tv Alex Witt Reports MSNBC November 7, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PST
a very good day to all of you, welcome to "alex witt reports." developing today, in houston, texas, a city in mourning. police are opening a criminal investigation into how eight young people ended up dead at a music festival. a crowd of about 50,000 people pushing toward the front of the stage during travis scott's performance. he was at the astroworld festival. >> as soon as he came out, the wave crushed me in. i had to keep my head up, towards the sky, so i could breathe. >> everyone saying get out, i can't breathe, i need you to
move. >> security or emts could not get to people in the crowd. there were too many people. and the barricades became a hindrance, people were trapped in the area. >> the victims were young, the youngest, just 14 years old. the oldest, 27. katie beck is in the houston following this tragic story. what more are we learning about the investigation? >> reporter: we're here just outside the venue. people coming up to the memorial to leave flowers and pictures of the victims. and also trying to retrieve items they may have left behind. investigators in this case trying to get to the central question, why did this crowd surge? >> i could just never imagine the severity of the situation.
i'm honestly just devastating. >> reporter: travis scott joining the city of houston in morning today. while the search for answers gets under way. >> it's important to ascertain what took place, what happened, where missteps may have occurred. >> reporter: as scott took the stage friday at the festival, many of his fans were being crushed in a sea of pain. >> pushing, pushing, pushing. >> we just watched the bodies go past us, unconscious. >> reporter: eight people died, all under 30. the youngest victim, just 14 years old. >> we're working right now to identify the families so we can help assist them through this tough time. >> reporter: police are looking
into reports of a security guard who was stuck in the neck with a needle. >> could it have been that somebody was doing drugs and they passed out and they were traveled? >> reporter: police say they've improved security measures at the event over the years. but this nurse says the show was too crowded, and people were trapped in the crush. >> if you fell over, it would have been a death sentence. >> reporter: she says she fainted in the crowd, but her boyfriend lifted her over a fence to medics. >> if he would not have gotten me out of there, i don't think i would have made it. >> reporter: now, investigators are promising a robust and independent investigation into all of the safety protocols which were followed, and maybe some they can do better to prevent a tragedy like this one. they say it could be weeks, even
a month, before they have answers. >> catie, thank you for that. joining me now, amy harris. welcome. i know it was a tough experience for you as well. but you said the astroworld crowds were among the most aggressive fans i've ever seen at a festival. when did you get a sense that things were taking a turn for the worse? >> we saw early in the day, a much more aggressive crowd as we got word that fans had tried to bum rush through the vip entrance around 12:30 in the afternoon. and throughout the day, we saw lots of scenes where, like, these large groups of fans would rush into areas that were restricted. at one point, around 4:30 p.m., we were trying to get in and out
of the photo pit area in front of the stage. and there were about 300 fans who had jumped the barricade wall, and we were having trouble getting in or out of a very small space. after that, we requested assistance from our contacts on site, and they re-routed the photographers and videographers to a safer path and then out. but throughout the day, it seemed that when the fans wanted to go somewhere, whether it was restricted or not, they would get through. >> that's extraordinary. when all of this started going down, when the tragedy unfolded, not that there weren't problems and issues before then, where were you? did you get caught up in it? >> when we were waiting for travis to go on, we were on a shoot that goes into the photo pit on the other stage. we had been at the second stage all day, and so we had not been
in that area before. and we were waiting to go in. so we went in, they had already rushed in to vip again and taken over that area in front of us while we were waiting in this narrow space. during the first three songs, i'm obviously focused on taking pictures. you could tell, it was a very chaotic atmosphere, which is normal at a music festival, but so many people and fans coming through. my main focus is always just to try to get the work done and get out of the area. and obviously, i'll turn around and take pictures of the crowd sometimes. but every festival, there's people coming over. and it was hard to assess until later that this was more than normal. >> you said you reached out to your contacts and they ushered you to a safe place.
is that what you wrote about, you wrote to pr and told them the situation was unsafe? >> yes. >> so the response was relative to you guys. they got you to a safe spot. but did you see anything being done on behalf of the crowd? could anything be done at that point? >> i'm not sure. because i've seen situations like this before. no matter how much security you have at the front, it's hard to control a mass of people coming forward, sometimes up to thousands of people. i'm not sure what steps they took, but i can tell you that when we made formal complaint, we were addressed immediately. and came in person to make sure we were escorted in and out safely. >> i'm glad -- >> i'm not sure what measures were talkin' for the crowd.
