Hi, folks, it's Rick Wilson and welcome to The Daily Beast, the new abnormal. Hi, I'm Molly John Fast, a left wing pundit and editor at large at The Daily Beast.
I'm also an editor at The Daily Beast, a former Republican political strategist, best selling author and full time troublemaker. We're here to have fun, sharp conversations with some of the smartest people in media, politics, business and science that help make what's happening in the country and the world clearer.
I'll try to keep Rick to the minimum number of F bombs and try to keep our kids, pets and other wildlife sounds from invading our respective bunkers.
I recall said hi. My daughter asked what's going on?
You know, prison break, that sort of thing. That's good. Yeah, I just went through a tunnel covered in human feces to escape from a hellish prison. We called Trump ism. And here we are, free at last, reveling The Shawshank Redemption. So I have to ask you, because speaking of shanking, I noticed that you and the congressman from the 1st District of Kuhnen had a little brouhaha this weekend.
I mean, I wouldn't call it that, but I did have a setu.
Yeah, she's come to D.C. This would be Marjorie Taylor Green, congresswoman from 1st District. Accutron, right.
I wonder who she replaced if she replaced someone equally as awful. I mean, I did make fun of her because she said if she used the phrase my body, my choice when referring to not wanting to wear a mask, which is, of course, a expression that is used by the pro-choice community. So I may have suggested that she might also be pro-choice, which got her just enraged because, well, she won't wear a mask if she does not want anyone to have control over their own uteruses.
I think that that was probably a red line that she should not have crossed with you because that type of Trumpy and thuggery is not welcome in your home.
But you know, what's interesting to me about Marjorie Taylor Green is she's Georgia's 14th district. She wrote this. She went on wave. She was sort of fancy. And I had money because I read a piece, the Democratic challenger who dropped out wrote about all the abuse he got from the Kuhnen people. And that's why he dropped out. He dropped out from illness. But he also he mentioned that he got a quite a bit of abuse from the Q and A and also, you know, it's an R plus what I don't.
Jilian Yeah. So it's not exactly a district where Democrats love to run.
It's twenty seven hour plus twenty seven point seven, as I as I mentioned, Jilian, an hour plus twenty seven.
But it is interesting to me, I feel like since the election Kuhnen has they have like a new character.
Yes. It's called, it's called your friendly brain. But there hasn't been many Q drops lately.
Right now here's the thing. The pig farmer and his various cohorts, like any miracle cult that claims doomsday is coming, the meteor will soon strike, etc., unless they actually convince you to drink the Kool-Aid and actually convince you to join them on the comet. And the comet never comes.
At some point they're like, oh, yeah, our fates saved us.
Yeah, that's the ticket when it is, in fact, just one more endless twist in the scam. So the E character is apparently emerging now. It's a LARP. The whole thing is just a bullshit LARP. And the fact that members of Congress who are going to sit on committees are actually going to believe that shit. And look, I don't even blame Mergenthaler Green. She is a opportunistic fuckwit from Deliverance, Georgia, and God bless her. But that woman has played this thing to the hilt, just like a Jim Jordan or a Matt Gates.
She's decided she's going to be or somebody said today, don't tweet at her, she's going to be the next Michele Bachmann. And I'm thinking, of course she's going to be the next Michele Bachmann. That's what she wants. She's a weaponized money suck for crazy people. And so that's why she's going to flirt with Q and all this other bullshit, I thought. And to stay out of northwest Georgia.
Yeah, this is the Republican Congress like they are a lot of dumb Dems. I mean, Louie Gohmert, right. Devin Nunez. Right. Clay Higgins. I mean, it is a virtual cornucopia of stupid playing.
Higgins now there is a particular rocket scientist right there.
So I'm just so I don't know. I mean, a lot of them are from Texas, but a lot of them are from the south. And I'm not sure that Marjorie Taylor Greene, I mean, she's a certain flavor of sort of sort of deranged, but I'm not convinced she's actually stupider than a Louie Gohmert.
Well, I mean, Molly, let's be fair. If I went out somewhere and like this edge of my swamp and found a slime mold growing on a log or something, it could probably outthink Louie Gohmert. Right.
But, yeah, look, I suspect I have a sense of this woman that she doesn't believe any of this shit. She's just playing the. Role and tried to, like, run the thing out as long as she can sustain the scam and keep up the grift, but who knows? It's a bad look, obviously, for a member of Congress to even pretend to believe in Kuhnen. But there are so many of them now that do are there.
Well, I'm sorry that do pretend to believe in it. Really?
Yeah. Warren Bellbird in Colorado, Lauren Bobert, this Mergenthaler Green. And I'm still trying to run it down, but I was told that a certain congressman from Florida not named Matt Gates, I'm still trying to run this one down in a small group recently was caught on camera saying, well, I follow you. I don't know what to make of it, but it's it's got to mean something.
And the guy the guy is clearly playing these frickin rubes. I'm like, oh, for God's sake.
I mean, yeah, I think when you sort of weaponized your base to that level of stupid, it's not hard to see how this happened.
I would just like to once again tell our viewers and for those of you monitoring, I don't think the Trump campaign's monitoring every word we say anymore because there's no Trump campaign. But I just like to remind our listeners that I am I I've always been.
Q So what's happening with the Trump campaign?
Well, far, far away. In the before time there was a land when the Trump campaign raised one point one nine billion dollars and they proceeded using the resources of space for force to build Breadbaskets Deathstar. Now, the phase of the movie that we're in is I'm dancing around with a bunch of fucking E walks and the Death Star is a smoldering wreck in orbit. So, no, this is the Trump campaign is no more. I mean, it's a ghost town.
