tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC January 14, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
we are now 17 days, i think, into this week. but we'll get there. that's going to do it for us tonight. i'll see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening lawrence. >> good evening rachel. you'll never believe what tomorrow is. tomorrow is actually friday i think. i'm pretty sure. >> what does that even mean anymore? >> friday is generally the end of your work week. i know i'm going to be here tomorrow night. and it might be the end of our work week. i don't know this friday. i don't know. we'll see. rachel -- >> well, i mean -- yeah, sorry, go ahead. >> sorry. this is one of those nights
where i count on you more than i usually count on you and i count on you every night. and tonight i was counting on you to cover the flint, michigan, water story and the crimes that have arisen from it that we always in our hearts, if not necessarily our legal minds, believed them to be crimes in that situation in flint water. i'm not going to be able to cover it in this hour, and i was counting on you to do exactly what you did in the last hour, as you have led us and this network on this story from the beginning. and once again, what you did tonight on what's happened in flint and the importance of it and identifying the importance of it in this news environment by putting it right up there at the front of your show was so important. and again, it's -- >> oh, thank you. >> -- i'm so grateful for it because anyone who missed it, i'm insisting go find it. watch the rerun later tonight. it is everything you need to know about it.
>> thank you, lawrence. that's very nice of you to say. i mean, my heart is still -- part of my heart is in flint, and i am still just so devastated by that story. and i do think that it has lessons for us, not just because flint shouldn't be forgotten because of what happened there but also because it does tell us something about what has gone wrong on the political right and the unmooring of the american political right and the way they have gotten away from small deed democracy and ghov governance. you know that sounds like an edgy take on it, but that's what i have come to believe covering that story. >> you went to flint. you did that town hall. i saw the way the audience received you there because they were so grateful of the focus you brought to it on this network. and that was well deserved. you guided our coverage tonight. we're going to start with congresswoman mary gay scanlon who is picking up where you left off last night, she says she saw
these tours going on the day before the invasion of the capitol. people in maga outfits in the complex, including the congressional offices and those corridors and those basements, a very, very scary image. she's going to tell us what she saw and what she's demanding by way of an investigation. >> that's excellent. that story is getting bigger and not smaller over time. i'm glad you've got that, my friend. >> it is. thank you, rachel. thank you. well, we ended this program last night with an interview with tim gosar who said that his brother was an organizer and mastermind of the invasion of the capitol. his brother, paul gosar, is a republican congressman from arizona. tim gosar doesn't speak to his brother anymore because he thinks his brother, the congressman, is a pathological liar and a danger to society. so, tim gosar doesn't have any inside information about what
his brother did. that was just tim gosar's way of describing the public record of what his brother did in encouraging the invasion of the capitol. congressman gosar was in constant contact with one of the publicly acknowledged organizers of the trump rally that became the invasion of the capitol. congressman gosar encouraged the mob in every way that he could to think that the election was stolen from donald trump. congressman gosar dedicated every fiber of his being to that lie every day since election day. while donald trump was on the stage urging the mob to go to the capitol and fight, congressman gosar was tweeting completely fake tough guy stuff that has become the staple of the republican pathological liars in the congress who still support donald trump's lie about
the election. congressman gosar demanded via twitter that joe biden deliver his concession to congressman gosar himself the next day. and he ends that threat to joe biden, ends it with this threat to joe biden, don't make me come over there. oh boy. don't make me come over there. or what? you're going to get violent with joe biden? you're going to beat him up? here is the face of that madness. here is congressman gosar. psychopath? sociopath? we can leave that question to mental health professionals. but what congressman gosar definitely is tonight is a suspect. his fellow members of congress suspect that republicans, like paul gosar and others, aided and abetted the invasion of the capitol through constant months long promotion of the lie that the invasion was based on, that the election was stolen from donald trump, and that some of them actually provided tours of the capitol complex, including congressional office buildings,
the day before the invasion of the capitol. if the republican house members who provided those tours or their staff members who provided those tours knew that the people they were guiding were planning to invade the capitol, then they are all criminal coconspirators in the invasion of the capitol. our first guest today says that she saw people being guided through the capitol the day before the invasion who looked very much like the people who carried out that invasion the next day. the criminal invaders of the capitol all have one important characteristic in common. they come in various shapes and sizes, including the extraordinarily tall olympic gold medal winning swimmer klete keller. he shares this characteristic with kevin seefried of delaware who carried the battle flag of the treasonous confederate army that waged war against the united states.