>> do you have any sense where it all went wrong? is there a point where you can say, this was the catastrophic point? >> no, i can't speculate because this crowd had been pushing forward all day. and i don't know at all what triggered it, this massive surge at that time. whether they were overexcited and seeing the artists they were there to see there all day. >> you've never seen anything like this? >> no, i've seen very chaotic situations at festivals. people are usually there to have fun and to help each other. but this was unlike anything i've seen before. >> did you see anybody getting cpr, anybody being carried out? >> i saw people coming over the wall. and it was -- i couldn't have told at that point whether they
were conscious or not. i didn't see anyone getting cpr. and i did see when we were walking out, the medical golf carts going into the crowd, and i realized that was time for me to leave. as we left, we saw fans crying. hard to decipher whether they were happy or sad, and what was going on. so just from a personal safety standpoint, i just decided to leave. >> i think that was a good call. amy, thank you so much for telling your story. i appreciate that. let's go over to washington, where the president is gearing up to sign that bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, even as greater challenges lie ahead with the build back better social spending plan. still a long way to go before it reaches the president's desk. the white house remains confident, however. >> i'm sure the senate will make changes. that's how the process works. but we're going to get a very
strong version of the bill through the house, through the senate, to the president's desk, and into law. meantime, two democratic senators from virginia are blaming the late vote for terry mcauliffe's loss on tuesday. >> the house could have passed it in august. we could have spent the last three months going around virginia, talking about clean water systems, improving our transportation system. >> congressional democrats blew the timing. we should have passed it in october. >> and new this hour, a brand new poll shows the president's approval rating at 38%, with 59% disapproval. this was taken last wednesday
through friday, but before the infrastructure bill was passed. also, the republican vice chair of the january 6th committee pushing back against arguments that the attack on the capitol was a false flag operation. >> it's un-american to be spreading those kinds of lies. and they are lies. and we have an obligation that goes beyond partisanship and an obligation that we share, democrats and republicans together, to make sure that we understand every single piece of the facts about what happened that day. and to make sure the people who did it are held accountable. >> now that infrastructure is done, when can we expect the build back better bill to pass congress? granted, it has a few things to
get through first. >> about november 15th, in the house. it won't be a couple of weeks because moderates demanded a budgetary analysis. and the president, asked about some of the key priorities like paid parental leave, said time will tell if they're able to keep those. a white house senior adviser appeared to be conveying optimism today. take a listen. >> we're going to get a vote on build back better. everything has noise around it. but just like the american rescue plan and infrastructure, there's noise but we got it done. we think it has 50 votes in the senate, it's popular in the house. and we're going to continue to work to get it there. >> so the operative word you just heard is framework.
pramila jayapal said she's gotten a guarantee from moderates that once the budgetary analysis is complete, they'll vote for it. the question is, what kind of horse trading will be necessary, particularly with senators manchin and sinema, who have outsized power because they'll need these democrats. they're not expecting to get any republican support. >> heidi, thank you. emotional new testimony giving us a clearer picture of the day ahmaud arbery was killed. that's next. introducing fidelity income planning. we look at how much you've saved, how much you'll need,
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officer. >> no, i'm not okay. i just "f"-ing killed somebody. >> three white men are accused of chasing down and skilling arbery in a georgia suburb last year. liz, welcome to you on this sunday. what are you hearing? is there any word on who is set to testify this week? >> alex, when court reconvenes at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, the prosecution will continue to make its case. we expect to hear from the medical examiner, who will testify that arbery was in a defensive position due to the trajectory of the bullets. we also expect people to testify that he was often seen running in that neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods. he was shot less than two miles
away from his home. the prosecution aiming to show here just that he's an avid runner. it's not a character witness. and for the most part, his personal life or medical history is off the table for the trial. the prosecution might be showing some evidence that could show racial bias from those defendants, including social media posts and text messages in which they used racial slurs. so in the coming days and weeks, we may see the prosecution move towards race as having a big role in this trial. >> liz, thank you. i'm joined by paul butler, welcome. good to see you. i'm curious, your assessment of the case so far, how do you read it?