These kids are. All right. Well, they're mostly gone now.
One of my sources inside the campaign, I wrote this person a very nice grad school recommendation letter. Good luck. Wish you well.
You did this source say that it's still going on.
The source said on the on their last day on Friday that essentially right now it's Jason Miller and Bill Stepien trying to convince reporters there's a miracle in the wings and everyone else is like, oh, fuck, what am I going to do now? So.
So you think there are still people there that are now? I think there are probably a handful of people still there.
And their rapid response, Twitter people are still going or now, I'm sure I'm sure they have nothing else they can do.
I mean, Matt, walking's out of luck. You think he still has a job?
Oh, I know a lot of them are gone on Friday because it was the 15th, which is the traditional campaign end date. But I am quite convinced that the skeleton crew that's left is not going to pull off a legal miracle, especially because, as we well know now, the legal team is either de facto or dispirited by a very famous free lawyer who may be familiar with that one.
Rudolph Giuliani, a lot of people think that Trump may just go to Mar a Lago and never come back. Do you think that I think they're going to have to grind him out?
Well, I still think they are going to have to basically drag him out. I think they're going to leave the place a mess. I mean, that's the goal. He's not going to give us a final flush on the golden toilet, let's put it that way. And I think he's going to be as cranky and bitchy and small and shitty as he could possibly be, right? No, no doubt in my mind that this is not a guy who's going to go gracefully.
Do you think at some point this week, now that all of these Republican governors have said that they are not planning on overturning the election results and it's really over? George is going to certify on Friday. Do you think that Mitch says it's enough now?
No, he never says it's enough. Mitch is going to keep pretending until the 6th of January after the election is over, win or lose. On that day, he will suddenly say that everything's done and we're and we're we finished and the world is over. You know, I must now move on to either other block, Joe Biden completely or cooperate with our new president. You never know which way it's going to go. The really interesting question, like the like the billion dollar question here for Georgia is this.
By November 5th, even the most diehard Trump supporters in the great state of Georgia are all going to realize that Donald Trump will not be putting his hand on that Bible.
Right, January 5th, on January 5th. It's not happening. Everybody will know it by then. They will all be aware that it is done.
Well, how will they know it? Because a lot of Republicans right now think that the Electoral College will have declared it.
They'll say, oh, he was treated all around, blah, blah, blah. But it will not change the fact that he's not going to put his hand on the Bible on the 20th and swear the oath. I wouldn't be surprised if he has, like, his own alternative swearing in ceremony somewhere.
That's really terrifying. Yeah. Yeah. It kind of is a horrifying prospect. So did you did you watch the festivities this weekend in D.C.? You know, I. Did not you didn't you didn't watch the hillbilly hike, it's the Million Man March, and there were no there were there were a couple of thousand MAGOS Right.
The thousand toothless travaille million Magomedov. I'm sure there will now be a breathless Breitbart article. Residents everyday Americans elitist.
During the Million Man March, they led a chant of Fox News socks.
Well, you know, Fox, as the bloom is off the rose with Fox, there's a sad and mournful moment in time where Fox is no longer no longer given the the love they once had.
It feels like they're addicts and Fox News cannot deliver the same. Hi.
Yeah, they're chasing the Haroldswick Dragon and it's not working.
I mean, even though Fox is still playing with the not accepting the election results and they're hardly good actors in this in any way, they do seem to be slightly more tethered to the truth than an omen or a Newsmax who are not accepting election results at all.
I certainly see a lot more, I think in the last 48 hours of Fox slowly, you know, slipping in commentators who would say things like, no, there's absolutely nothing to these accusations of voter fraud.
The evening opinion hosts are still going strong and Judge Fox was allowed to return on Saturday. I didn't know that. Yes, she was on on Saturday. And she it was a line up of some of the worst people I've ever, you know, I mean, just the worst uncle bad touch, Lou Dobbs, Lou Dobbs.
But it was like him. Jordan, you know, was all the president's dumb Republican congressmen.
By the way, since our last show, I've been obsessing about one thing and one thing. And you know what it is right now?
I don't it's someday going to grace the pages of TMZ and perhaps even be the subject of a Netflix show called The Orange Crown. I am fascinated by whatever the fuck Matt Gates and Tiffany Trump are doing.
Oh, yeah. No, I have also been really obsessed with that. You saw that they tweeted out a picture of them having dinner together. I feel like it's so stupid.
They're probably going to get married and they are going to have the dumbest children. I'm excited because their children will be so stupid. They're going to definitely be president, a Republican. That stupid has to be president. Do you feel like the really good bargain to hear is that it's like Trump gives back Gates attention, that this is how he finally gets attention from her dad?
Probably. It probably did call Matt Gates. Rick Gates, yes. So he's not it's not that much attention. But yes, I think that's true.
It's better than the alternative. I'm calling him Bill Gates. And then there was a conspiracy theory about his birth in Providence and God knows where things would go at that point.
The Matt Gates Tiffany Trump saga is horrendous and horrendous.
I think there were some interesting articles this weekend, too, about a source familiar with Ivonka thinking, mused that perhaps if you mean that's all right. I mean, a source familiar with Jared Kushner is thinking of Jared Kushner or his two PR agencies. He resists. Right. Said that maybe they'll go to Florida or maybe they'll stay in New Jersey.
OK, I think that the idea of them staying in New Jersey is so delicious that it could never happen.
New Jersey is nice. God does not love us enough for that.
