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Michael Moore [00:01:48] This is Rumble, and I am Michael Moore. I don’t know what I am – livid, fearful, upset, angry, afraid. What the hell is going on in Michigan? I don’t want to take up a lot of everybody’s time today with this because I want to get to fixing this, fixing this as a Michigander. And I’ll just say this, this is personal to me, not just because I live there, whenever I’m not out making a movie somewhere, I’m there in Michigan. But I have not been there because I was in the middle of starting my next project last March here in New York (and not that I don’t want to be in New York. It’s a wonderful town.) But I had to make a decision and I thought it would be smarter to stay here. Little did I know that New York would become a death colony, and where one in every 300 New Yorkers would die.
Michael Moore [00:02:51] Where people would die in my apartment building. And I just kept thinking, why am I not in Michigan, why am I not in Michigan? I didn’t want to get on a plane and go to Michigan. I just stayed here and [thought] this will pass. It didn’t pass. And I began to have a number of experts, including my guest here today, Dr. Irwin Redlener. You’ve heard him before here on Rumble. He’s a renowned pediatrician, scholar, advocate for children’s health. He’s an expert on disaster preparedness. In 1987, Dr. Redlener, co-founded the Children’s Health Fund in New York City. And if you remember back in the day, if you were a fan of Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon wanted to help get Dr. Redlener to get these mobile units throughout the city of New York, especially in the poor neighborhoods, to bring health care to the people and especially to children.
Michael Moore [00:03:58] That’s the person we’re talking to here again today. He’s the author of two books, “Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Mega Disasters.” Well, we already knew this to be true. Why are we not prepared for mega disasters? Oh, this is the better part and what we can do now? And also “The Future Of Us: What The Dreams Of Children Mean for 21st Century America.” And also, let me just add this Dr. Redlener is very familiar with public health in the state of Michigan, because he and the Children’s Health Fund have brought mobile medical units to Flint, Michigan. So basically again, this is a doctor’s office on wheels in a city that needs it, perhaps more than any place else in this country. He went to Flint to help out and he and the Children’s Health Fund have done this now in many cities in need across the country. I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Irwin Redlener back here to Rumble. Dr. Redlener, thank you so much.
Dr. Redlener [00:05:07] Well, you’re very welcome, Michael Moore and I’m telling you your persistent voice on all of these matters has been really incredible. And I just want to acknowledge that. You have made a difference in American life for a very long time. Nonstop. So thank you.
Michael Moore [00:05:25] It’s kind of you to say that. But I feel like the work is not done.
Dr. Redlener [00:05:29] No, nobody’s work is done. I’m involved with public health and children and the pandemic, so that’s certainly so.
Michael Moore [00:05:36] So here in the last, let’s say, few months, and maybe this is just a result of me getting my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and you talk to anybody after they get that second shot, it’s like Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, skipping down the sidewalk. Oh my god, I think I’m going to live. It’s such a great feeling. Keep your mask on, because first of all, we are all part of this great experiment, because we don’t know Mr. Coronavirus. We’re still learning things about him. But I have to say, I started to get optimistic after the second shot and also seeing so many other millions get their vaccination. Wearing their mask, doing the basic things, keeping the social distance still. And then all of a sudden, what was happening, especially in my state of Michigan, became a state that has tripled the number of COVID cases and is now leading the country in the number of teenagers and young adults who are getting COVID. And I’m like, Wait a minute, what? What is going on here?
Michael Moore [00:06:56] You know, and I have advocated throughout the state of Michigan, come on, everybody, let’s get the shot. You know, I’ll go first. You’ll see I’m not going to drop like a fly. Of course, this upsets some people that I didn’t, but we’ll leave that to another show. But I’m just saying that things seem to be going better until they aren’t. Now pile on spring break. And pile on the Texas Rangers. Now we’ve got two teams to hate in Texas. The Texas Rangers for having 40,000 people in the stands the other day. And this goes along with the Houston Astros cheating scandal from a couple of years ago. Again, we won’t get into that today. But Dr. Redlener, I started a nonprofit many years ago, 15 years ago, in Michigan to restore old movie theaters and open them up as nonprofit art houses for the public. And two in the town I live in – Traverse City, Michigan. I essentially run these two movie theaters.
