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tv   Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien  NBC  December 5, 2021 5:00am-5:30am PST

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>> right now on "matter of fact" -- >> we the jury find -- >> do you know how juries really work? dr. marinakis: oftentimes, when i speak to jurors after the trials, they say, why me? why did you pick me? and sometimes you have to say to them, i actually didn't pick you . >> an inside look at the cornerstone of our criminal justice system. and the life-changing experiences of two women before roe v. wade. sue: i never want any woman to , first about, -- first of all, have an illegal abortion and feel the shame. because i did -- i felt shame and i felt guilt. >> plus, west virginia's journey from first to worst. >> which month did you see a
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visible downtick? >> in may, it just dropped off a cliff. >> the state that once led the nation in covid vaccinations is now struggling to get back on track. ♪ soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to "matter of fact." the covid variant omicron is triggering fear and raising concerns about how it spreads and whether vaccines and treatments will be effective against it. when covid-19 vaccines first rolled out, west virginia led the way with its speedy distribution. about 95% of west virginians 65 and older have received at least one dose. but now, rates among younger groups dramatically trail the rest of the country. only four out of 10 adults aged 18 to 64 are fully vaccinated. so, how did west virginia go from being number one to near the bottom of the pack? our correspondent julia sun traveled across west virginia to learn more.
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julia: the air is crisp on this mid-november day in the mountain state. fall has taken up residence here. with it, a kind of pandemic fatigue i discover about 20 miles northwest of charleston when i stop to talk with several people waiting for their rapid test results in a parking lot. can i ask if you've been vaccinated? >> we have not been vaccinated. julia: you have not been vaccinated. what's the one reason you're not vaccinated? like, what concerns you? i'm concerned that the vaccine was not worked on long enough. julia: concerns that the vaccine hasn't been worked on long enough and might not be safe is a common refrain here. west virginia's covid czar dr. clay marsh has heard it all. dr. marsh: for the people that are worried about the speed of the messenger rna vaccines, these are among the safest and by far the most effective vaccines that have ever been produced.
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julia: about 10 months ago, marsh's home state was leading the nation in getting shots in arms, driven by the urgency to protect the state's aging population. with one in five residents over 64, marsh gave all pharmacies , big and small, the greenlight to give shots as soon as the vaccines were available. lynne fruth: i know that it is making a difference in this community. julia: pharmacy owner lynne fruth says that drove vaccination rates up at first. lynne fruth: i like to say we're first to worst as far as the vaccine. the state did a phenomenal job rolling out the initial vaccine. julia: which month did you see a visible downtick? lynne fruth: in may, it just dropped off a cliff. julia: the rush ended when every willing taker had been vaccinated. now, the focus is on the booster shots. >> you just got your booster, how do you feel? frank baird: oh, i feel fine. like i said, i've lived through
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two years of this, and it ain't going to kill me yet. julia: for frank baird and his wife, who have been married for 59 years, the trip to the pharmacy for a shot is just the smart thing to do. frank baird: everybody in our family has been inoculated. julia: but the baird family is the exception, not the rule. across west virginia, only 41% of residents are fully vaccinated. jim hoyer heads up west virginia's pandemic response task force. his highest priorities, to support hospitals with high patient loads, distribute booster shots to communities, and to combat the misinformation online, that he says has fueled vaccine skepticism, along with residents' nearly ingrained apprehension of authority. jim hoyer: with this natural tendency to have hesitancy and trusting the government that we in the appalachian region have had since -- i go back to the mine wars. julia: in tightly-knit
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communities, face-to-face conversations seem the most effective. lynne fruth: an elderly lady came through a couple of weeks ago, tested positive. i noticed that she was unvaccinated, and i walked out to her car. it was somebody that i had met in the community, and i just said, i'm so worried about you. julia: what do you say to people who think, oh, you're just somebody on the internet? lynne fruth: well, i'm from here. we at fruth pharmacy have given 30,000 to 40,000 shots, and we've not had any serious adverse reactions. julia: pharmacist drew massey has given 25,000 shots in the western region of the state. he regularly goes to testing sites and schools to speak to the unvaccinated, especially the younger ones. drew massey: you know, they feel like they're bulletproof. and sometimes it takes someone close to you being drastically affected or being hospitalized before it really brings it home. dr. marsh: it's been said that a single death is a story and a million deaths are a statistic.