A source familiar with the thinking of Ivanka Trump said that it would be good for Ivanka to be in Florida because of her political career.
Get the fuck out of here, Governor Ivanka. Let me tell you something. She comes to Florida. All hell breaks loose.
What he's going to Florida and also in this article. A source familiar with Ivanka Trump's thinking said that she will not live in Mar a Lago because she has a frosty relationship with her stepmother.
Oh, isn't that sweet? It's like she thinks she thinks Monica is going to live in Mar a Lago, maybe for a little.
I suspect there's a there's a part of Molineux thinking I will not let the door hit on us.
Hey, Molly. Yeah.
So I know you were very pleased last week. You wrote a great piece about your vaccine experience with the Pfizer vaccine. But it looks like now there is a another ray of sunshine on our horizon with the Moderna vaccine.
It's interesting because they both have about the same efficacy rate. The Dorna Pfizer said it's 90 percent, but it's really ninety four. So it's about the same. But the Madama has this huge advantage of not being not needing to be stored at negative 80 degrees. Right.
In like liquid helium to transport it. Right. So I think that's good. I mean, I think we're going to see now we're talking to Carl Zimmer from The Times and we were just talking about now they all have to file for these emergency use authorizations. And he said the files are like there are a hundred thousand patient.
Get the fuck out of here. That's crazy. They're going to have to file for the emergency use and then get approved. And then from there, it's still going to be weeks and weeks. Wow.
Well, look, it's better that it's out there than it's not right now. And it's amazing.
It's better than there's this possibility than any possible alternative. And it's good that it's good that the Moderna thing can be transported without heroic measures. That's that makes it more practicable in every way.
Yeah, no, I mean, it's great, but it's still like we're looking at a mid-December for frontline workers in January and then February, March for everyone else. So it's not I being you know, we still have months and months of uncontrolled spread. Yeah, for sure.
It could be painful if people weren't assholes.
Well, it could be controlled if we had a federal government. I don't know really. What is Trump doing in the White House all day? Because he's not legislating and he's not I mean, what is he doing in there?
I have a theory and it's very simple. It's very straightforward. I think the guy has is in mental collapse. I think he's basically cycling between outright depression and delusion. I think he's got twenty seven different people in his ear now. I think he's got Jared Devika, who, from what we're hearing, they've told him, wrap it up. It's done.
He's got the boys who are telling him, no, we could still womb.
So you're saying there's a chance and he's got Rudy and that fucking clack of lunatics around him saying you could still pull this out. We're going to we're going to we'll sue. And now Sydney Powell is on board because she's not a hot bag of fucking crazy.
Can you explain to Sydney Power's Sydney Powell is a fringe attorney in DC who before this new claim to fame, represented the extremely creamy tracery Teresina Putin, Felic and Turko Felic, Michael J. Flynn, former national security adviser to the United States of America, and also a man who perjured himself to the FBI repeatedly.
She's completely wacky. She's an edge case. She's she's a kook, the law firm of Powell and Goroka, because as only a matter of time, Sepak is not a lawyer, which makes it easy.
How do you know that? Do you know he is not a lawyer? He could have been given a law degree by the honorable order of the Hungarian. Draga Yeah, that makes.
Neera Tanden is the president of the Center for American Progress, as well as a veteran of a few different presidential transitions, one of the many things I want to talk to you about today is you've been in or involved in many, many Democratic administrations.
And how many transitions have you actually been in?
Oh, I worked in the 2008 transition and I worked in the twenty sixteen transition before the election. I would say didn't work out so well post-election, but I definitely participated in two transitions.
So what's happening right now seems unusual.
Well, there's many unusual aspects of it. I mean, usually when the president has lost, he concedes. And so that part is pretty unusual. It definitely seems to slow down the process a little bit. And I think that's kind of deeply challenging. And the fact that we have the General Services Administration know, flouting the very basic norm, that they should have already turned over services to the Bush administration or to the incoming Biden transition. That's outrageous and abnormal, I would say.
On the other hand, Joe Biden has more experience with government and the people who worked with him on the campaign. Most of them have governing experience as well. And so these transition teams are new, the agencies inside and out. And I think really the challenge is just to know how much damage has been done. It's not that the Biden transition doesn't understand what has, you know, how the agency should work. It's what they don't understand is how the agencies have worked under Trump.
And I imagine there's a fair amount of not trying to bury the bodies.
Yeah, I wondered about that, too. They've moved all of these Trump loyalists into the Pentagon and NSA. And I'm curious to know, what are you like? What are you are you concerned about that and how much I'm concerned about it?
I guess I'd say it this way. I think the Defense Department, they've been the most sort of oppositional to Trump in a sense that you don't just bow down to him. Now, the truth is that the Pentagon has a lot of generals who have to implement things. So I think that's more about trying to bury information or just be punitive.
I'm less worried about launching a war or something because I just think there's so much opposition to that. And also, the truth is, like everyone in these agencies who's not a Trump loyalist knows exactly what's going on, which is that, you know, soon Trump will no longer be president and these apparatchiks will not be in the government. They will be fired. And so they know that it's just a matter of time. And the people and the agencies can definitely make things move slower if they see damaging things coming down the pike.
There's been a lot of attention paid to this. Emily Murphy from GSA, who's like a mid-level bureaucrat who refuses to sign off on the transition. Is this really this one woman, I mean, or is there is this larger situation?