kevin seefried has been arrested by the fbi and charged along with his son, hunter. we patiently await republican attacks from the seefried crime family, a verbal construct that the fox propaganda channel likes to use for another family from delaware that includes a son named hunter. father and son share this characteristic with josiah colt who made the most acrobatic entrance to the senate floor that anyone has ever seen and was arrested by the fbi when he got home to idaho. the characteristic that they all share from the now-arrested olympic gold medalist to the rest of them, aside from their observable likeness, is an unshakable stupidity. these are the stupidest people in america. josiah colt is the spokesperson for the mob's collective stupidity. he issued a written statement to
local news media in idaho, saying, "i love america. i love the people. i didn't hurt anyone and i didn't cause any damage in the chamber. i got caught up in the moment." caught up in the moment. the pictures and video we've seen of josiah colt in the senate chamber are, as far as they go, consistent with his claim that he didn't hurt anyone or cause any damage. he actually takes credit in his statement for telling others not to do any damage to the senate, claiming that he told them, quote, we're still on sacred ground. and there was no damage to the senate chamber. his written statement adds, "in the moment, i thought i was doing the right thing." prisons are full of people serving life sentences for something that seemed like the thing to do in the moment. josiah colt should spend some time in federal prison for what he decided to do when he got caught up in the moment. it should be more time than you
get in this country for lying to colleges on your kid's college applications. the invaders ranged from the misbegotten like josiah colt to the murderous like the people who murdered capitol police officer brian sicknick. robert sanford is a 55-year-old former firefighter who was arrested by the fbi in pennsylvania this morning. the fbi has video of robert sanford throwing a fire extinguisher at capitol police. the criminal complaint says the fire extinguisher struck one officer who was wearing a helmet in the head. then the fire extinguisher ricochets, striking a second officer, who was not wearing a helmet in the head and ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. robert sanford faces one criminal charge for entering a
restricted building, another charge for disorderly conduct, and his fourth charge is for assaulting, resisting or impeding officers while engaged in official duties. assaulting. throwing a fire exting wester extinguisher at someone's head is more than assaulting. much more. that is assaulting with a deadly weapon. that is attempted murder. and that is exactly what he would be charged with if he was a black man arrested by any other police department in any other building in this country at any other time. that is tonight's lesson in white privilege, a deadly weapon does not have to be a gun or a knife. a deadly weapon is anything that can kill. and a fire extinguisher thrown at your head can kill you. everyone in that mob, including the people like josiah colt who think they did no damage and did
no harm, enabled robert sanford to throw that fire extinguisher at three police officers' heads because it was the size of the crowd, the overwhelming size of the mob, that allowed that very cowardly criminal to think that he could try to kill police officers and get away with it. but the mob was not acting alone. the president told them to do it. we know the president told them to do it. >> we were invited here! we were invited by the president of the united states! >> they were invited by the president. but who else was in on it? every republican in the house and the senate who lied to those people and told them that the election was stolen, in effect, encouraged robert sanford to pick up that fire extinguisher and throw it and hit three police officers in the head. so how guilty are they?