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covid is made to infect person after person, and it's not up to us to expect covid to get less fit, but it's up to us to get more fit, to be able to become firewalls. julia: an uphill climb in the mountain state, where cases are rising, and where mixed attitudes threaten progress against the pandemic. for "matter of fact," i'm julia sun in west virginia. >> coming up, the right to a fair trial is at the heart of democracy. what goes into selecting a jury of your peers? and -- nancy: we all deserved choice. and we didn't have it. >> two women reflect on the past and future of abortion rights in america. plus, come along for a road trip across i-70, where we ask -- what does it mean to be an american? ♪
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soledad: 12 people, one decision. in the past few weeks, we've watched juries hand down verdicts on high-profile cases. those decisions have put juries and how they work in the spotlight. the sixth amendment of our constitution gives americans the right to a trial by jury. during jury selection, attorneys for the prosecution and the defense pose a set of questions to potential jurors to reveal the beliefs and biases that may damage their case. how do attorneys settle on who they want? that's where jury consultants come in. christina marinakis is a jury consultant at ims litigation. dr. christina marinakis, nice to have you with me. i find the concept around consulting with the jury absolutely fascinating. give me a sense of -- of how the process works.
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dr. marinakis: oftentimes, when i speak to juries after the trial, they are like why me, why did you pick me? and i say i did not choose you. there's many ways that jurors can be dismissed, whether it's through personal hardship, because they can't serve on a trial of that length. or it could be for potential bias, because they have strong feelings about the case that they can't set aside. soledad: what do you look for in a juror, like once you get through hardship, and people who are clearly biased and have to go? dr. marinakis: we're trying to find out who are actually the worst jurors for us. the idea that you actually want to hide your best jurors, it's almost counterintuitive. you don't want to identify who your best jurors are. because then the other side is just going to get rid of them. so we go into a jury selection, you need to have in your mind, what is the profile of the absolute worst juror? and the way i explain this is, is that we all have lenses in how we see the world and those lenses have been shaped by a lifetime worth of experiences. soledad: so back to this idea that you can dismiss a number of
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jurors, can you explain where that came from and why you do that? i mean, that part to me seems just kind of random and a little bit unfair, i guess. dr. marinakis: it's -- it's actually the most fair thing, because, ultimately, people can't always recognize their biases. soledad: it seems that the way a lawyer frames the question to a prospective juror is -- is pretty -- is pretty important. it's pretty critical. you know, how does the framing work? dr. marinakis: that's why people hire consultants like myself. so if you want jurors to open up, and you want to them to admit to these biases, it's better to ask people how many people feel xyz, as opposed to, does anybody feel? because when you say, "does anybody feel," it has this implication that this is not a proper belief. does anybody feel this way, because this is the wrong way to feel? whereas when you say "how many of you feel," it's more of a welcoming, like, i recognize that many people feel this way. soledad: a lot of people thought
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it was interesting that in the trial that focused on the killing of arbery, it was one black guy and 11 white people, and you're talking about the deep south. how does something like that happen? dr. marinakis: some of it is just plain luck. it's a numbers game. when you get seated on a jury, there is something called a random list, so each juror is sat in order, and by random chance, you could have more african-american jurors towards the end of the list than towards the front of the list, just by chance alone. you're going to have that mix up. the other part of it goes to hardship. and this is what's really unfortunate is that our jury system doesn't pay jurors very much for their jury duty. it's, you know, it can be up to $40 a day, but many places only $8 a day. soledad: does diversity help the prosecution or the defense? dr. marinakis: the more diverse the jury is, the longer they deliberate and the closer they look at the evidence and the closer they look at the law. there's something called groupthink error, and that's when you have a group that is homogeneous, a group that's very similar to one another. they agree to get along, because
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they want to get along with people who are like them. they tend to go along with whoever the leader is or go along with the majority, and they don't really dig into things. when you have a diverse jury, what the research has shown is that these jurors deliberate longer. they will look at the jury instructions more often, and they will look and ask for the evidence more often. and there's a study that shows that they make less factual errors than the homogeneous juries. and so which side that benefits depends on the case. soledad: thank you so much, really appreciate it. dr. marinakis: of course. thank you for having me. >> when we come back, the life changing experiences of two women before roe v. wade. and what is the great green wall of africa?
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soledad: there is just one abortion provider in mississippi. it's the jackson women's health organization clinic, and it's on the frontlines of an abortion battle at the supreme court. this week, justices heard arguments challenging a mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. it's a case legal experts say could provide a direct challenge to roe v. wade. in 1973, the court's decision on roe v. wade legalized abortion nationwide, prior to viability of the fetus, usually at about 24 weeks. we spoke to two women -- nancy miller and sue perlgut -- who came of age before that decision. we met them after they co-authored letter to the editor that ran in "the new york times."