Well, I mean, it's up to she does have the authority to make this decision. I mean, the big problem is that what's striking about the situation we're in is how little anyone seems to care about the fact that we're in a pandemic. And I mean, like it's just accepted that you'd act like in an incredibly gross political way, which will have no real impact other than to slow the Biden administration's ability to address the pandemic. I mean, I obviously can't speak to what's happening in the Mouskouri around, but now that we have vaccines, you know, the central issue for the Biden transition is to ensure that they can move the vaccine out to mass distribution as soon as possible.
So it's actually helpful for them to understand who has already contacted, how are they dealing with the pharmaceutical companies and all the infrastructure that needs to get built up and created to distribute a vaccine like this. And these are very basic technical issues that you need to know that you certainly need to get into the agency to understand. I mean, really what they're doing is for their own political narrative and it's not going to have any actual impact. It's just for political narrative.
Right. They are ensuring that it will take a longer to mass distribute a vaccine.
That's what I keep thinking about it, which will mean that it will take longer to save people's lives when and during a global pandemic that just. Literally means you may face unnecessary deaths because of their slow walking, a transition which has nothing to do with anything other than feeding the defeated president's ego.
I'm correct, too, that when you were a part of that transition with Obama, since we were going through another crisis, then the Bush kind of handed the keys to Obama and some of the economic levers during that. Is that correct?
You know, I have to say the Bush administration was a thousand percent welcoming of the the Obama transition. They was they were supportive. They signed all the paperwork immediately to ensure that Obama could have a transition that started properly and quickly. All the agencies were already you know, the agency review teams were already in the agencies by now. Barack Obama actually obviously competed against John McCain for being nominated for the presidency. But, you know, he'd been pretty critical of George Bush, but he didn't have a temper tantrum about what happened in the election.
It's sort of amazing. A lot of Republicans are saying they're sort of humoring Trump in order to not they're sort of behind closed doors saying they're humoring Trump in order not to alienate his base so that they can win Georgia.
Is that what you're seeing? Do you think that's what's going on? Or do you think this is sort of more nefarious even than that?
I think what seems to be happening is that Republicans are petrified of the base of the party, which does seem to me to be more beholden to Donald Trump than than Republicans in the Senate or in the House. And I think that they like to tell themselves they're hammering Donald Trump, but really what they're doing is exceeding to him. And now there's a reality in the world. And I think, you know, actually most Americans understand that Joe Biden will be president.
And the kind of death grip that is the incredible Trump has on the Republican base is not incredible. Hold has on the country since he was defeated and more likely to be defeated by seven million votes in a very high turnout election. But I you know, I just think they like to tell themselves that they have the dog, but they're like, actually, you know, the dog has that. So I don't know how this resolves itself. I don't actually know if Donald Trump wants a Democratic Senate.
Maybe he wants it and wants a Republican Senate. Maybe he wants a Democratic Senate. You know, I just think it's a very complicated scenario. I do think the vice president, Vice President Biden and President elect Biden is handling this well, which is this will be resolved. He will be president. He will do. He is focused on solving people's problems and being a good president. And I think ultimately that will come through.
You do a lot of interviews with people, especially like people like Masha Gessen, where they talk about just how close we've kind of gotten to autocracy and how scary that is. And, you know, if Trump does concede, American democracy will have survived this. But do you think at all about, like, how we come back from this and what are the things we can do so America never gets into this kind of thing again?
You know, I think the most important thing to do is to try to govern effectively, to solve people's problems. I think I think Biden has an actual unique opportunity, which is that the virus can be an effective proof point for people in governing. And this is obviously a very different time. But you could have in a year or two people see this as the kind of large scale break we saw in nineteen thirty two. Right. To nineteen thirty two.
You know, there's a big repudiation, but we're really also happened in the midterms. Why FDR did so well in the midterms and in the future was that Hoover had an attitude towards government. We had a he had a governing philosophy that exacerbated the Great Depression a little bit. Rand Paul perhaps.
Right, exactly. And FDR had almost an inverse, almost the opposite view. And his view did seem to have results. So that here the question is Donald Trump sort of ignored the virus. It kind of went out of control. Joe Biden could come in to president in his presidency. And essentially, you know, he's a lot of executive power to distribute the vaccine effectively and therefore really prove to people that an effective government could actually address this problem.
And, you know, whether you're a Republican or even the Republican base, while they don't accept the virus in the same way that other people do, they will benefit from an economy that is actually truly opened up. So I guess what I'd say is that I think that the country has real problems with misinformation and disinformation. And I. The platforms are a central component of undermining faith and democracy, which I think we have to think through how we sell for over the next several years.
But I also think Biden has some assets going forward to actually not only deliver on the results of this election, but really improve people's lives in ways that they can sort of feel tangibly. I mean, I worked on the Affordable Care Act and it took years for people to actually feel that here's a situation where people can sort of see a government acting like a rational government is not going to press is that kind of daily press conferences where he talks about, like injecting yourself with bleach.
So that's like that's a Bargewell clear.
I have a question for you about the political calculus. A lot of people seem to be two camps in Washington. One camp is saying Biden has worked with Mitch McConnell before. He's going to be able to get Mitch McConnell not, you know, not to be obstructionist the way that Mitch McConnell was clearly with Obama and the other camp is like Mitch McConnell is so incredibly evil that you won't be able to work with him. Do you have a hot take on this?
Because I feel like ultimately this is going to be a big part of I mean, unless Democrats win Georgia.
Yeah, I see. I don't know honestly what the calculus is here. I mean, the one thing that I would say to people is the shifting coalitions. You know, there's been a lot about the shifting coalitions. And one thing to keep in mind is that one of the reasons why Democrats did so well in the twenty eighteen midterm is that they tend to skew a little bit more towards college educated voters. And that is, you know, so I do think in in the midterms there are challenges for both sides.
