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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 124)

Melissa Francis presses White House spokesman on claim some Senate Republicans could support impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6113768079001_6113763808001-vs Melissa Francis presses White House spokesman on claim some Senate Republicans could support impeachment fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/shows/outnumbered-overtime fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 4e1c7dde-b7dd-5596-85ed-a8f563a27d8b

Fox News Channel host Melissa Francis pressed a White House spokesman on a Democratic senator’s claim there are some Republicans in the chamber who are considering supporting the impeachment of President Trump.

On Friday’s “Outnumbered Overtime,” Francis played a CNN clip in which Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware claimed Senate Democrats will be counting on a handful of Republicans to support their cause.

“We will be relying on a small number of Republicans who are pushing back against this idea — who recognize that impeachment is a serious, significant constitutional moment,” he said.

“There are, I believe, a few Republicans who recognize that what President Trump did here was demonstrably impeachable,” the former New Castle County executive continued.

Democrats will need some Republicans to vote with them in order to convict or remove the president from office if the impeachment process makes it to the Senate.

RETIREE CALLED ‘DAMN LIAR’ BY BIDEN SAYS HE JUST WANTED EX-VP TO ‘ANSWER THE HARD STUFF’ ABOUT UKRAINE, OTHER TOPICS

In turn, Francis asked Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley if it was true that some Republicans may be waffling on the issue.

“We’ve already had a vote in the House,” Gidley responded.

Francis then asked if he is confident the Senate will act similarly.

“If it goes there, [Trump] wants a trial,” Gidley said.

In response, Francis pressed further: “But, are there Republican senators who are wavering?”

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“Democrats want this fight — it’s something the president is willing to have,” the aide responded. “Not to my knowledge,” he later said, in regard to Coons’ claim.

Gidley said Trump has met with “hundreds” of congressional representatives and many Senate Republicans — asserting that they are all on board with opposing impeachment.

“This process is a sham,” he said, adding that it is Democrats who should be concerned because of the numerous freshmen lawmakers in that party who won seats in Trump-friendly districts in 2018.

He also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for ignoring the USMCA trade deal currently languishing on her desk, as well as legislation that he said would help all Americans — like infrastructure funding and prescription pharmaceutical reform.

Pelosi, he claimed, is only interested in concentrating her power and taking back the White House.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6113768079001_6113763808001-vs Melissa Francis presses White House spokesman on claim some Senate Republicans could support impeachment fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/shows/outnumbered-overtime fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 4e1c7dde-b7dd-5596-85ed-a8f563a27d8b   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6113768079001_6113763808001-vs Melissa Francis presses White House spokesman on claim some Senate Republicans could support impeachment fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/shows/outnumbered-overtime fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 4e1c7dde-b7dd-5596-85ed-a8f563a27d8b

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Rosie O’Donnell defends law professor over Barron Trump joke: ‘I don’t think she did anything wrong’

Westlake Legal Group rosie-odonnell-Getty Rosie O’Donnell defends law professor over Barron Trump joke: ‘I don’t think she did anything wrong’ Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/rosie-odonnell fox-news/person/melania-trump fox-news/entertainment/the-view fox-news/entertainment/events/scandal fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 69b22102-a373-5d19-aeea-93b6ea14cace

Rosie O’Donnell does not think Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan owed the First Family an apology after she made a joke about the president’s son at a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing this week.

O’Donnell, 58, said Karlan’s words were “taken out of context.” Karlan initially received backlash on Wednesday for using Barron Trump’s first name as an example while discussing the Constitution.

ROSIE O’DONNELL AND ELIZABETH ROONEY CALL OFF ENGAGEMENT

Karlan said on Wednesday: “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”

O’Donnell defended the professor, saying to TMZ: “I don’t think that she did anything wrong. She was trying to say that he’s not a king. You could have a child named Barron but he can’t make him a baron.

ROSIE O’DONNELL GETS CANDID ABOUT HER FEUD WITH WHOOPI GOLDBERG ON ‘THE VIEW’: ‘SHE WOULD JUST SIT THERE’

“She was trying to say that he’s not a king,” the former “View” co-host added.

O’Donnell then continued to bash President Trump, calling him a “terrible human” and a “cruel man.”

On Thursday, “The View” co-hosts debated over Karlan’s words.

‘THE VIEW’ DISHES ON TWITTER FEUD BETWEEN THE CONWAYS, SUNNY HOSTIN PREDICTS A DIVORCE

“Maybe they missed this part but she was not speaking about the child,” Whoopi Goldberg said. “She was speaking about his name and how it played into what he could not do. He cannot take a title. She was not being disrespectful or nasty.”

