August 7, 2020

Ali Velshi, sitting in for Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday, mixed the opening script of The Last Word:

ALI VELSHI: We are doing something a little different tonight. We normally start this show with one topic in the news. Today we're starting kind of with all of it and why it's making you feel the way you feel. We're living in the middle of a pandemic under an incompetent administration. People are not just worried about how it stay healthy but also pay rent, put food on the table. Protesters are demanding racial justice. They've been met with unnecessary violence by police. Our politics are as divided as perhaps they've ever been. And if you're human this gets to you. And sometimes it helps to hear that others are feeling the same way.

Especially when that someone is Michelle Obama.

In the second episode of her new podcast the former first lady opened up about how this difficult moment is weighing on her.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I've gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels where you just don't feel yourself. And spiritually these are not -- they are not fulfilling times spiritually. You know. So I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression, not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it day in and day out is dispiriting. So I've had to kind of give myself that, those days, those moments.

VELSHI: It's easy to understand how she feels because so many people are struggling with the same issues. The United States is approaching a grim milestone. 5 million coronavirus cases. We now have over 160,000 deaths. The United States is now averaging more than 1,000 deaths a day. That's equivalent to one person dying from the coronavirus every 80 seconds. And a key model predicts the United States could see nearly 300,000 dead from the virus by December the 1st. But data indicates about 70,000 of these lives would be saved if everyone wore a mask. A precaution Donald Trump and those who follow his lead still refuse to do on a regular basis. Today another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits. This is the 20th straight week where more than a million people have filed for jobless claims. Recent polling shows that 69% of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. A new report from the Bloomberg Misery Index, that's actually a real thing, it tallies inflation and unemployment outlooks for 60 countries, reveals that "the United States is projected to see the worst reversal of fortune this year in a ranking of global economic misery, underscoring just how much havoc the pandemic has wrought." America fell 25 spots from the number 50 spot to the number 25 spot. That puts us behind countries like Russia and Mexico on the economic misery ranking. And yet Donald Trump seems content to say it'll all go away. He's not pushing Republicans to come to a deal with Democrats to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions. He's blaming problems in states on governors, pressuring states with spiking cases to reopen their schools and spreading disinformation, actual disinformation about the virus, including a claim about children that is so dangerous that Facebook and Twitter both took it down. They hardly take anything down. Today he twice claimed without evidence that a vaccine will be ready before Election Day...

But it's not just the pandemic that's taking a toll on Americans. Michelle Obama also confided that the depression she's feeling stems from the civil unrest she continues to see every day.

MICHELLE OBAMA: What we're seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest that has plagued this country since its birth, I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow being dehumanized or hurt or killed or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And it has led to a weight that I haven't felt in my life in awhile.

VELSHI: It's been over two months since the death of George Floyd sparked massive protests across the country demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality. That was just after the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the police shooting of Breonna Taylor and the so-called no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky. No arrests in that case. Since then we've watched police shoot Rayshard Brooks after he was found sleeping in his car in a Wendy's parking lot in Atlanta. And there have been more videos from before and since. We've seen protesters met with tear gas and rubber bullets for simply exercising their right to protest. And scenes of racial injustice are still happening across this country like this one in Colorado.

[ crying ] [ screaming ] Those are the cries of children after police in Colorado mistakenly pulled over a Black family, handcuffed them and held them at gunpoint thinking the car was stolen. Rather than try to unite the country through all of this, Donald Trump has stoked racial divisions in his campaign and painted Black Lives Matter protesters as violent Marxist anarchists who burn down cities and must be dominated by police. Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge systemic racism as a problem. Even today he repeated his wildly false claim that he has done more for African-Americans than any other president, including the nation's first Black president, Barack Obama.

We're living in challenging times. Sometimes it helps to hear someone voice that pain out loud. Michelle Obama is telling you that we will get through this together.

The full episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast is on Spotify.

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