Michael Moore [00:08:03] We, my committee, my pandemic committee, and others we’re getting ready to make a plan to reopen these theaters later, possibly this summer or fall, and to bring back our summer film festival or at least some version of it. Now, remember, because these are non-profits, I don’t have to answer to shareholders. I don’t have to make a profit. I don’t have to go along with our good governor. She’s allowed theaters to reopen at 25 percent capacity, whatever. Fine. We decided not to do that. We wanted to set an example. There’s no rush. We’re so close. We’re so close. Why ruin it? What has happened here to Michigan in the last week or two? Because now I don’t know if we’re going to have a film festival. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to reopen these theaters. I will not reopen them, unless and until it is safe.
Dr. Redlener [00:09:03] Well, you know, first of all, this is quite eerie to me because two weeks ago, New York was the centerpiece of the new surge. And people were asking exactly the same question. It’s a little deja vu here going on because people were asking me, Why is there a new surge in New York? What’s happening? And that sort of died down. And now we have Michigan, maybe Wisconsin and maybe other places that are popping up, you know, just like a pandemic Whack-A-Mole, Michael. And there’s a lot of explaining to do here. And I think part of the introduction you said what is absolutely true is that we don’t actually know a whole lot. I mean, we know plenty, but nowhere near the full picture of what this virus is about. And what we particularly don’t know and what particularly makes the experts upset or distressed is that there’s a lot to be learned still about the mutations.
Dr. Redlener [00:10:04] We call them variants that have been popping up all over the world. And the longer we have festering venues, where the virus is rapidly replicating, it opens up more possibilities for new mutations to appear. And by the way, the current most prevalent form of the virus that we see in the United States now is the one that we imported from the UK not too long ago. And I’m telling you, it’s like no one would have predicted that would become the predominant one here. But we also have scary variants in South Africa and in Brazil and elsewhere.
Michael Moore [00:10:46] But the doctors in Detroit and at the University of Michigan have told me that they are now finding this UK variant in patients more than the old coronavirus from last year.
Dr. Redlener [00:11:00] Yes, I’m saying this is the thing. This is the new predominant virus that’s floating around in America, but it may not be the last mutation. We may get a mutation that is even more contagious, more deadly and potentially resistant to the vaccines that are out there. But I don’t want to really go there, we don’t really need to. But what we need to say right now about Michigan, Michael, is that we probably have some variants in Michigan that we’re not really familiar with yet. We’re not doing enough of what’s called genomic surveillance to determine specifically what’s out there. Although we do know that the U.K. variant is there. But that’s one factor. What are the variants waiting in the wings that have already started to manifest themselves in places like New York, Wisconsin and Michigan?
Dr. Redlener [00:11:50] The second thing, which is a little ironic in a way for some people, is that Michigan actually did a really good job of people staying on track with the wearing masks and distancing themselves. And so we have a lot more people who didn’t get sick, who may be vulnerable, especially these new variants, which is why we have to make sure we are not letting up on these public health protections for certainly right now until we get a good 80 percent of Americans vaccinated. So we’re in this kind of multiple race with how fast the vaccine viruses mutate and how fast we’re getting people vaccinated, how disciplined we are in sustaining those public health measures. And it’s a big crisis. I am concerned, but we haven’t lost the game. I think it’s really important to emphasize that. We’re going to beat this. You know, we have 560,000 fatalities so far from COVID-19. I’m afraid we’ll get to 600 or 700,000 before this is all over.