Melania Trump responded on Twitter to Karlan name-dropping her 13-year-old son.

ROSIE O’DONNELL RAILS AGAINST BIDEN’S CANDIDACY: ‘YOUR TIME HAS PASSED’

“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” the first lady wrote.

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O’Donnell said to TMZ that the nation is in trouble.

“The democracy itself is at stake. So if this is not impeachable, what is impeachable?”

Westlake Legal Group rosie-odonnell-Getty Rosie O’Donnell defends law professor over Barron Trump joke: ‘I don’t think she did anything wrong’ Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/rosie-odonnell fox-news/person/melania-trump fox-news/entertainment/the-view fox-news/entertainment/events/scandal fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 69b22102-a373-5d19-aeea-93b6ea14cace   Westlake Legal Group rosie-odonnell-Getty Rosie O’Donnell defends law professor over Barron Trump joke: ‘I don’t think she did anything wrong’ Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/rosie-odonnell fox-news/person/melania-trump fox-news/entertainment/the-view fox-news/entertainment/events/scandal fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 69b22102-a373-5d19-aeea-93b6ea14cace

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Nikki Haley: Confederate Flag Was About ‘Heritage’ Until Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ It

Westlake Legal Group 5dea96d9250000b64cd2f6c5 Nikki Haley: Confederate Flag Was About ‘Heritage’ Until Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ It

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley lamented that white supremacist Dylann Roof ― who carried out a shooting rampage at a historically Black church in South Carolina in 2015 ― “hijacked” the meaning of the Confederate flag, claiming it was once about American heritage.

“South Carolina fell to our knees when this happened,” Haley told right-wing commentator Glenn Beck in the season finale of his self-titled podcast set. At the time of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, Haley was governor of the Palmetto State.

“Here is this guy that comes out with his manifesto, holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of. And we don’t have hateful people in South Carolina,” Haley said, before adding that there’s “always the small minority that’s always going to be there.”

Continuing, she then asserted that, until the 2015 massacre, the flag — which many associate with the legacy of slavery — represented “service and sacrifice and heritage,” but that after Roof’s murders, “there was no way to overcome it.”

While the flag is defended as a symbol of Southern pride in some states, it is also embraced as a tribute to the “lost cause” of the Civil War, was waved at Ku Klux Klan lynchings, and used as a sign of resistance against desegregation.

After the Charleston shooting, photos surfaced of Roof posing with Confederate flags, and his racist screed confirmed that the violence was committed in the name of white supremacy.

But Haley suggested the media reported on the killings with an agenda, arriving “in droves” with a predetermined narrative.

“They wanted to define what happened,” she told Beck. “They wanted to make this about racism, they wanted to make it about gun control, they wanted to make it about [the] death penalty.”

Roof, who confessed to the shooting, was sentenced to death in 2017 for 33 federal hate crime charges.

In the wake of the carnage, the symbolism of the flag received renewed focus, and was removed from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds. At the time, Haley made remarks similar to those in her discussion with Beck: Rather than being a sign of hate, she said she knew “so many people” who saw it “as heritage and respect and sacrifice but that murderer hijacked that flag.”

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Group condemns ‘soldier Santa’ holding ‘God bless America’ sign at Army base

A blow-up Santa Claus on an Army base is deflating holiday cheer for promoting Christianity, an activist group complains.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) founder and president, Mikey Weinstein, condemns the display in the commissary at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va.

ARMY SAYS FAITH-BASED GROUP CAN NO LONGER PUT BIBLE VERSES ON DOG TAGS AFTER COMPLAINT

“I can’t make this sh-t up,” Weinstein told Crooks and Liars this week, pointing out the Santa is wearing a military uniform that says “Christmas Force,” is next to a sign that says “God bless America,” and one thing he says you can’t see in the photo.

Westlake Legal Group BlowupSanta Group condemns 'soldier Santa' holding 'God bless America' sign at Army base fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc Caleb Parke article 8da46bec-57c7-5227-b5b8-3c184207aa48 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained about this display on a military base for promoting Christianity. (Military Religious Freedom Foundation)

“Almost all the complainants—like the lead one that came to us on this— have been through mandatory situations where they’ve been forced to engage in blessing for Jesus Christ,” he added. “It’s always one faith, always it’s Christianity.”