how guilty are the pathologically lying republicans in the house and the senate who encouraged that mob? we'll get to the legalisms of that question in a moment. but the morality of this should be very clear. morally, donald trump and those members of congress are just as guilty, just as guilty, as the invaders of the capitol, including the murderers at the capitol. last night tim gosar said this about his brother, congressman paul gosar. >> you're just as guilty as the events and the people and what they did and the five people that lost their lives. so, there's blood on your hands. >> the fbi director had a message today for everyone who invaded the capitol. >> from january 6th alone, we've already identified over 200 suspects. so, we know who you are. if you're out there, fbi agents
are coming to find you. >> leading off our discussion tonight, democratic congressman mary gay scanlan of pennsylvania. also with us, neal katyal, former acting u.s. solicitor general and msnbc legal contributor. congresswoman scanlon, tell us what you saw in the capitol and when you saw it and where you saw it. >> so, with respect to the insurgency, the attack on the capitol, i was not a direct eyewitness to that because fortunately i was in my office across the street. most of what i saw was the next -- well, later that night when we returned to complete the counting of the electoral college votes, probably one of the things that struck me the most was seeing our young staffers who had been in the chamber when it was attacked when they had to be locked down, when the windows were broken and
they were cowering behind chairs. seeing these young people who went back into the chamber to help complete the vote count. but this one young woman had -- her eyes were red. she was clearly in shock because she had been terrorized. and certainly talking with my colleagues who were trapped in the gallery for a while, folks were terrorized. this was a mob that came up to commit domestic terror. so, i couldn't agree with you more that ultimate responsibility lies with the president who invited the mob and whipped it up and sent it down the mall to invade the capitol. but the members of congress who supported that lie even after the attack and even today who have not apologized for misleading their constituents, for misleading these people into thinking that they were somehow doing the right thing and that they had a right to disrupt congress and terrorize members of congress, the people who work on the hill.
there's a lot of responsibility there. >> what did you see the day before? and did you see any members of congress guiding -- giving those tours that you saw the day before? >> i didn't. obviously in the last day or so mikey sherrill started circulating a letter that she had seen tour groups and reported it the day before because it struck her with her military training that this was a suspicious activity. i had seen the tour groups, so i joined her letter. it did not strike me in the same way she did because i don't have that kind of training, but it struck me because we have not had tours of the capitol since march because of covid. so, when i saw a group of people touring with, i believe it was a staffer, could have been a member of congress, because we have some new members, but you know, with masks and because we had only been sworn in one or two days before, that was not my
impression. my impression was it was a congressional staffer because that's the only way these people could have gotten in there. folk who is had on a lot of red gear. notably what struck me again because this was a covid era regulation, they weren't wearing masks or they were wearing their masks under their chin. we're very conscious. the halls of conscious are tight. there's not a lot of room. it's an old building. i was not happy to see there were people not abiding by the covid regulations. i assumed it was a new member who didn't know they weren't supposed to be giving those tours. but that is why it stood out to me. then when i learned there might be deeper concerns, i was happy to join the letter. >> neal katyal, what were the legal implications of what we're seeing and the way tim gosar sees his brother's role, congressman paul gosar, in this? morally, the way he sees it, his brother is just as guilty for
what happened to the capitol as the people who invaded the capitol. >> well, lawrence, i think the sad thing is in teaching criminal law, which i've taught about 20 times at georgetown, as a teacher you're struggling to locate a mass crime event that can teach students about a variety of crimes. and so, what we really do is, we make it up. we make up a hypothetical. it's heartbreaking, it's chilling, that all of this occurred two blocks away from my law school, georgetown, and that it was real. with respect to representative gosar and other members of congress to the extent that they actually conspired or directly tried to -- and give aid and comfort to those people who were invading the capitol, that's a clear federal crime. so, seditious conspiracy, which is 18usc 23-84 punishes that. there's an aiding and abetting statute and inciting and insurrection statute.
what these are going to require, though, is not simply, did you unintentionally help someone, maybe let someone in on a tour guide if you didn't know, but did you have some sort of specific intent to try to help these folks? but for some members of congress, the answer to that very well may be yes, and for others it will be no. and that's what a law enforcement investigation is all about, and i'm glad to see the fbi is launching one. and i am 100% sure that in the new administration there will be a real investigation, and these crimes won't be covered up or swept under the rug. the justice department for four years has really coddled a lot of these folks and the department of homeland security have whitewashed a lot of extremist reports. there will be a new sheriff in town next week, but i'm pleased to see the fbi this week stepping up. >> congresswoman, i was going to ask you a bunch of questions that i real aids you don't know the answer to, because you are asking these questions, these
same questions, to the capitol police and the sergeant-at-arms in the letter that you've written, demanding information. you ask them, is there a record of all of the visitors who came in the day before? were there i.d.s presented? and it -- you don't know yet if there's any kind of actual record of who was allowed to enter the buildings the day before. >> well, i suspect we're going to have at least some video record, because these folks were, you know, throughout the halls, throughout the tunnels, certainly in areas where there is video. and you know, we've seen there's been a lot of success with tracking people down through video records. so, i suspect we'll see that and that will help us track it back to the source. you know, at a minimum, there was a breach of the protocol, because there aren't supposed to be people having tours. now, that protocol may have been instituted because of covid, but it may help lead us to, you know, other facts that we need to dig into. >> neal katyal, we have to go to
a break, but one quick point. i have every one of these federal charging documents laid out on a long table in the next room. but every one i look at with every name of every one of these defendants is a new defendant who donald trump, tonight, could issue a specific pardon to for every single thing they're charged with on these documents. >> right. so, actually already some have asked, i think q shahman has already asked the president for a pardon, and given the president's track record on pardons, you know, who knows what he will do. you know, unfortunately, the pardon power is absolute and isn't subject to restrictions except if there's a state or local crime, and there may be for some of these people. >> thank you both for starting off our discussions tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up, it was a social media insurrection invasion of the capitol.