Dr. Redlener [00:13:02] But it could have been worse if I’m allowed to say such a thing in the face of so much death and disease, but it could have been a lot worse. And it’s possible for it to get worse. But right now I’m trying to remain optimistic and I think people are listening. With one caveat: don’t let up on those public health protection measures.
Michael Moore [00:13:28] So everybody keep wearing your masks, keep social distancing, keep washing your hands. But a lot of people, including Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib today and others are saying, we need more vaccines in Michigan. They have been dividing it up on a per capita basis. OK, so here’s Michigan’s population, so we get less than Illinois. But Illinois isn’t getting this surge right now. We’re getting it. Shouldn’t more of the vaccine be making its way to Michigan to get into the arms of as many people as possible? And what can somebody, like I, do in Michigan to make that happen?
Dr. Redlener [00:14:10] Well, first of all, I completely agree with you. And I didn’t agree with the distribution on the basis of percentage of the total population from the gecko. And the reason was that there are many, many people who live in very isolated communities. You know, it’s one thing to talk about getting people vaccinated in Detroit or Ann Arbor, it’s another thing to talk about getting people vaccinated in South Dakota, where there’s very high risk or whatever it might be. But I think we should have a much more fine tuned policy. I think that’s what you’re saying. Like we’re having a surge in New York or Wisconsin or Michigan. Those states will need immediate supply.
Michael Moore [00:14:51] Yes, immediately.
Dr. Redlener [00:14:52] This morning, you know…
Michael Moore [00:14:54] Tomorrow. Yes.
Dr. Redlener [00:14:55] And we have the supply, although there’s some hiccups there, too. You know, the Johnson & Johnson one shot vaccine has had some manufacturing problems in the last couple of weeks. So their expectations for the amount of J&J vaccines that would be out there, you know, those expectations are not being met right now, but we still have plenty of vaccines around and I 100% agree with you, Michael. Ship that stuff out, you know, tonight and start focusing on the areas where we’re seeing the outbreaks. Look, wherever there’s a mole, whack it with a vaccine. Just to put it, you know, in a sort of silly metaphor. But I completely agree with you.
Michael Moore [00:15:44] OK, so how do we make this happen?
Dr. Redlener [00:15:47] So you are one of the country’s best advocates, and first of all, I think we got to get the government of Michigan, the governor and the health commission and so on, have to be banging down the doors of federal agencies and push for this notion of put the vaccine where the problem areas are. And secondly, the message has to also get to relevant members of the president’s COVID 19 team. And by the way, they’re absolutely fantastic. And to the appropriate agencies, the CDC and so on. So, yeah, it’s basically putting the pressure on. You have several very powerful members of Congress out of Michigan, including Debbie Stabenow and Kildee and so on.
Michael Moore [00:16:39] Gary Peters.
Dr. Redlener [00:16:40] Right. So just keep banging on those doors, Michael, and have your listeners do so. It’s amazing how far that will go. Send emails, whatever you have to do, make calls to the offices and leave the message: more vaccines for Michigan, we’re the hot spot in America right now. We need that focus.
Michael Moore [00:17:02] The New York Times had an excellent piece at the end of last week on the state of Michigan. And I just wanted to send it to everybody in the state saying, Look, folks, sometimes you need people from outside where we live, letting us know what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. And I have not been in favor and I love our governor, but I am not in favor of this reopening, I think it’s a bit too soon. And why can’t we just wait a little bit longer?
Michael Moore [00:17:32] I mean, you know what this sounds like? This sounds like me when I was a six year old on Christmas morning. I mean, seriously, my sisters were well-behaved and they stayed in bed and they were sleeping. I was already up at five o’clock to catch Santa. Always missed him for some reason. But my parents were out there and they were doing the final, whatever they were doing to get the presents and I wanted to see. I couldn’t wait. I didn’t want to wait. And we were supposed to stay in bed until 7:00 a.m. But I’m up at 6:00, because I can’t wait, because I want my present. I want spring break. I want to go to a ball game. I want it.