BROOKLYN TEACHER SACKED AFTER TELLING FIRST GRADERS THAT SANTA AND TOOTH FAIRY AREN’T REAL

First Liberty Institute lawyer and director of military affairs, Mike Berry, told Fox News Weinstein’s complaint is just a bunch of hot air.

“It appears Mikey Weinstein thinks an inflatable Santa Clause is an actual military officer who speaks for the government,” Berry said. “Even if that were true, service members are permitted to say ‘God Bless America,’ just as the Commander-in-Chief does on a routine basis.”

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MRFF claims an Army officer, who served in Afghanistan, sent them an email complaining about the display.

“This image of Santa in a military uniform with the words ‘God Bless America’ imply that the military is a Christian religious organization, which is false and degrading to all soldiers,” the officer wrote. “Although I was raised a Christian, was baptized, and underwent confirmation at a Methodist church, I was disgusted to see this nonsecular image at the commissary.”

Westlake Legal Group BlowupSanta Group condemns 'soldier Santa' holding 'God bless America' sign at Army base fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc Caleb Parke article 8da46bec-57c7-5227-b5b8-3c184207aa48 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday   Westlake Legal Group BlowupSanta Group condemns 'soldier Santa' holding 'God bless America' sign at Army base fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/us fnc Caleb Parke article 8da46bec-57c7-5227-b5b8-3c184207aa48 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

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‘Star Trek’ actor Robert Walker Jr. dead at 79

Robert Walker Jr., best known for a classic early Star Trek episode and as the son of Hollywood stars Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones, died Thursday in Malibu, according to family members. He was 79.

The New York native portrayed the twitchy, callow title character in “Charlie X,” the second episode of Star Trek’s pioneering first season in 1966, and also handled the title role of the notable 1960s feature films Ensign Pulver and Young Billy Young.

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For Ensign Pulver, the comedic 1964 naval drama, Walker inherited a role that had earned Jack Lemmon an Oscar for best supporting actor for Mister Roberts (1955). In the 1969 gunfighter tale Young Billy Young, Walker was the volatile outlaw who finds a mentor in Robert Mitchum in film that also featured Angie Dickinson and David Carradine. That same year Walker and his wife, Ellie Wood, appeared together in the milestone counter-culture epic Easy Rider.

Walker’s other big-screen credits include The Hook (1963), with Kirk Douglas;  The Ceremony (1963), with Laurence Harvey;  The War Wagon (1967), with John Wayne; Killers Three (1968), with Dick Clark; and Road to Salina (1970), with Rita Hayworth.

Westlake Legal Group robertwalker 'Star Trek' actor Robert Walker Jr. dead at 79 Geoff Boucher fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fnc/entertainment fnc Deadline b018862d-81bb-53ac-bc22-4b55cf65b39f article

Robert Walker, Jr. as Charlie Evans in the STAR TREK episode, “Charlie X.” Season 1, episode, 2. Original air date, September 15, 1966. (CBS via Getty Images)

On television his career spanned 20 years and his many credits included roles on Route 66, Ben Casey, Combat!, Bonanza, The Time Tunnel, The Six Million Dollar Man, Quincy, M.E.,Charlie’s Angels, Columbo, CHiPs, L.A. Law, and Murder, She Wrote.

HOLLYWOOD AND FANS PAY TRIBUTE TO ‘WILL & GRACE’S SHELLEY MORRISON

It was his role in Federation space, however, that earned Walker his most lasting screen legacy. Walker was 26 when he played the callow 17-year-old Charlie Evans, aka Charlie X, on the second episode of Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi series for NBC. The petulant Charlie came aboard the USS Enterprise as a rescued castaway who survived 14 solitary years amid the wreckage of a downed transport ship.  The memorable episode, penned by D.C. Fontana, takes a dark turn when the orphaned teen’s dangerous secret and formidable mental powers are revealed.

JOAN STALEY DIES: ‘THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN’ & ’77 SUNSET STRIP’ ACTRESS WAS 79

Walker was born in Queens in April of 1940, the year after his father (best remembered as Alfred Hitchcock’s off-kilter killer in the 1951 classic Strangers on a Train) and his mother (the Academy Award-winner from The Song of Bernadette in 1943) were married. The marriage ended in 1945. Four years later, the youngster got a powerful stepfather when Jones married David O. Selznick, the Hollywood titan who produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca.