>> in the dramatic opening statements on friday, the prosecutors called the three defendants trigger happy vigilantes who hunted mr. arbery down based on their bad assumptions that he was a burglar. then according to the prosecutors, the defendants acted as judge, jury, and executioner. they immediately introduced the cell phone video that graphically depicts the defendants killing mr. arbery. one of the jurors couldn't even watch it. >> and his mother, watching her turn away. that poor woman. when you say he was accused of being a burglar, was anything found on his person when he died? was there anything that was not supposed to be there, any piece of property?
>> no. the homeowner said that nothing had been taken from the home, it was a home under construction. he speculated that because there was running water in the house, mr. arbery may have been just going there to get a drink. but the defendants are claiming they had the right to make a citizen's arrest of mr. arbery based on georgia law at the time. because they had seen him going into the construction site. >> and defense attorneys are going the self-defense route. >> there was probably cause that a felony had been committed, and this man was attempting to escape or flee. arbery makes a left, not a right. makes a left, and is on travis. such that travis has no choice but to fire his weapon in self-defense. >> fired his weapon three times,
i believe, correct? your reaction to this strategy is what? >> georgia law at the time allowed private citizens to make arrests at certain moments. this happened in the 1800s to allow white people to capture escaped slaves. but there is still a vital question about whether mr. arbery ever presented the kind of deadly threat that would authorize the defendants to kill mr. arbery in self-defense. we haven't seen that evidence. in fact, if the defendants are the people who are the aggressors, if they started the fight with mr. arbery, they're not entitled to claims of defense. >> and the probable cause for what? of a theft that, again, there
was nothing on him. so where is the probable cause? >> again, i don't see that. and the jury will have to determine whether they think this law applies. and again, even if it does, did it give, did mr. arbery do anything that allowed the defendants to be justified in pumping three bullets in his body? we see that they approach him very aggressively. this is very revealing, now. it's right after travis mcmichaels pumps the three bullets into mr. arbery. he says an expletive, and then the "n"-word. >> yeah. and the gun that was used, it was one of those pump rifles. it was -- it just seems like a lot of effort had to be done. it wasn't as if a quick pull of a trigger and -- there's a lot there. it doesn't seem like it was
accidental, right? and one more thing, the jury makeup, 11 white jurors, 1 black juror. in a county where 27% of the county are black. what kind of effect will this have on the trial? >> the judge found that 12 african-americans were qualified to sit on the jury. the defense removed 11 of those 12 jurors. alex, the concern here is that the case is far from a slam dunk for the prosecution. the defense is going to use the citizen's arrest law, and if the defendants are found not guilty, people will say the defendants got off because of the injury. it's 2021, and a virtually
all-white jury will decide. >> paul, thank you very much. a concerning spike in covid cases overseas. is it a sign of what is to come in the u.s.? and will a new anti-viral pill change the course of the pandemic? he pandemic ♪ there are beautiful ideas that remain in the dark. but with our new multi-cloud experience, you have the flexibility you need to unveil them to the world. ♪ want your clothes to smell freshly washed all day without heavy perfumes? now they can! with downy light in-wash freshness boosters. just pour a capful of beads into your washing machine before each load. to give your laundry a light scent
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right now, there are marathon runners crossing the finish line in new york city. it's been a long way since last year's race was canceled because of covid. we're along the route in brooklyn, what has that been like for you today, has it gone smoothly? >> reporter: yeah, it certainly seems like it has gone smoothly. it felt very much like things have gone closer to normal. there were lots of differences. the runners had to show proof of
vaccination or proof of a negative covid test within the previous 48 hours of taking off running. the street sweeper is about to move through here, because the runners have already cleared out. but the cowbells were back, just like in a normal year. and i'm learning about how many people are here trying to benefit charities. here's some of what they had to say. >> it's crazy. the people cheering, no matter what, there are people everywhere. it feels nice to have all this support for the runners. >> it's great, the flags, the music, everyone is cheering for everyone. it's great. you're against your time, not anyone else. >> this is my first time. i had the chills.