at the end of this hour tonight, trysten harris will join us. you may have seen him on the powerful netflix documentary about social media entitled "the social dilemma." also joining us tonight, former member of the economic team, joining joe biden in the white house. now that republicans are finally feeling what it's like to face death threats from trump supporters, something democratic members of congress have been getting for years. ons for waiting to go to your doctor right now. but if you're experiencing leg pain, swelling, or redness, don't wait to see your doctor. these could be symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot which could travel to your lungs and lead to a pulmonary embolism. which could cause chest pain or discomfort, or difficulty breathing—and be deadly. your symptoms could mean something serious, so this is no time to wait.
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tonight, some republicans in congress are experiencing the fear of death threats for the first time. in other words, they are experiencing what democratic members of congress have been enduring from trump supporters for years now. we're about to show you some republican members of the house describing their experience receiving death threats for the very first time.
and as you listen to them, keep in mind that their party has never once expressed any sympathy or solidarity with the members of congress who receive the most death threats by far, all of whom are democrats and women of color, who have been demonized relentlessly by the fox propaganda channel. >> colleagues that are now traveling with armed escorts out of fear for safety. many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make. it's sad that we have to get to that point, but our expectation is that someone may try to kill us. >> this was dropped off at my office just a few minutes ago, and i -- i and my colleagues are very, very concerned. it's just a very troubling time for all of us. >> that -- can you show that
again? that was dropped off at your office. is that at the capitol? >> that was taped to my office door just a few minutes ago. >> joining us now, white house correspondent for the pbs news hour and msnbc political analyst, host of "zerlina." zerlina, i just want to say to them welcome to life in the trump era. i -- i know who the most threatened house member is and i'm not going to get into names here because i don't want to bring more attention to how much -- just how much of a death threat atmosphere these members live in all the time. but many, many, many democrats have been living with these kinds of death threats from trump supporters every single day of the trump presidency. >> right, lawrence. i mean, members of the media as well. so, i think certainly when you
have allowed white nationalists and white supremacists to be emboldened by not condemning them, by not calling them out for violent rhetoric, violence happens. and violence has been happening for many years now. i mean, obviously we all remember the el paso shooting. obviously there was a synagogue shooting. so, this has been a steady stream of white nationalist terrorism. and i think that republicans certainly are reaping some of the consequences of the things they have sown. but it's important we stamp this out. this is not something that coincides with a functional democracy. what these folks want is to start a race war and have a white ethnostate. i'm not a part of that state, lawrence. and so, i you this it's important that, you know, folks who have a moral compass that's working, maybe it's these newly woke republicans, can all agree that we have to have a basis in
truth and facts and also condemn white nationalism and white nationalist terrorism wherever we see it, even if it's people who we consider a part of our so-called political coalition. >> yamiche, donald trump was able to keep republicans in line because they feared being challenged in a primary on their re-election campaign by someone more supportive of donald trump. that's what was their biggest fear prior to now. now they're afraid of being murdered by supporters of donald trump. is this something they just woke up to now as a possibility? >> it seems as though some of them have just started waking up to this possibility. and i think i will say that there is still, i think, politics at play with people still worried about the politics of going against president trump and his supporters. but when i saw that siege on capitol hill and i saw those people storm the capitol and put
lawmakers' lives in danger, the first thought i had was these are the people who are in my inbox. these are the people who are threatening the lives of people who president trump has targeted. allies of the president, people close to the president say he's not taking this as seriously when he gets into arguments with people or targets people it's donald trump being donald trump. and now we see some republicans starting to realize that donald trump being donald trump puts people's lives in danger. and i think there is a real realization happening in the republican party that they are having to fear and face this monster that was created by president trump. i was talking to a source today who told me that they were on the phone and someone overheard them say that they were excited about what vice president pence did in not disrupting the count. and that person was then heckled at the airport. that person tried to explain to the person who was harassing them that they were actually someone who worked on president trump's campaign. but that person didn't want to hear. you're either for donald trump or against donald trump.