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sue perlgut: i drove myself to the newark, new jersey train station. i couldn't bring anybody with me. i had to wear a carnation in my lapel, which is how they would recognize me. we go into a regular apartment in a high-rise building. they take me first and they give me drugs. i wake up hearing screaming, and i realized it's me. i'm screaming because i'm feeling the pain, and the doctor says, "my neighbors!" and slaps me and i'm back out. and the next thing i know, i wake up, and the abortion's over. i didn't have any complications afterwards. i was really, really lucky. nancy miller: i had just moved to boston after graduating from college and got pregnant and was absolutely devastated. i couldn't make myself think about having an abortion. you know, i'd already sinned once, right? i carried it to term and surrendered my baby for
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adoption. boy, the shame, the stigma was still there in 1969. it took me five years to get to my under-the-covers, howlingvinr away. we all deserved choice. and we didn't have it. sue perlgut: i never want any woman to have to have an illegal abortion and feel the shame. because i did, i felt shame and i felt guilt. we didn't have access to birth control, unless you were married. so when we do talk to young women at colleges, they get it. they understand they're in a world right now where it's very scary for them. nancy miller: i absolutely think it's possible to be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time. sue perlgut: if abortion were seen as just this medical procedure that anybody could
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have, i don't think it would be fraught. it's just a choice. that's it. >> up next, travel across the middle of the country to learn what it means to be an american. and the great green wall, planting trees across the entire expanse of africa. to stay up-to-date with "matter-of-fact," sign up for our newsletter at mrs. claus the shopping boss here to help you merry savers decorate with the best bargains ever! ross has savings on everything you need to get the party started. because who waits for shipping anymore? or guests?! i love saying yes to more merry for less at ross!
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mrs. claus the shopping boss here to help you merry savers find the best bargains ever! when you have the world's longest list you go to ross so you can work that budget and get those savings. i love saying yes to more merry for less at ross. soledad: welcome back to "matter of fact." in just about two weeks, on december 16th, i will be hosting a primetime streaming event called "the matter of fact listening tour: promises of change." it is part of our series examining bias and identity. americans have complicated attitudes about diversity and its impact on the country's culture. to find out how people describe their sense of belonging, we sent correspondent jessica gomez
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on a road trip, along 1-70, from denver to st. louis. our question -- what does it mean to be an american? here is a look at one stop on her journey. jeffrey blair: things that would happen to me sometimes, i would say, "oh, well, that's just america," you know. but when you see your children, you're like, "oh no, we gotta stop this." jessica: our final stop, this african-american children's bookstore, also outside of st. louis. jeffrey blair: i can travel through time, all through a book, and i can see myself in there. jessica: i.t. manager and former attorney jeffrey blair and his wife pamela opened eyeeseeme five years ago, inspired by what their children, now in college, were missing. jeffrey blair: there are times in my life, times in my question whether america values us, right?
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are we full citizens really, or are we here just as bystanders? jessica: it was during the pandemic when their gofundme plea resulted in an outpouring of support, keeping the store in business. jeffrey blair: i think those times, when, collectively, i feel the support and validation of community, is when if feel like i am part of something. but there are times, again, when i don't. ♪ alright, this is one of my favorite books. it is called "the undefeated." once you open history, it opened the world. i think one of the things is the possibility, going forward, the possibility of hope and possibility of change. i think the idea of expanding the notion of freedom and who it applies to, to be the collective and not just the few, that can give greatness to the ideals of what america supposedly
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stands for. "this is for the undefeated, this is for you and for you and for you, this is for us, the undefeated." ♪ jessica: along i-70, for "the listening tour," i am jessica gomez. soledad: the upcoming "matter of fact listening tour" explores innovative solutions to some of the nation's most pressing problems. please join us for the live stream event, "promises of change," december 16th at 7:00 p.m. eastern, on our website, >> next, something extraordinary is growing in africa. could it be a solution for the continent and the planet? ordinary tissues burn when theo blows. so dad bought puffs plus lotion, and rescued his nose. with up to 50% more lotion puffs bring soothing softness and relief. a nose in need
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soledad: and finally, ancient chinese dynasties weren't messing around when they built the great wall of china. it's so enormous that it can be
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seen from space. well, now, africa is constructing its own great wall, but it's green, made up of planted trees that, once finished, will stretch 5000 miles across the continent. the reason? to create a strip of trees and plants that will keep the nearby sahara desert from expanding due to climate change. it still has a ways to grow, but one community in northern cameroon has already planted thousands of trees. once it is all done, the great green wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the great barrier reef. it should be finished by 2030, and that is not a moment too soon. that is it for this edition of "matter of fact." i am soledad o'brien. i will see you back here next week. >> if you missed our top stories about west virginia's decline in covid vaccinations and its efforts to get back on track, how juries in cases are selected, the stories of two women who became pregnant before abortion was legal, and the green wall being built in africa
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to help curb fallout from climate change, go to and listen to "matter of fact" with soledad o'brien on your favorite podcast provider. watch us during the week on fyi, pluto, and youtube. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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today on "asian pacific america," the author of the "new york times" best-seller is back to talk about success, and then new york and bay area actor, moses, is here, to talk about playing george bailey in "it's a wonderful life." and then we have a performance that will bring a little bali wood to our show. i am robert


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