But I wouldn't say that it's the same calculus it was before for McConnell. I don't know. I mean, I honestly don't have a good sense. My instinct is to obstruct again. On the other hand, just because he's done that before, I mean, there are a bunch of there are Republicans who are talking about how, you know, you could see kind of grand negotiations around at least an expansive covid package and infrastructure. I mean, one thing that Republicans have to deal with is that no Republican has ever done as well with white non college voters.
I mean, those voters a lot of people came out there, Trump voters, they're not McConnell voters. And so, you know, is he going to obstruct a 15 dollar minimum wage or a big infrastructure package that has a focus on jobs? He can do that, but that does create some class pressure for him in his own in this coalition that has came together under Trump near since you've actually been a part of these transitions.
I know during the Roosevelt era, they shortened I all the transition was by two months. Do you think you need this much time or should we be kicking these lame ducks out faster?
You know, generally, I think you actually you know, I think the transition is an important time to really get a handle on it.
I mean, usually you're not worried about, like, existential threats to democracy in the interim period. So that that adds that adds like sort of a hurry to it. But I guess I would say that with a normal functioning transition, it is helpful to actually, you know, understand what's happening. You know, the president usually has to develop a budget. It's really important to get a sense of where things are to understand where you have to go.
Again, I would say one of the good things about President elect Biden and Vice President elect Harris is they have you know, they have governing experience. Joe Biden actually knows his way around the White House pretty well. It is. Ron Klain knows his way around the how the White House really well. They don't actually need to, like, figure out where things are. On the other hand, there's a lot of work to do in these agencies.
I mean, there's a lot to reverse in these agencies. There's a lot of things to root out in these agencies. And I think an element of all of this is just, you know, putting off the inevitable accountability. And so, you know, I think that might be a key element of what's happening here.
My criticism, and I feel like you may have this criticism, too, is that Democrats often feel that because they're the good guys, they should win. Will Biden be merciless in removing some of these really scary political appointees that Trump has put in? And, you know, some of those as we as Jesse and I just did an interview about this last week where they he put in political appointees and have made them now career officials. Yeah.
And do you think that Biden will really be merciless in removing those people? Because they are, you know, sort of set up to obfuscate and continue to trump his own?
So I like to know I don't think it's merciless. I think it's just good. I hope so. I'm just I'm just saying I think it's good government to ensure that people in these agencies are public servants. I think that should be the issue across the board. So if there are people who've come in who've been placed in career positions to sort of hunker down, I think that is a challenge. Know, assuming they're not willing to actually do the job of these agencies.
And we remember I mean, if you stand back like at a sixty thousand foot level, a lot of these political appointees have been basically battling the agencies. They're part of, you know, the the political the political appointees have been fighting the climate scientists at EPA for four years. So, you know, my take on this is really you should just look at the mission of the agency and see if the person is is is working on that mission.
And if they're not, you know, that person should be removed as much as anyone else is not functioning towards a mission. And so, you know, I think there's a lot of cleanup that has to happen here and that it will take a fair amount of time. And I think that's a little bit what's happening with this transition, which is that they just want to obfuscate that as long as possible.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Oh, you know, the issue is like, you know, apparently when you're fighting for the soul of the country, it doesn't end.
Before we get into things, we have a fun little treat. There are so many insane things happening in the world right now and two episodes a week just aren't enough to cover it all. So the new abnormal is going to release a limited run series of bonus interviews over the next few weeks for beast inside members only. We'll release a new one each Sunday. But listen carefully. Only beast inside members will have access to these. So head over to the new abnormal DOT, The Daily Beast dot com to become a beast inside.
No, now that's new abnormal dot the Daily Beast dot com. Carl Zimmer is a columnist with The New York Times. Hi, Carl. I'm very excited to have you. Welcome to The New Abnormal. Thanks for having me. You also do this amazing vaccine dashboard, which is like one of the most useful public services that the Times has. I'm curious to know, how did you get started with that and how complicated is that? Because it actually seems really quite complicated.
Well, it actually sort of came about because I was having a hard time keeping the vaccine straight in my head. My editor would come to me every now and then say, like, so. So what's AstraZeneca doing? I mean, it's like back in May, you know? And this is so weird because, like, you know, we're not used to like, you know, dozens of teams getting into the vaccine race all at once.
So I was after a while, I was like, I can't I don't remember. Hold it. I have to make a spreadsheet. You know, whenever memory problems, I make a spreadsheet. And so I made a spreadsheet and I share with my editor and she is like, oh, well, we should just put this out as like a tracker.
And I was like, yeah, great idea.
So we teamed up with our graphics guru, Jonathan Khorram, who makes everything look beautiful. And then we're off to the races. And yeah, it's been incredibly successful in terms of the audience because people just want to know where they want to get a sense of where are we with these things or what's the latest, you know, and even stuff not in the United States, like when Vladimir Putin suddenly announced in August, like our vaccine, it's registered.
It works so that people are like, what?
So we got that news right on the track as fast as we could just to just to fill people in.
Yeah, I'm obsessed with the China vaccine stuff because there's really I mean, they vaccinated like a large percentage of their army.
Yeah. I mean, it's it's I mean, there are there there are cities that are just like handing out the vaccine like candy.
And I mean, they haven't gotten that phase three clinical trial data that actually shows you if it works or not.
It's not just like barging ahead. It's I'm I mean, I hope it works for their sake, but we just don't know yet.
You know, what's so funny is I think I wrote to you before. Can I write to you before I went to Pfizer?