and if you're against donald trump in the eyes of these people who are mobsters in some ways, they are ready to attack you. it's a tough lesson to learn for a lot of republicans. >> zerlina, i don't mean to minimize in any way what these republicans are going through, especially because they voted the right way when it came to certifying the electoral votes. their lives are now in danger and that is thanks to donald trump and what he has created in our politics. but alexandria ocasio-cortez released a video last night showing another level of fear, that when she was in the so-called safe room with her colleagues, she was afraid that some of her colleagues might be trying to communicate with those people to tell them where they were and where they could find her. she couldn't spend those hours in that room feeling that they were all trying to protect each other.
>> that's when this gets really scary, lawrence, when you have members of congress like aoc and ayana presley whose chief of staff reported that the panic buttons in her office were ripped out of the wall, and that was reported in "the boston globe." so, i think there needs to be a lot more investigating into member of congress and their staffs, frankly, to ensure that all the other members of congress are safe. if you have members of congress that are potentially complicit with the acts of terrorism, then that puts members of congress in even more danger because the enemy is within, even more so than it already is, lawrence. and i think that, you know, unfortunately folks didn't listen to so many commentators, writers, experts on white nationalism and white supremacy who have been saying for, you know, five years now, the danger of this type of rhetoric, that it leads to violence, that people of color are put in danger. and now it's finally come around
to these republicans that they should have started listening five years ago. >> well, there's a new member of the house, republican side who's a qanon believer. we could expect that all of her staff will be qanon believers. that means there's more than a dozen of them going into the buildings every day. that's a dangerous situation for everyone. thank you both for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. oh, you can watch zerlina's show -- teleprompter had a second to tell me about your show. it's on peacock and streams live at 6:00 p.m. eastern. that's zerlina's show. coming up, jerry bernstein who worked on economic policy for joe biden when he was vice president, will be returning to the white house as a member of the president's council on economic advisers. he'll join us next. ip you've been dreaming of, expedia has millions of flexible booking options.
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america, as optimistic as i've ever been. we have everything we need, but the will must be demonstrated. so, come wednesday, we begin a new chapter. vice president-elect and i will do our best to meet all the expectations you have for the country and the expectations we have for it. i'm confident. i am truly confident together -- together -- we can get this done and come out better off than when we went into this crisis. god bless you all and may god protect our troops. >> that was president-elect joe biden in wilmington, delaware, tonight unveiling his $1.9 trillion coronavirus and economic recovery plan. as of tonight, there are 23,345,787 reported cases of coronavirus in the united states and as of tonight, the united states has suffered 388,599 deaths from coronavirus.
