LOS ANGELES - This week, the United States experienced two major turning points.
First, a grim milestone, as the nation logged its ten-millionth confirmed case of coronavirus.
Then, on the political front, former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the President-Elect, claiming victory after days of uncertainty following the November 3 election.
To break these stories, and others, down, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Anthony Scaramucci, Rick Gates, and Ben, Brett, and Jordan Meiselas, the brothers behind MeidasTouch.
As cases of COVID19 continue to spike across the country, the conversation kicks off with Dr. Oz.
This, following a week in which the United States also received news that pharmaceutical company Pfizer had developed a vaccine which reports indicate is 90% effective.
“It’s about as big a deal as you can imagine,” Oz said, noting that the “stunning” 90% effectiveness blows past the 50% effectiveness cut-off that would have allowed it to be used by Americans. “It’s a big bright light at the end of this dark tunnel we’re in.”
In a press conference from the Rose Garden on Friday, President Trump, touting his administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” said the vaccine would “arrive within a few weeks,” and that it would be distributed first to those at the highest-risk.
Oz further explained that an initial 25 million doses would be reserved for the likes of front-line health care workers, nursing home residents, and other vulnerable members of society.
“After that, it will slowly roll out to the rest of the country, to me, you, and everybody else who doesn’t have to get it first,” Oz expanded. “That means we could get 100’s of millions of doses out by the middle of next year, so we can immunize a lot of Americans.”
From vaccines, the conversation turned to other preventative measures, namely masks, which a new UCLA study reveals can reduce the risk of respiratory droplet spreading by 77%. That risk falls by 89% when a mask is paired with a face shield.
“If you’re going in for heart surgery… would you want your doctor coming into the room to scrub without a mask on? No, you’d say ‘put the mask on,’” Oz explained. “Masks give us freedom, the reason that masks are a wise move, is not just cause it’s loving and kind… it’s because it’s the way you can gain your freedom back, cause nobody wants to spend six months with the kinds of case spikes that we’re witnessing right now.”
While advocating the use of face coverings, Oz did however caution that the use of face shields alone, without the simultaneous use of a mask, does not provide adequate protection, instead, only decreasing the risk of spread by 4%.
With the holidays approaching, Michaelson also asked Oz for his thoughts on travel, especially as many states now recommend residents quarantine for two weeks following interstate travel.
Oz said he understands the theoretical value of some of the restrictions, but that over time they have slowly lost their merits, in some cases verging on the “draconian.”
“At the beginning of this whole pandemic, I could have imagined quarantining this area, New York, and not letting us travel out… that’s historically what a quarantine was, you quarantine the sick people inside a small space so they won’t contaminate the healthy people,” he said. “Now, for some reason, we’ve flipped it on its head, we’re quarantining the healthy people in order to keep them away from the sick people.”
But it’s not just travel that is being restricted, so too are many Americans’ holiday plans, where in California, for instance, new guidelines advise celebrations be kept to no more than three households, be kept short, all while windows are kept open, if the celebration is not already outside.
“We’ve got a battered psyche in America, and I think a joint Thanksgiving is important, and it’s probably inevitable at this point,” Oz said.
Still, Oz advised that Americans take precautions, treating their holiday festivities like cigarette smokers, who smoke outside and away from the most vulnerable.
He similarly cautioned, that while traveling via an airplane is safe, there is danger in getting to the plane itself, think ride-shares without the windows open for proper ventilation.
The conversation wrapped up with a game of Personal Issues, an opportunity for viewers to get to know the famous TV doctor on an entirely different level.
Among his answers, Oz said his favorite athlete was legendary Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown, his favorite meal was German Chocolate Cake, he named The Matrix as his favorite movie, and Oprah as his role model.
“She gave me my start in this business,” he explained. “But the reason I love her is not just because she’s a great mentor, it’s because I see what she’s like behind-the-scenes, and she knows her values and she follows them, and that is hard to do, because you’ve got to tell the truth to show up in your life, and most of us struggle with that.”
Shifting to the continued fallout from last week’s Presidential election, Michaelson was next joined by two former members of the Trump team: Anthony Scaramucci, who famously served as White House Communications Director for 11 days in the summer of 2017, and Rick Gates, who worked as Deputy Campaign Manager for then-candidate Trump’s successful 2016 campaign.
First, their reaction to Biden’s declared win, and his victory speech last Saturday.
“I was thinking, I’m probably not as happy as Melania, but I’ve got to be in the top five in the country,” Scaramucci joked, adding that the President’s inability to concede is “nonsense.”
“When things return back to normal, and the anger dissipates, and all this tribal nonsense ends, and we get back to some good policies, people are going to be like ‘why were we doing that?’” Scaramucci continued, predicting that the “acolytes” and “sycophants” enabling the President will soon be punished.
Gates pushed back.
“For Donald Trump and the campaign, this election is not over… As Anthony pointed out, the President is a fighter, he’s always fought, he fought in 2016 to win, and he’s going to continue fighting,” Gates said, stressing that there is still plenty of time to count the votes, at which point a decision will be made by the President.
Having worked closely with the President, Michaelson asked Scaramucci what he believes Trump’s current mindset is, what he must be thinking as he continues to push back against a declared Biden victory.
“He doesn’t like losing,” Scaramucci hypothesized. “That’s why he’s sort of manifesting this reality distortion that perhaps he can figure out a way to flip the election, and also, I think that this is showing some strength to his base.”
Gates, when given the opportunity to step inside the President’s head, said he believes that President Trump does in fact believe he won the election.
“If you look at it, and you understand his mindset, he absolutely believes there was fraud and illegal voting in this,” Gates explained.
When asked if he believes the President won, Gates said he did, expressing his own concern that there were issues with the mail-in ballots that still need to be examined.
“The President’s biggest opponent right now is not Joe Biden,” Gates cautioned. “It’s Father Time, it’s the clock, he’s running out of opportunities to show where the fraud existed.”
The conversation ended with Michaelson asking Scaramucci what he sees as President Trump’s play going forward.
Scaramucci’s prediction? A subscription service akin to that of Glenn Beck, whose The Blaze now reaches more than 165 million viewers each month.
“I think he’s got the following for that,” Scaramucci said. “I see him on a subscription service or a streaming service, making oodles of money for himself and his family.”
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.