I think you were. Yeah. You you were letting me know that you were going to be doing that.
Yeah, I was in absolute state before I did it. And I broke Eric Topol and to you and to my friend Howard for a minute. Yeah. And because I wanted to make sure I wasn't you know, I have all these children and I don't want to die and it end up being totally fine and actually great. But it was it's so interesting because for normal people, medical trials are not a normal phenomenon. And all of a sudden, like, are these the largest medical trials in history?
No, no, no. Can you put it in context?
Let's put it in perspective. So you're in the Pfizer trial at forty four thousand people. That's a lot of people. That's great.
But there are there have been childhood vaccine trials that have had 70000 people. I mean, that's not a you know, it's standard. It's what you have to do to know if these things work and they're safe and they're they're effective. But, you know, these things have always, ah, gone under the radar. I mean, people have not paid so much attention. So, I mean, it's not hasn't been news. You know, like I I was interviewing, you know, the chief scientific officer of Johnson Johnson about a pause they had to part of their trial.
That's right. I remember it. Well, it's back going now, right?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Like in about a week or week and a half, it was back up again. And I was like I was like, so everyone wants to know about this pause. And he's like, well, we had this one report, we're looking into it. And I was like, So is this, you know, how unusual is this? And he's like, if we sent out a press release every time we had a pause in a trial, I mean, it would be so boring.
Things get paused all the time because you want to be careful. It's standard, but no one is aware of it until we're, you know, in a pandemic.
Yeah, it's interesting because my study doctor, Dr. Oh. At Yale, who is now in his now against his well, my new best friend was telling me that we were talking about the AstraZeneca and I was like, oh, it's past. And he was like one case of transverse myelitis and she's home like it shouldn't be part, you know, the infectious disease doctors who run these trials are kind of incredible.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, they're they're keeping track of all sorts of things all at once and all these different people. And then and then, you know, trying to figure out like, well, I was, you know, is this problem and can we rule out the vaccine or should we look closer? I mean, it's super complex.
What do you think about these MRN vaccines? Because it looks like that's going to be our first wave of vaccines.
A lot of the experts I talked to were we were thinking like, well, you know, maybe that'll work. I mean, they've never been used, you know, as a licensed vaccine before.
So, you know, I might it might be a good stopgap measure.
And then, you know, and then we'll get better vaccines later, you know. So people were coming in with low expectations. You know, the FDA said fifty per. If you're 50 percent effective, that's good enough, that'll make a difference. And then here they just come waltzing in with like ninety four percent effective, over 90 percent effective. And it's like, whoa, OK, this is this is a different game.
Do you think that, Amani, vaccines are the future of vaccines? I've heard this anecdotally, but, you know, I don't know.
I mean, I think there will be a part of the future of vaccines. This is going to be fascinating to see what what happens once we get past this pandemic, because they do have the certainly have a big advantage in that like you to to create a new vaccine.
You just need to just put the letters of a gene on your computer and then just order order yourself up some RNA and you're off to the races. It's a lot easier than growing viruses and then inactivating them with chemicals, which is the traditional way of doing it. So they've got speed.
There are traditional vaccines in the pipeline. When do you think those will come online?
Well, you know, in China, they're they've got the right things that, you know. Yeah, yeah. No, I'm in Russia, too. Right.
Well, Russia no, Russia is actually the same sort of the AstraZeneca. Right. AstraZeneca, Johnson Johnson.
So what they do is they use another virus called the DNA virus, and they loaded with a gene from the coronavirus. And so basically the adenovirus gets into your cell. It doesn't make you sick, can't replicate. But now the gene is in your cell and you start making this this this protein from the virus.
Should they should I mean, you know, chances are they're going to work to because they're making the same protein. The spike protein seems to be, you know, just a really good target. People are telling me that in July, I mean, they had as vaccines go, this is not going to be that hard. It's just that we're in the middle of a pandemic, which makes it crazy.
I also heard that same thing, that it does mutate very much and the spike proteins are easy to target. You know, it's funny because my husband I just got my husband to get in the AstraZeneca trial. So we're a two trial marriage.
You're not secretly hoping that he gets sick. Right.
And it's interesting, though, because you were so psyched. They gave him 50 bucks and he was like they gave me cash. But I'm curious to know, why do you think that the vaccines have had a really pretty amazing trajectory and the treatments have not?
Yeah, I've been I've been puzzling over this. I think that the sort of the vaccine world was really primed for this because they have had repeatedly you suddenly been faced with epidemics, you know, whether it's SARS, the flu, and in 2009, Ebola. And they're like, oh, like, well, we knew it would be great to have a vaccine now rather than years from now. And so they've been trying to figure out, like, how do we do this faster?
And people have been developing our vaccines as a way to do it faster. People have said, like, OK, we need to like the risk, the finances of this by just telling people, like, go build the factory, it's OK. Like we're going to cover these costs. You know, we're going to guarantee that we're going to buy lots of vaccines if it's safe and effective. So they were ready. Yeah, with antivirals, you know, I mean, we've got Ramdas of year, which is, you know, doesn't actually reduce mortality.
Monoclonal antibodies are look like they could be really promising. They're not in big supply. They're hard to make at scale. They're going to be scarce and expensive and they have to be given early to really be effective. And you've got to give them as an I.V. like in the clinic or hospitals. But that's a really challenging thing. It would be if there was like a Tamiflu for COGAT, that would be so great. You combine home testing with with a Tamiflu like kill, you pick up at the drugstore.