Dr. Redlener [00:18:09] Yeah, yeah.
Michael Moore [00:18:10] And I’m an adult now. And I want to turn off the six year old in me that is saying, I want to go back to normal. I want to eat in a restaurant. I want to do this. And it’s like, I think I have the will and the maturity to be able to do this and to encourage others to follow suit. You must be pulling the hair out of your head, looking at the rest of the country, though. Why can’t we wait? Why are they doing this? We’re months, maybe weeks away from the turning point. I know it must be driving you crazy.
Dr. Redlener [00:18:49] It drives me crazy. You know, it’s this kind of irresponsible recklessness. And at Duke University there’s some unauthorized off campus fraternity party a few weeks ago and 180 kids tested positive. So they shut down Duke for a week. You have these kids going down to the beaches of Florida, not discouraged by De Santis, partying it up like it was 1999. And coming back, as you know, transmitters of coronavirus to wherever they came from. But by far, Michael, the worst is when a governor like Greg Abbott, and just fumes are coming out of my ears right now, because for him to make a decision to open up when he did as full as he did and to allow along with Major League Baseball to play in front of packed stadiums is a miscarriage of adult governmental responsibility in the worst possible way. This is not his personal risk. He’s risking the rest of us and not just Texas.
Dr. Redlener [00:20:00] This virus doesn’t give a damn where they are, what the state borders are. It’s just going to run rampant from wherever they unleash these new surges and, you know, superspreader events. I’m furious. And we’re not disciplined. We are supposed to be adults and you get elected governor, I don’t care what party it is, you have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of your citizens and the rest of the country. But for God’s sake, they’re out of control.
Michael Moore [00:20:33] I don’t know what’s happened to us. I mean, my parents were depression babies. They got through World War II. But everything that we succeeded at, whether it was winning World War II, whether it was building the interstate highway system with Eisenhower. Kennedy saying, We’re going to put a man on the Moon in eight years. I mean, all those things that we used to do, now, it’s like, what?! I don’t understand what we’ve turned into. And so here’s my question to you, because I really wanted to ask you this at the beginning, I don’t want to stay on this microphone very long. I want to get off this. I want to make those calls to our representatives in Michigan. I want to put a word in to the people I know in the Biden administration. And I want this fixed immediately, and I want more vaccines in the state of Michigan immediately.
Michael Moore [00:21:29] But on a personal level, what am I going to do? What am I going to do about my film festival this summer? Because we were working toward a safe way to do a version of this festival so that people would not get sick and not die. Now, I don’t know, I’m losing hope and I’m thinking we’re not going to be able to do this. One of them is 105 years old this summer. And that we’re not going to be able to open it up in 2021. And I can’t believe I’m saying those words because everything we’ve been doing has been toward a reopening sometime this year, asking you as an unofficial unpaid adviser. Thank you for that, by the way, to our film festival and to our nonprofit. What do we do here? What can I do? I mean, I’m going to do everything I can do to try to bring this rate down, right? And I ask everybody listening to this to do the same in your states. But we couldn’t do the film festival last summer, the last day that we showed a movie was March 12th of last year. And it’s hurt the morale of the community. People are low, their spirits are low.
Dr. Redlener [00:23:03] Well, first of all, I’m happy to be an unpaid adviser. But here’s what I think you can do. All is not lost, Michael. You could establish a criteria to allow a safe reopening of the theater. For example, reduced capacity, mandatory rapid testing for anybody that comes into your theater. At some point being able to say, you can come here if you can show proof of vaccination, you know, the so-called vaccine passport. You could not serve food. And have people spaced out.
Michael Moore [00:23:46] Right, we’ll skip the popcorn for now.
Dr. Redlener [00:23:49] Yes, skip the popcorn. And have hand-sanitizing all over the place and have people spaced out as test people or require proof of vaccine. You can have a limited, you know, COVID-19 kind of opening, which would be fine. It’s maybe the way to go this year.
