earlier today, she talked about some of the grit and resilience it takes to make your way out of a place like petersburg and she became one of the first women to ever graduate from the virginia military institute. she became a public defender and now she's running for governor and could be the first black woman governor in the entire country. i spoke with her earlier today about how the race is going, where things have sort of shaped out. take a listen to what she told me. >> so, i think that in the past, we had a lot to vote against. donald trump, his rhetoric, his divisiveness but now virginians are looking for something to vote for, not only for this historic moment to elect the first black woman governor in the history of our country, but to also set the narrative and the tone and tenor that we are no longer going to, you know, have a society that's rooted in
hate and divisiveness and that type of rhetoric. so we're moving forward. >> reporter: you hear there, alex, there is, as you mentioned earlier that lead-in, a pretty sizable gap in polling right now but most voters are undecided. they aren't really plugged into that race yet. they still haven't decided on a candidate yet and the message that jennifer carrol foy is taking today is that she is representing parts of the state that have been forgotten, bringing that experience with her to richmond and just peeling this back a little bit, this election is always one that comes right after a presidential race. it kind of ends up being a little bit of a litmus test for both parties here. we know for republicans, this will be an election where donald trump isn't on the ballot, right, but we already see some of that influence coming in. the republican front runner right now, state senator amanda chase, essentially calling herself donald trump in high heels and so that really is a part of the race that's already being factored in. and of course, terry mcauliffe
on the democratic side, who's leading right now, former governor who has been taking in a lot of the attention and the money as well. so that's kind of where we stand here in virginia, and we'll be paying attention as the months come on. >> absolutely. he's got definite name recognition as well. this is going to be interesting to cover. stay on it and we'll check back with you often. qanon believers are still holding out hope that donald trump will be inaugurated. what? on march 4th. okay. so, just how could they believe that? we're talking about it next. th that we're talking about it next. we made usaa insurance for veterans like martin. when a hailstorm hit, he needed his insurance to get it done right, right away. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. usaa are you tired of clean clothes that just don't smell clean? usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. what if your clothes could stay fresh for weeks? now they can! downy unstopables in-wash scent boosters keep your laundry smelling fresh way longer than detergent alone. pour a cap of downy unstopables into your washing machine
thousands of troops are standing by in washington, d.c., amid concerns that qanon could be plotting another violent event. for weeks, the online fringe group has been telling its supporters that donald trump could somehow still be inaugurated on march 4th. joining me now is tim harford, host of the cautionary tales podcast, senior columnist for the financial times and author of this book, "the data
detective," and a couple of others. tim, big welcome to you because this is just a long list. it's the latest in this list of disinformation that's been pushed out by qanon. similar misinformation led to the capitol riots last month. and i know you have been looking at why some people are so quick to believe things that aren't true and that in fact, it began long before kelleyanne conway coined the phrase alternative facts during the trump years. you start back in 1954 and say that was a pivotal year. why? >> i think it was. so, 1954 was the year that the tobacco industry first realized they were in serious trouble. scientific studies starting to come out linking smoking cigarettes with lung cancer, and you know, this is -- this is not good news for any product, right? the product kills the customers. so, the strategy that they adopted was one of stressing skepticism and then weaponizing skepticism and turning it into cynicism.
so, you start going, well, i'm not sure i really believe these scientists. it all seems very complicated. the thing that the tobacco industry realized and this has gone on through climate change, for example, climate denial, the thing they realized is people really want to reach certain beliefs, and they're willing to disbelieve anything that gets in the way. and i would say, actually, for qanon, the problem is not that qanon supporters will believe anything. the problem is that qanon supporters will disbelieve all sorts of important things. it's easy to believe that, you know, maybe an election was rigged. i mean, elections get rigged a lot. that's not a crazy thing. what's crazy is that you have to disbelieve all of the authoritative journalism, all of the mainstream tv networks on both sides of the political spectrum. you have to disbelieve the judicial system. you have to disbelieve the courts. it's what you have to disbelieve that is, i think, more remarkable than what you have to
believe. >> so, tell me, tim, when someone gets confronted with truth in the face of lies that they may be spreading, how do they react? why does it seem easier to discredit things than to prove the truth? >> people's emotions are incredibly important and a lot of this is about feeling part of a group, feeling part of an incrowd and it's true for conspiracy theorists but it's true for all of us. a lot of what we believe is to do with what our friends believe, what the leaders that we trust are telling us, what the journalists that we trust are telling us. if you're confronting somebody with contradictory evidence, you're not just showing them some facts. you're -- they will often feel that you're attacking their sense of self, their culture, their values, and people go to extraordinary lengths once they feel backed into a corner to dismiss stuff that really shouldn't be dismissed. this goes way back to -- well,
you have ufo cults. this, again, back in the 1950s. ufo cults who believe in the end of the world, they believe the ufo is going to arrive at midnight and take them off to safety and destroy the world. the ufo doesn't come. and what do they start doing? they start issuing press releases to "the new york times" and the chicago herald tribune telling them about their cult and the great news that the aliens have changed their minds and they're not going to destroy the world after all. so you double -- at that point, the point where you should be going, oh, we were totally wrong, you double down and suddenly you're telling the world about your crazy beliefs and i think we have seen this with qanon. they're doubling down with this idea that trump will be inaugurated on the 4th of march. >> i mean, you probably heard me go, what? anyway, how much does repeating lies go to making them seem true? because when we look at the volume of lies donald trump repeated saying he won the election, it has become fact to him and the minds of so many people. does repetition just secure it?
>> well, repetition helps people remember things. and in fact, fact checkers have to be careful not to repeat the lie that they're debunking, because you can end up repeating it so often that people don't remember the fact checking. they just remember the untrue statement. that's part of the problem. and another part of the problem is that it's coming at us so fast. and we're all distracted, you're checking your phone, and you haven't got time to think and a lot of the people who are falling for conspiracy theories are low on what's called cognitive reflection. like they don't have time to think. they don't want to think. and if you can get them to calm down, even for a couple of seconds, they will see sense. >> i got to tell you, it is a fascinating read in the data detective. you look at how you can use data for pros and cons, frankly, address it all. it's a big issue, particularly these days. i'm so glad you wrote that book and even more glad that you
appeared with us, tim. thank you so much. and for all of you, that's going to do it for this edition of weekends with alex witt. join me tomorrow. meantime, yasmin is up next with information on the mysterious origins of the pandemic. information on the mysterious origins of the pandemic. ♪let's make lots of money♪ ♪you've got the brawn♪ ♪i've got the brains♪ ♪let's make lots of♪ ♪uh uh uh♪ ♪oohhh there's a lot of opportunities♪ with allstate, drivers who switched saved over $700. saving is easy when you're in good hands. allstate click or call to switch today. allstate (man) i'm a verizon engineer, part of the team that built 5g right, the only one from america's most reliable network. we designed our 5g to make the things you do every day better. with 5g nationwide, millions of people can now work, listen, and stream in verizon 5g quality.
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good afternoon, everybody, i'm yasmin vossoughian. we've got a lot to cover in the two hours ahead. and we have a team of reporters on the ground across the country to show just how this is impacting your daily life. millions of texans beginning their weekend with a food shortage and tap water too dangerous to drink. a houston resident will join me a bit later to share her harrowing story about keeping her family safe this week. we're also following the latest on covid, including what it's going to take to get teachers back into classrooms. and new questions, of course, over the origins and how all of this actually started. plus, one month into