We could just save so many lives, but that doesn't exist yet. There are a few things in the pipeline that might might be that. But they're not here yet, unfortunately. But the vaccines are going to be here yet either they're not going to be at the spring.
Right. It is to me, kind of amazing, though, that we didn't, because I was sure I mean, from what I knew from the doctors, I knew that what I was hearing was that we would have some kind of really pretty good antiviral or the monoclonal moles by July. And that just never happened, even though the monoclonals are in some ways related to the vaccine, right? Yes.
Yeah. I mean, the monoclonal antibodies are basically like you're just pumping yourself full of really effective antibodies, whereas with the vaccine, you're basically teaching your own immune system to make them and have them on ready supply. It took longer than people thought. I mean, part of it was, you know, part of it is it's like it's I mean, for for a vaccine to test a vaccine. I mean, doctors can test it on you, a healthy person, whereas like in order to see if an antiviral is going to actually save someone's life, you got to find somebody who is.
With it, you've got to line up all the the consent and everything, I mean, that's that's a challenge. And, you know, and people think when people are already sick and you tell them like, well, we want to test this drug, so we'll give either give you the drug or give you a placebo and then you're on your own.
Like, that's a hard sell. People would much rather say, like, oh, I heard about this hydroxyl chloroquine. I want that. Give me that. And so these trials have really struggled. I mean, I've heard about, you know, we had, you know, the big burst of cases like in places like New York and then like people wanted to, like, work on a trial like in July.
And they were just they were gone. Yeah. Yeah.
There weren't enough people to test it on. Sadly, that's not a problem now. So I hope that people jump on it right now and run a lot of trials at once.
It's funny because, I mean, it's not funny. It's quite tragic that Trump talked about hydroxy chloroquine again and again and again and had his life saved by monoclonals.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah. Dr. Clark, when the saga was just a total it was a total disaster for science. I mean, all sorts of trials got got started on it. I mean, and there's still trials running on it, even though there's just overwhelming evidence from from the biggest, most effective trials.
This just doesn't work. It doesn't work. And it doesn't work in animals. It doesn't work. You know, it doesn't work in real randomized clinical trials. It does work if you're a cell in a dish. But, you know, a lot of drugs work if you're selling a dish. But we're not cells in a dish.
I'm curious to know how many people got sick from taking the hydroxyl chloroquine. But we don't know that because of the there hasn't been really, I think, accurate reporting from the states on how people are dying. I think.
Well, yeah, well, I don't think we'll know. And how many people how many people suffered because they had lupus or something where they couldn't get the Hydroxycut Clark and they needed because the market was so scarce.
It's not the thing with these Amarone vaccines is they are complicated. Can you talk to me about vaccine rollout? Yeah.
So so these emergency vaccines, what you do is you come up with that genetic sequence you need for your RNA and then you make that RNA molecule. You sort of piece together the building blocks and then you have to wrap up that RNA molecule in a little oily bubble and you put lots of these oily bubbles in in syringes. And then they have to be kept really cold because RNA is very delicate and they don't have preservatives in them.
Right. Yeah, and it just it's just the you know, the nature of RNA is that they follow these molecules fall apart easily. And so they have to be kept in a deep, deep freeze. Now, we have these two Amarone vaccines that have really promising results. Really, the only big difference I can tell is that just because of the recipe for them, Pfizer has to be kept a lot colder than Moderna.
Yeah. Can you talk about that for a minute? Because I am very curious to know why that is.
It has to do as I understand it with that that bubble, that oily bubble that the RNA is kept in, that that Fyssas is just more sensitive to warmth than Moderna for whatever reason. So for Fizer, you have to keep their vaccine at a minus one hundred and twelve degrees Fahrenheit just from as soon as it comes out of the factory. It's got to be frozen, deep, frozen, and then all through transportation has got to be kept that cold and it's got to be basically kept that cold until almost you're ready to put it in someone's arm.
So whereas with Moderna, it's got to be cold, but it's only negative for Fahrenheit, which is all right. Balmier than than five.
And they've also found that, like, you know, once that's for transportation.
And then once you get it someplace, you can keep it in a regular fridge for thirty days and it's still OK.
Yeah, I was very surprised by that when I had my Fizer vaccine. I don't know. Again, we don't know if I got the placebo or not, but they have it Thore for half an hour, which is time consuming, especially considering you have two doses.
So you had to wait there for half an hour while at Ford.
Yeah. Actually have to wait half an hour before it's a whole complicated thing. But basically and this is true at Yale, I'm sure this isn't true at other hospitals, but you have to they have to go to where the experimental drugs are kept in a car. And then they put the medicine in dry ice. They drive the car even though it's like, you know, twenty feet away or something. They drive the car back, they get the vaccine, they let it off for half an hour.
They shoot it in your arm. And then you have to wait around a half an hour to make sure you don't have anaphylaxis, which nobody has had but is typically, you know, is sort of standard for these things.
Yeah, well, I mean, that's a trial. That's a classic clinical trial.
Like and this better not be that time consuming, you know, like for if we want millions of people to be getting that, you know, you want to be doing this assembly line fashion. So Pfizer is trying to make the best of this situation by actually designing boxes. Right, there are like nine hundred doses, right? Yeah, so they just they just load up these boxes, they're packed with dry ice and insulated and whatnot. And the idea is like that you just they get shipped and then you can just keep them, you know, in a doctor's office, I guess, and just take take them out as needed from from your visor box.
So we'll see. Yeah. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Now, there were some questions about the Madonna trial not being as responsive. They weren't releasing data quite as much as Pfizer. Have you seen that or has that been reconciled?