Michael Moore [00:24:08] Don’t you think by the fall, though, shouldn’t most certainly most adults, but adults and teenagers by the fall be vaccinated?
Dr. Redlener [00:24:18] This is the problem. So in order to get what’s called the herd immunity, as you well know, which means that we have enough people vaccinated and we can completely shut down the vast majority of the spread of the virus, we’re going to need 80 percent of the population vaccinated. You can’t get to 80 percent if you don’t vaccinate children as well as adults. So children through age 18 comprise about, you know, 23 – 25 percent of the population. So if you leave them out of the equation, you can’t get 80 percent herd immunity levels. But on the other hand, we do have children being in trials now. And I think by mid-summer, we’ll start getting very young children and middle school and high school kids getting vaccinated. So this is the direction we’re heading in. I think we will get there. And I think if I were you, I would be planning for some opening with certain caveats and criteria in the fall.
Michael Moore [00:25:31] Well, the one caveat that I want to say to the public, and I know I’m going to get some pushback on this, I want to say to them, I want you to know that if you come into this theater, that you can feel safe. And you can feel safe because everybody else in the theater has proven, because they brought their vaccination card, that they’ve been vaccinated. I’ll ask people right now, just listening to me and you, but if I promised you that everybody else in the theater, that we will guarantee that they too have been vaccinated, will you come to a movie?
Michael Moore [00:26:32] The theaters are open partially. I have not gone to a movie. I would go, though, if Governor Cuomo or Mayor de Blasio said, We’re gonna open this up a little bit more, but you have to prove you’ve been vaccinated. And if that was the case, and remember, I don’t need to open these theaters tomorrow. I’m talking about opening them later in the summer or even the fall, thinking that by then, most people could produce a vaccination card proving they were vaccinated. I would go into that movie theater and watch a movie, and I think most people would, too. Am I crazy?
Dr. Redlener [00:27:16] I would sit right next to you in the theater then.
Michael Moore [00:27:18] Because I know that you’re fully vaccinated. I’m fully vaccinated. And just as a precaution and out of respect for everybody else, we’re also going to sit there and watch the movie with our mask on, right?
Dr. Redlener [00:27:32] And we’re going to sit there, you know, with three seats separating us. And one other caveat here is: you’re dealing with these older theaters, as you pointed out, how is the circulation in those theaters? And what if they upgrade the circulation, have an engineer look at the space, so that we know that the ventilation system is functioning. It’s a very important safety measure.
Michael Moore [00:28:09] No, we are absolutely going to do that. And we’re going to ask…we have great support in northern Michigan for these theaters and I’ve already got the engineers and architects on this, the HVAC people, who put in a new boiler just a couple of years ago. So what do we need to do to up this so we have more circulation? We don’t want the air staying in the theater for five hours. We want the air to come in and we want the air to go out. It’s not going to cost a lot of money. I think people will pay for this to know that they’re going to be breathing fresh air while they’re sitting there with a fully vaccinated audience, wearing their masks, and not taking their masks off to eat popcorn. Am I on the right path here?
Dr. Redlener [00:28:58] If you do those things and you are kind enough to invite me, I will come out for the grand reopening of your theaters.
Michael Moore [00:29:07] Oh my God, I would love that. I would love that. And you know what I will make you also an official programmer for a day. Seriously. There must be a great film, a documentary, maybe, that we all should be watching. Something that you’ve run across, something you’ve helped over the years. You come and we’ll show that movie that you’ve programmed and you do the Q&A afterwards. We’ll have it online, we’ll stream it, so people can watch it. Think about that. I’m going to take you up on your offer to come to Traverse City, Michigan and do this…
Dr. Redlener [00:29:50] I’m so excited about what you just said. I can’t begin to tell you how cool that is…
Michael Moore [00:29:55] And we can set an example for the rest of the country. Here’s how it can be done. Here’s how we can do this safely. No one’s going to get sick. No one’s going to die. And we have your best interest at heart. We don’t have the bottom line. We don’t have a profit motive. We have only your best interests. And the fact that you love going to the movies. That’s it.