>> and we already have the winners, paris won the women's race, and albert won the men's race. there were 20,000 fewer racers this year than in 2019. trying to give people space due to the pandemic, which is in full swing. >> and my friend annie ran it in 3:51.07. she looked like she was in great stride. i would have passed out by, like, mile seven. but way to go for all these runners, especially annie. thank you, steven. and new data showing covid
cases are on the rise in almost every european nation. let's bring in our msnbc medical contributor. it's not the first time europe has been declared the epicenter of the pandemic by the w.h.o. but what is causing this new surge? >> there are a couple of things at play. one is the uk, they let down all of their restrictions as the numbers have started to increase for vaccinations. and we're seeing the change in weather, this being a respiratory virus taking advantage of the dry weather. and uk and belgium, with an increase in cases. uk is about 74% of the population has one dose, belgium, about 75%.
in both cases, hospitalizations and deaths are not going up at the same rate as the prior peaks. the vaccines are decoupling cases from hospitalizations and deaths. but the tough part is, we're only 66% partially immunized. we're walking into this cold weather potentially with a lot more vulnerability. >> and several times over the last year and a half, you told me look at europe. about three weeks later, that will happen in the united states. are you still saying that now? is there any reason not to believe that will happen? >> as i said, i think that i worry, partly because our vulnerability seems to be slightly greater. we have lower rates of immunizations, and those seem to be in the same geographical
area. nothing could be more dangerous than starting to see potential hospitalizations and deaths. and a couple of things are working in our corner this time around, we are a lot more immunized. the thing that worries me, as you know, we have now seen that in data both from natural immunity as well as with vaccines, it seems to be around five to six months, older people are vulnerable, and the immunity seems to wane. so we will need the boosters as well. >> absolutely. what about on friday, pfizer announcing they have this new covid pill that will reduce hospitalizations and deaths by 89%.
dr. scott gottlieb said this could be the key to putting this behind us. >> we've always said two of the events that would demarcate the end of the pandemic would be being able to vaccinate our children, and a drug that can be used at home. >> do you agree? >> i think we're much better off than last winter. i think an oral pill that you can easily access is going to be an important way, at least for people who are older, to mitigate getting severely ill. but people need to be able to get tested, and we need to make sure there's enough of this pill or the merck pill in all pharmacies. so that will be important. but i think it's a move in the
right direction. i do want to say one thing, the next two months are going to be tenuous with the winter coming up. we should keep wearing the masks and take all the measures we need to. >> doctor, thank you so much. the president's big social spending plan can help many americans. but a new poll might indicate that americans don't know it. before the break, here's a great impression by james austin johnson. >> donald trump. >> thank you, thank you so much. thank you. yup. thank you so much. i just wanted to congratulate glenn youngkin and mostly myself on a great victory in virginia. we did it together. >> you don't have to say that. >> it's great to be frankly winning again. we love to win. and you know what, you're going to see a lot more winning where
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what is at stake? >> there's a lot at stake in 2022, but one of them is looking even further beyond, to 2024, and the certification of that presidential election. in 2020, the governors ultimately certified their results for joe biden. but who will be in those roles come 2024, in a potentially contested presidential election? that's a major question in front of voters. >> i think the america first movement has been the most important movement in this country. >> reporter: this is kari lake, a candidate for 2022, who could throw the u.s. into chaos in 2024. you said the election was stolen. would you have certified arizona's results? >> hell, no. >> kari lake.
whoa. whoa. >> reporter: she caught trump's attention over the summer. >> wow. this could be a big night for you. >> reporter: she's trump's pick to be arizona's next governor. this, as trump eyes his own 2024 comeback. how close to a constitutional crisis were we? >> i think we came very close to a constitutional crisis. >> reporter: trump pressured the current arizona governor last year, but he did not back down. even silencing a call from the white house. as he officially signed and certified arizona's vote for biden. >> governor ducey was horrible. >> reporter: now lake is looking to replace him. but it's georgia, michigan, nevada nevada, pennsylvania, wisconsin. all of these states in 2020
signed off on their results. but in 2024 -- >> many of those people will be gone in 2024. >> reporter: in georgia last year, trump called on the state's republican governor, brian kemp, to resign. after he, like ducey, made georgia's biden win official. then, on the morning of january 6th -- >> donald trump has just begun. i'm a part of his team. and we're going to take back this
country. >> reporter: that man, vernon jones, is now running for governor. >> he's great guy. he's smart, he's tough. vernon jones. >> i stand for free, fair, and transparent elections. >> reporter: why should one trust that you would certify the election results in 2024 if joe biden or another democrat won re-election? >> that's your narrative. that's what you want to push. >> reporter: you're not even willing to say you would certify the 2020 election.