You know, there have been points in time where people have been asking Moderna and other companies like, what's going on? Where are you? And so on.
I mean, I think that honestly, I think all of all of these companies are getting used to what it's like to do vaccine research in the public eye.
Yeah. Just, you know, like this stuff usually just happens without people really paying much attention. So, you know, for example, like to do these trials. You know, actually, these companies have to come up with very long protocols that that that the FDA allows them to follow and then they have to follow those rules. But no one ever looks at these protocols before.
And now everyone that we're asking.
OK, so when you when you get to look early, like how many cases do you need? And are you going to look at severe cases versus more cases, mulbah.
And then we know it's all written down someplace or basically like I think we reporters really forced them to just cough up their protocol. So we have all the protocols now, which is great.
That is great for Moderna and these other are these other outlets. So, yeah, I mean, actually, you know, this with this latest dump of news from Moderna, they've actually been a little more detailed.
And Pfizer was I mean, they they told us exactly how many patients, how many subjects who got sick had the placebo versus the the vaccine.
There were ninety five people in total, 90 people got the placebo. We don't know that breakdown with Pfizer.
Right. And with the Moderna that was helpful was that of the people got sick who had the vaccine and none of them got very sick that Pfizer hasn't told us that yet either.
Fingers crossed that a similar thing, because what you want is for you, not only for the the vaccine to prevent most disease, but if you do get sick, it would be nice for it to keep it mild, you know, by just reducing the amount of viruses that grow inside of you from the initial look. That seems to be what's happening with Moderna. I mean, there was even a, you know, a vague possibility that everyone was really dreading that, you know, maybe the vaccine would actually enhance the disease.
Right. That just doesn't seem to be happening. Thank goodness.
Thank goodness. Yeah. So we're at fuck that guy. And who is your fuck that guy?
Well, he's responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. He is the president's only medical adviser at this point. And he recently lost his blue checkmark on Twitter. Dr. Scott Atlus.
Hey, Scott, I was a noted virologist or immunologist.
He's a radiologist. But some of our favorite very smart people are radiologists. So we can't pick up no hate on radiologists.
I'm just saying, if you're going to commit to killing a couple of million Americans through herd immunity.
Right. I would like to at least hope kind of sorta that you might know some fucking thing about.
Yeah. About the virus or immunology. But his his most recent excitement is that he threatened Governor Wimpier. That was yesterday.
I saw that. What a dipshit governor. Great.
You know, a man who is a friend of the show, a friend of the show and a favorite of our show had recently been the subject of a terrible kidnapping and murder plot by terrorists allied with the president of the United States.
That's right, Trump supporters. But I repeat myself. Exactly.
Rick, you often get what these Republicans end game is like, what maybe the tchotchkes of his career would be. What the hell does this guy think he's getting out of this? This is a true mystery, Jesse.
This guy has no discernible sort of ideological priors that I've been able to find other than, you know, stand for guy, conservative guy. I think there's some libertarian bullshit going on here that he doesn't want to admit to, but it sure smells like there's some kind of let them all die. God will know his own philosophy going on here.
It's really grand. If the poor want to survive, they learn to eat one another, right?
I mean, so grim. Horrible. And who's your fat? That guy.
I have a number of fucked this guys, as I tend to do lately during the million Magga Mumble this weekend where it was about ten thousand people, according to Park Police and others, like a million.
It's just like a million. It's just like I tell you to tell your bank that if you want to borrow money for something that, hey, I have a million dollars in the bank as collateral, 10000 thousand dollars. It's a million for sure.
For sure. It has ones and zeros in it. Hello anyway. There was a sort of cottage industry this weekend of taking these videos by these agitprop types like Andino and others and carefully eliding the things that that happen. There's one guy with a shirt on. It says Roma on the shirt. Everyone's seen this clip by now. And the clip they've seen is this white haired gentleman walking down the street and someone in a hood carrying a sign comes up and just cold cocks the shit out of him from behind.
So Ivanka Trump very offended. Yes.
How dare they when will the news media report what happens to conservatives? Well, if you had played the whole tape, the guy was running into a crowd, pushing people, hitting people, yelling at people, abusing people. And he played a game we call fuck around to find out. And he thought he was going to be able to go and slap people and jump into this crowd and yell people and abuse them. And he got knocked the fuck out.
But this is so typical of the bad faith horseshit of the Trump Republican world.
It's it for this poor old man. Well, you know, there's a lesson here and it's a lesson called fucking a rattlesnake.
What's now a fucking rattlesnake is not for me, just as like going into a crowd and trying to hit people and yell at them, make to get in a fight with me. It's not for me. There's some people in this world may want to fuck a rattlesnake. I don't know why. I don't know how. I don't even have a logistics of it.
OK, all right. Continue.
Why are you surprised when you're trying to fuck a rattlesnake and it turns around and bites you because this guy was fucking the rattlesnake, OK? He got out there and brought this shit down on himself and this whole cottage industry of Breitbart and the Federalist and and Ohayon and every other goddamn outlet breathlessly to.
Go fuck yourself, fuck that guy. On that note, we'll wrap up this episode of The New Abnormal for The Daily Beast. In future episodes, we'll be talking with smart folks from The Daily Beast and beyond, from media, culture, politics and science to help us understand what's happening to our country and the world.
We hope you'll subscribe to us on your favourite podcast app and share the show on social media. We're just getting started and don't want you to miss an episode if you'd like to follow us on Twitter. I'm Molly Chang Fast and he is the Rick Wilson. Thanks so much for listening and we'll see you again on the next episode.