Moderna has decided to NOT raise the price of their COVID vaccine after Bernie Sanders threatened to haul the CEO in for a Senate hearing. Then, Florida Republicans are still moving forward with their attempts to re-write defamation laws in the state, but their favorite conservative media outlets are telling them that this will kill their businesses. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: Moderna has decided not to raise the price of their covid vaccine after Bernie Sanders threatened to haul the CEO in for a Senate hearing. Boy, this happened quick. Right. You know. Okay. You got a company that developed a vaccine, actually, taxpayers paid for.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Billions of dollars. Taxpayers helped them develop it. Taxpayers gave them billions of dollars to, in the first phase where there was an emergency need for it, they made billions. And then after that, after they couldn’t get, count on that money, vaccine cost $26, for the consumer they tried to raise it to $130. What was it 400%?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. 400% increase. And so, of course, always has to be Bernie Sanders.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Comes out and he says, okay, listen, Moderna. And he points out everything you just said, you know, we gave you the money. You know, you’re using also publicly available research. We threw all the resources at you to do this. And we’re thankful for it, by the way. You did good. But now you’re trying to screw us again. So how about you, Mr. CEO of Moderna, I want you to come into this senate. Now I’m gonna sit you down and you’re gonna tell your story.

Mike Papantonio: It was Mrs. Mrs.

Farron Cousins: Oh, Mrs. Mrs. Moderna.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: You come in and you tell your story to the entire country about why you’re raising the prices 400%. And a couple days later, they said, you know what, uh, we’re gonna keep it 20 bucks.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Everybody just do what you’re gonna do. But that is the kind of pressure that you could see somebody like Pete Buttigieg putting on the airline industry or the train industry.

Mike Papantonio: Of course.

Farron Cousins: But nothing. But Bernie Sanders is still the, the leader out there with taking on these corporations.

Mike Papantonio: That, that’s called, it’s called leadership. You’re in an office where you can use that kinda leadership. And he, he beat them back like a wild dog, I’m telling you. And so that’s, that’s all that had to happen. No, Mrs. Moderna, you’re not gonna raise it from $26 to $130, because you’ve already made billions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers. They’ve already paid you a lot of money. I love that kinda leadership.

Farron Cousins: It, it does. And Bernie wasn’t threatening legislation against them.

Mike Papantonio: No.

Farron Cousins: He wasn’t threatening, you know, price gouging charges. He just said, why don’t you come tell everybody why you’re doing this. And that was enough to scare ’em.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Florida Republicans are still moving forward with their attempts to rewrite defamation laws in the state. But their favorite conservative media outlets are telling them, you’re gonna kill us. You’re gonna put us outta business. It is virtually, okay. First of all, this is Andrade. I call him anonymous because most people don’t even know who he is, but Andrade here is, that’s him. Okay. So he’s come up with the bill. Why don’t you talk about what the bill is?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. What this bill would do is it would basically try to rewrite federal law at the state level, which you already can’t do anyway. So it should be dead on arrival. But I guess Andrade and his giant forehead doesn’t care about that. So what he’s done is he’s got this legislation that would basically do away with actual malice, which means in order to prove defamation, you no longer have to have that standard of they did it intentionally. So if you go out there and you accidentally say something, you can be sued for it.

Mike Papantonio: Well, a reporter should be able to project about what they believe is happening. They don’t always get it right. Now that’s different from malice. It’s different from, it’s different from the kind of recklessness that the Sullivan case says, look, if you do this, you’re gonna, defamation is gonna stick even if it’s a public figure. But what they’ve done here is you have what I call, it’s the Grey Poupon politicians, that’s what he is. Grey Poupon politicians that say, well, we want to go to, you know, we want to be involved in politics, but when we do something really stupid, like we’ve seen this Florida legislature do again and again and again, we don’t want you to talk about us. And if you talk about us, we wanna lower the standard that we can sue you. Now, this guy wants to say, well, we’re doing this for the American, we’re doing this for the greater good of the Florida public. This isn’t, this is not targeting reporters. This isn’t, you know, this isn’t to protect politicians. This is for the greater good of the Florida public. You want to tie that up for me, how this is the greater good for the public.

Farron Cousins: For the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around anything that stupid. But that is the reasoning that these folks are using. But people have to understand, and I know these idiot lawmakers know this, we’re not out there talking about Joe Smith on the corner, you know, the average American citizen is not getting slandered by the news media. Who is getting talked about in correct ways are the politicians and the people making the decisions. But what I love about this is that now the conservative media outlets in Florida, and for the record, a lot of them have moved down here. A lot of the big conservative organizations, they’re talking heads have moved to Florida.

Mike Papantonio: Oh, they’re all over Florida. They’re all over Florida. It’s big business.

Farron Cousins: And they’re now begging these politicians saying, you’re gonna get me sued. You’re gonna ruin my career because.

Mike Papantonio: You’re gonna.

Farron Cousins: Listen, they say, why push the tide?

Mike Papantonio: They push the limits and you know, by God, they should be able to push limits. It’s their right to push limits. It’s what we call the First Amendment. As long as they stay within the realm of New York Times v Sullivan. Now I get, I don’t know if you know, but I got email, I got text, I got texts and emails from this guy, from this Andrade, because I did a story one time, called him a manchild, you know, something like that. I don’t know. But anyway, he was upset that I wasn’t able to analyze New York, you know, New York Times v Sullivan, as if he was in some special position to do that. So, trust me, I can analyze the case. But he says, well, gee whiz, Clarence Thomas agrees with me and Gorsuch agrees with me. Therefore, Pap, you’re the dummy and you don’t understand the First Amendment. I’m reading this, I’m going, what the hell? I said, I wrote back and said, get used to it. You know, whatever it is bothering you, kid.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. He, I mean, is he talking about the same Clarance Thomas that was just busted taking yearly luxury trips from a Republican donor and not disclosing? That guy we should be concerned about.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. That we shouldn’t be able to talk about.

Farron Cousins: Oh, yeah.

Mike Papantonio: We shouldn’t able to talk.

Farron Cousins: And I just got sued now because I’ve mentioned that story.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. All right, well, I’m gonna have fun with this as it develops and keep the emails coming because they’re just so bizarre. It just makes for a better story. Thanks for joining me. Okay.

Farron Cousins: Thank you.

Mike Papantonio: That’s all for this week, but all these segments will be available throughout the next week. And make sure you follow us at Twitter @AmericasLawyer. I’m Mike Papantonio and this has been America’s Lawyer, where we tell you the stories that corporate media won’t tell you every week, because their advertisers don’t let ’em, they’re too tied into the money or they’re political connections don’t allow for it. They’re too Democrat. They’re too Republican. So they’re afraid to talk about their party, but we’re not. We’ll see you next time.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.