today the department of labor announced that nearly 1 million people sought unemployment aid last week, the highest number of claims since late august. and joining us now is jared bernstein. he is a member of president-elect biden's -- he's going to be a member of president-elect biden's counsel of economic advisers. thank you very much for joining us tonight. i really appreciate it. i'm wicked jealous. when i was an economics major in college, my ambition changed from being a member of the boston red sox to being a member of the president's council of economic advisers, as soon as i learned of its existence. it just sounded so cool. so, anyway, congratulations on that. >> i agree with you. >> let me go to the $600 question, which is president-elect biden is proposing what will be a $2,000
payment to individuals. is that $1,400 in addition to the $600 that just went out, bringing it to a total of $2,000, or is it a new $2,000 or is it a new 2,000 on top of the $600? >> it is the former. $14,000, add in the $600, and you don't have to be an economist to do that arithmetic. that gets you to 2,000. if i could say a couple of words about the plan, lawrence. it's been a long day, but i'm really glad to be ending it with you because you and i have been talking about this sort of thing for a long time. this is just such a critically important moment to aggressively and efficiently attack the dual challenges that have plagued this country for far too long. of course i'm talking about the pandemic and the economic crisis that it has engendered. this plan, this american rescue plan that the president-elect talked about tonight, it can control the virus, produce and distribute adequate amounts of vaccine, open up our schools,
provide relief from hunger and homelessness, get help to struggling businesses and cut child poverty in half. and that's just the first step the president-elect talked about tonight. the rescue stuff, it sets up a later package to ensure a racially inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable recovery. so, this is the first step of a two-step strategy. >> yeah, one of the things that is not always clear to people in packages like this is that the spending, other than the direct spending into people's accounts, which is so important, the spending is mostly, in effect, a jobs program. you know, this vaccine has to be delivered by people who weren't in the business of delivering vaccine six months ago, two months ago. so, that's part of what i'm seeing in this package. >> yeah, i think that's really important. i think at the core of the message here is, yes, controlling the virus,
distributing the vaccine, reopening our schools, providing first responders, educators the resources they need to get the work done. but all of those are jobs. and i've been working for joe biden for a long time. and great opportunities in the labor market for people who are far too often left out of economic recoveries is at the core of his and the vice president-elect's aspirations here. i mean, by the way, a good example of what you're talking about is, part of a plan to mobilize a public health jobs program to support the response to control the vaccine and distribute -- to control the virus and distribute the vaccine is a proposal that would fund 100,000 public health workers that nearly triples the country's community health roles that are already in place but are, you know, starved for funds.
and that's a critical linchpin in getting this work completed. >> as you go forward, how much will economic policy interact with vaccine distribution, and how much will it guide vaccine distribution? >> it's going to be extremely hard to get this economy back to where it needs to be without a complete revamping of the approach to both virus control and vaccine distribution. and i thought the president-elect made those points quite fulsomely tonight. we have an economy that's been operating through this, but it's been a massively bifurcated economy. essential workers have often been exposed to health risks and low pay. we still have double digit unemployment rates, especially for persons of color. for low income people, as i
mentioned earlier, they face a threat of eviction and hunger. i was looking at a statistic today that something like 20% of families of color face some sort of a hunger issue. at the same time that we have a booming stock market. so, if you're one of those folks who's never missed a paycheck and you've been able to zoom into meetings and your stock portfolio is zooming along, none of this, you know, maybe this doesn't sound that familiar to you. but for the many other americans who are struggling to get by, this american rescue plan will aggressively, effectively and efficiently finally provide the help. >> jared bernstein, incoming member of the president's council of economic advisers. jared, can we switch jobs just for one day? i promise i'll sit there and i won't say anything. i'll just pretend i understand what they're talking about. >> i think you could do my job better than i could do your job. so, that makes me a little nervous. >> we're going to find out. we're going to try it.
thank you very much for joining us. really appreciate it. thank you. well, it was a social media run invasion of the capitol, and coming up, tristan harris from the documentary "the social dilemma" will join us on how social media came to this and what banning donald trump from social media can accomplish. woman: i have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. now, there's skyrizi. 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months after just 2 doses. skyrizi may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. before treatment, your doctor should check you for infections and tuberculosis. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms, such as fevers, sweats, chills, muscle aches or coughs, or if you plan to or recently received a vaccine.
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amazon cited posts to kill black and jewish people and shoot police officers in the head. parler systematically failed to suspend access to this content. here's more of tristan harris in "the social dilemma." >> we're all looking out for the moment when technology would overwhelm human strengths and intelligence. when is it going to cross the singularity, replace our jobs, be smarter than humans? but there's this much earlier moment when technology exceeds and overwhelms human weaknesses. this point being crossed is at the root of addiction, polarization, radicalization, vanity, the entire thing. this is overpowering human nature and this is check mate on humanity. >> tristan harris joins us next.