>> i will certify anything that is legal. >> reporter: some states also require the sign-off of their secretary of state. trump trying to influence that, too. in arizona, backing a state legislator who was outside the capitol on january 6th. and lake is already making campaign stops. this week, lake throwing what she calls an election integrity
rally. >> november 3rd, we witnessed that steal go down. >> reporter: multiple reviews in arizona and georgia found no major voter fraud that would impact the outcome. but no mention of that here. in 2024, would you be willing to put the country in a constitutional crisis? >> in 2024? let's take it slow and get through decertifying. >> reporter: next year, governor
races with ripple effects for the 2024 election. >> let me ask you, would you certify a crooked, corrupt election? just to make peace? yes, no? that's not how i operate. i do what is right. >> reporter: state statutes in georgia say the governor and secretary of state shall follow the rule of law. but what happens when those officials choose not to? that's the question here. when you hear from the likes of kari lake, essentially suggesting she would not have certified the election like doug ducey, that brings up questions about what could come to be, come 2024's presidential election. coming up, what democrats need to do to close the gap and
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more politics for you. a new poll showing president biden's approval ratings a slipping. 50% of americans the biggest drop is from black and african-american voters from 72% approval in february to 52% approval in november. joining me is michael eric dyson, distinguished professor at vanderbilt university, author of "entertaining race." which looks super interesting. we'll get to the book but the numbers, what do you think they are a reflection of? do you think that the president's approval down truly? >> thank you for having me as always. no. i think this thing is a roller coaster, an up and down
situation, and polls are a snapshot of the moment. but they don't necessarily indicate a long term trend. many people are disappointed. the irony is donald trump had such a horrendous presidency that in contrast to him of course joe biden would look better to many people but one of the difficulties and perhaps the disadvantage of not being an autocrat or a person that believes in fascist tendencies is you don't disregard the other side and trying to forge relationships hampered the agenda and the limit that is the fact of the senate has on him with numbers and being able to get past senators manchin and sinema. putting that all together it makes for a difficult row to hoe. >> i want to drill down because
when it comes back to the social spending bill that congress is moving through 34% of voters say it would make a positive impact on the life. 39% say it would be a negative one. why are the concepts of child care, paid family leave, improved medicare, better internet access, repaired roads and bridges, why is that not handing more positively with all americans? >> it is a great point and i think this is an index and an indication of the efficiency of a message that safety net is tepiding to marxist beliefs opposed to what the government should do and to really prop up an economy that all participants as citizens are involved in. so the messaging of the far
right wing in combination with the constant erosion of the authority of political officer by the right wing and as your previous segment suggested you have officials that can't believe that what happened in the last election is legitimate. when you put it all together it is no surprise to have these messages. >> how does the current administration turn this around? is it an onslaught. does joe biden get out there or every cabinet member? does it have to be an onslaught of epic proportions to get this message out? this will help everybody. >> yeah. i think so. look. a criticism of the obama administration is they didn't selling the truth about the wares. and the approach people value end macy in politics. look at simone sanders and
kamala harris and others, people in the administration to get out in the hustling and tell the truth and the good things they are doing and got to bang their own drum much louder. in this day of retail politics you got to tell folk what you're about and doing to help them. otherwise it gets lost in the sauce. >> listen. well said. i totally agree to you. let's get to the book. first of all, explain the title. >> right. so entertaining is at least three ways to interpret. black people have to entertain. we have had to entertain the idea of race constantly. and thirdly we have to find ways to just like you talk about joe biden make interesting and entertaining ways to talk about race that don't sound like the
same tried and true stuff that's been put forth. >> look. you yourself play many roles. you are a preacher. professor. writer, author, critic, talk show host and guest. how much does your experience influence this book? what do you want readers to take away from it? >> great question. a lot. because i have had to do a lot. as a minister, a professor, as an activist, a media commentator, a host and so on and so forth it is extremely important to understand the performance of blackness. it's a negative name now. performance of ally-ship. i get it. performance is a redemptive character. when martin luther king jr. understood he had to perform to make sure the civil rights bill
would pass is incredibly important. when others understood to use performance to display to america the necessity for protecting and providing voting rights that's a beautiful thing. performance is built into the character and we need to be conscious of that and willing to do everything we can to make sure that the goals are arrived at. >> well said and well told. if you want to do so, everybody, the book is "entertaining race." thank you so much. good luck with it. that will do it for me. i'll see you again next saturday. my friend yasmin vossoughian continues the coverage. ♪ there are beautiful ideas that remain in the dark.
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