Dr. Redlener [00:30:19] Yes.
Michael Moore [00:30:19] OK. I feel so much better already talking to you about this. Our voices, as citizens must be heard tonight, tomorrow, immediately, whether you live in Michigan and you contact your member of Congress, I’ll give the number again for the Capitol Hill switchboard. It works for the senators and the members of the House of Representatives. Are you ready? 202-224-3121. If you don’t know the name of your member of Congress, I’m not going to shame you about this. All you got to do is give your zip code. The switchboard man or woman will tell you who your rep is and connect you. We need more vaccines for crying out loud in Michigan. We make the vaccine in Kalamazoo. Why do we have the most COVID cases when we are producing the vaccine? This is insanity.
Dr. Redlener [00:35:14] It’s not right, Michael. But you can fix it. Let’s fix it.
Michael Moore [00:35:18] We’re going to fix it. And if you live in other states, fix it in your states. Make your voices heard. Even though we know that we’ve got good people in the White House now, good people doing things, they need the nudge. That’s our job as citizens, we need to do this. Dr. Redlener is with me on this. And I don’t want to spend any more time on this podcast right now. I want everybody to use their phones. Make these calls. Send emails. Do whatever it is you’ve got to do. But there’s no reason we cannot contain and you correct me if I’m wrong, Dr. Redlener, there’s no reason we cannot contain this virus in this year with the understanding that there may be other mutations and other things. We’re not out of any woods here, but we must have a belief that if we do the things we need to do, we can contain this. We can have actual optimism. You know, it’s not false hope, what we call hopium. I’m not asking anybody to put hopium inside their brain. I believe we can do this.
Dr. Redlener [00:36:36] And I support you 100 percent, Michael. And well, it was great talking about stuff. And I think people should heed your advice, make that phone call. But I just want to say one thing about these phone calls. They’re not ignored. No, they’re compiled. The staff will answer. You will say what you want to say and the member of Congress, either in the House or the Senate, will get the message. They’ll say something like, Hey, we got one hundred and fifty calls today from people from Michigan who want us to do such and such. They’ll get that message and it makes a difference.
Michael Moore [00:37:11] Don’t think you don’t make a difference because you’re just one person. When Dr. Redlener said 150 calls, that’s a lot.
Dr. Redlener [00:37:20] It’s crazy.
Michael Moore [00:37:21] We don’t need tens of thousands of calls. In fact, when we had our show on NBC, I said, Now you’re going to get calls on this. People are not going to like what I’m saying. And so I said to the executive at NBC, Actually, when you do get calls, like angry calls about a show, what do you consider to be a lot of calls? And she said, Four. I said, Yeah. I said, You mean from the whole country? She goes, Oh yeah, if we get four calls, that’s a lot. And I say, Wow, boy, if people only knew the power that they have. That’s you, the people. You do hold this power. Dr. Irwin Redlener from Columbia University. All the great things you’ve done. Thank you for helping out in Flint too. Everything, it’s so appreciated. If you ever see Paul Simon again, I don’t know if you guys are still in contact, but thank him for all those children’s mobile units.
Dr. Redlener [00:38:21] I certainly will, Michael. We’re in touch by text periodically. And yeah, he’s 80 now.
Michael Moore [00:38:28] Oh, wow. I’m telling you, he has always been a force for good. And so please thank him for us. And thank you. Let’s be in touch base again here in the coming months. We know what we need to do in Michigan and the rest of you know what you need to do in the rest of your states. This is Rumble and I’m Michael Moore. This is Dr. Redlener. Let’s do our job. Everybody now. Thank you. Good night. And thank you to our executive producer Basel Hamdan and our editor, Nick Kwas, who are also now stopping what they’re doing and calling their members of Congress.