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today, fbi director christopher wray said this -- >> we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter, i think is the best way i would describe it, about a number of events surrounding the inauguration. right now, we're tracking calls for potential armed protests. >> joining us now is tristan harris, former google design ethicist and the cofounder and president of the senter for humane technology. he is featured in the sometimes terrifying netflix documentary, "the social dilemma." thank you for joining us again tonight. i have to say, one of the things that crossed my mind when i was watching the invasion of the capitol is, what is tristan thinking about this?
i want you to take that on, along with the question of, what does it mean, what will be the affect of banning donald trump from social media? >> yeah, lawrence, well, first of all, thanks for having me on. i'm an american and i was concerned as much as everybody else was. a lot of people who saw "the social dilemma" and heard tim kendall say what he was worried about, he said civil war. and i remember in the editing process, someone said, that seems too extreme, that seems like too extreme a statement and it feels like to many people that "the social dilemma" kind of predicted so much of what happened on january 6th. and the process of not just social media but letting this business model run for ten years, narrowing us into a more and more extreme certain view of reality that really is crazytown and crazytown manifested into what we all saw on that day. and i just want to say, you know, as a human being, concerned about where this was all going, like everyone else,
my first response was, oh, my god, you know, and that's why i think you can see in the film such concern on all of our faces because we're so worried about where this goes if we don't intervene. and there's so much more to say about where we go from here. >> what about the banning of donald trump from social media that suddenly occurred, took this invasion to do it? >> yeah, well, you know, we're trapped in this feedback loop where, you know, the business models of these companies, they have to get more clicks so they do better when they serve you affirmation instead of information. when you are in the cycle, the harder it is for us to agree with each other. the longer this thing runs, the harder it is for us to agree as a culture, and then you have decisions like, let's moderate content. is that post by donald trump inciting violence or not? well, the culture, the brain of the psyche of humanity and the country has been split into two. so, the brain of our country can't agree on whether it incites violence or not, because
we've been watching different movies of reality. and so there's this weird per veers feedback loop, the longer we wait, the harder it is to make the decisions. moderating content, how are we going to defeat covid, racial injustice, all of this depends on a shared view of reality. when the companies took this decision, starting with twitter banning trump, this is a frank enstein they don't know how to control, other than just turning off accounts that are associated with violence. and it shows they don't have a more precise methodology. i have a friend who runs one of the more prominent fact-checking outlets and they have billions of messages that are moving through the system and they only have a few, you know, tens of thousands of fact-checkers, right? so, the scale of potential incitement to violence or harm or rumors or misinformation is so much more than they have
capacity to deal with it and so that's really where we are. and the thing we need to come together and realize is that we have become a cyborg democracy. the brain implant drove us crazy and when this digital sort of takeover of our natural brain took over, it -- what happened is, private companies start eating up public interest and it deregulates those private interests. we have saturday morning cartoons in the physical word. when big tech eats it up and makes youtube take that over, we lose saturday morning protections. so, we lose all the kind of norms. we lose democratic decision-making. so, you know, i don't think any of the companies wanted this to happen, but they don't have a better option. what we need now is a constitutional convention for the digital world, because it's not the case that we should not have articles of impeachment for actors who abuse the system, we
should have -- if we are a digital nation, there should be digital articles of impeachment for certain people in that digital nation, but it should be a democratic process, not an autocratic one made by three, you know, tech ceos. >> will donald trump, if he continues to be banned by the major social media and parler is knocked off the way it has been so far, will donald trump find a way back into some kind of guerrilla social media? >> well, it's -- it is interesting watching the first few days like everybody up, he kept popping up and it was a whack a mole game and it was quite literally that he started popping up on different accounts on twitter and the other platforms. you know, i think at some point you probably get exhausted. you know, he could always create his own social media network, but one of the powers of social media is the network effect. we call them metcalf monopolies. the power and growth of the network scales exponentially to the people that are on it.
you don't want to leave to some other network because not enough people are there. that's what's really interesting about where we are. >> tristan harris, thank you very much for joining us. really appreciate. i wanted to get your perspective on this since the day that it happened. thank you very much. >> thank you for wanted to get your perspective since the day it happened. thank you very much. >> thank you for asking such great questions. >> tristan harris gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. well, good evening once again, day 1,456 of the trump administration. that leaves six days until the inauguration of joe biden as our 46th president. tonight more u.s. troops in washington than we currently have deployed in iraq, syria and afghanistan combined. the u.s. capitol and increasingly the nearby mall are armed encampments. sadly they need to be.