This story originally appeared in Deadline

Westlake Legal Group robertwalker 'Star Trek' actor Robert Walker Jr. dead at 79 Geoff Boucher fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fnc/entertainment fnc Deadline b018862d-81bb-53ac-bc22-4b55cf65b39f article   Westlake Legal Group robertwalker 'Star Trek' actor Robert Walker Jr. dead at 79 Geoff Boucher fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fnc/entertainment fnc Deadline b018862d-81bb-53ac-bc22-4b55cf65b39f article

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Why Apple Scrapped the Release of Its Oscar Contender, ‘The Banker’

“The Banker” seemed like the right project for Apple to introduce itself as a player in the movie business. Featuring two stars from the “Avengers” series, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie, it was based on the real-life story of two black entrepreneurs who fought the racist business practices of mid-20th-century America. Apple had announced a Dec. 6 theatrical release date and started an awards push, only to halt the release after a daughter of one of the film’s protagonists raised allegations of sexual abuse involving her family.

On Nov. 20, Apple pulled “The Banker” from the prestigious closing-night slot at the American Film Institute’s annual festival in Los Angeles, saying the company and the filmmakers needed time to look into the accusations made by Cynthia Garrett, whose father was the basis for Bernard Garrett, the character played by Mr. Mackie. Two days later, Apple canceled the December release.

Since then, the company has declined to comment on whether it will eventually put “The Banker” in theaters or make it available on Apple TV Plus, the streaming service that went live Nov. 1. Under the original plan, the movie was scheduled for a January debut on the platform.

Apple scrapped the rollout after it became aware of Ms. Garrett’s accusations against her half brother, Bernard Garrett Jr., a son of the man played by Mr. Mackie and one of the film’s co-producers. In her complaint, Ms. Garrett, a television personality who runs a ministry based in Los Angeles, said he had sexually abused her and her younger sister when they were children in the 1970s. Apple removed his name from publicity materials, and he no longer appears as a producer of “The Banker” on the website IMDB, which lists film credits.

Mr. Garrett denied the accusations, saying in an email, “These allegations against me simply are not true.”

Adapting true stories for the screen has long been a fraught endeavor. “The Hurricane,” a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington, was faulted for the license it took in telling the story of Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a middleweight boxer who was wrongly convicted of a triple homicide — criticism that many believe cost the film at the Oscars. This year, Universal Pictures faced complaints over “Green Book,” a fact-based film centered on the relationship between a black concert pianist, Donald Shirley, and his white chauffeur in midcentury America. Although the Shirley family condemned the portrayal, the film won the Oscar for best picture.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165527610_eb22d605-059d-4616-82db-9b5421f3e3cf-articleLarge Why Apple Scrapped the Release of Its Oscar Contender, ‘The Banker’ Van Amburg, Zack (1970- ) The Banker (Movie) Movies Mackie, Anthony Jackson, Samuel L Erlicht, Jamie (1968- ) Apple TV Plus Apple Inc

Cynthia Garrett, a daughter of the man played by Anthony Mackie in “The Banker,” said Apple was right to cancel the film’s December premiere.Credit…Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

Ms. Garrett, who was a V.J. at VH1 in the 1990s and the host of the NBC talk show “Later” in 2000, said Apple was right to shelve “The Banker.” “I applaud Apple for doing the right thing and choosing to stand with women and children,” she said in an interview. “As a woman of color, I feel pretty vindicated by the fact that Apple recognized us.”

While her allegations are serious, some people in Hollywood have questioned whether Apple was overly cautious.

“When you are in the business of distributing content, unless you have an indefensible claim against you, you don’t let issues and protests get in the way,” said Blair Westlake, a media strategist and a former media executive at Universal Studios and Microsoft. “In this case, it’s regrettable that Apple would let the displeasure and concerns of a small group of people, which may be justified and fact based, change their business plans.

“Once you open that door, any other topic or film could run the same risk,” Mr. Westlake continued. “It will likely have a chilling effect on those wishing to produce content for them.”

Tim Bajarin, the president of Creative Strategies, a Silicon Valley market research firm, said the company was right to tread carefully.

“Like Disney, Apple has a relatively squeaky-clean position with consumers, and they are known for protecting their customers, guarding their privacy and their security,” he said. “I think Apple’s position of cautiousness is important at this early stage in their streaming business. They don’t need the negative criticism on a particular movie. They need to prove their capabilities, and that their quality and their content is acceptable.”

The botched rollout has come as a blow to Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, film-industry veterans who run Apple’s streaming service. Apple TV Plus has received mixed reviews for its flagship program, “The Morning Show,” as it takes on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.

Apple’s move into Hollywood has emphasized the television shows it has created with a group of name producers including Oprah Winfrey and J.J. Abrams. But the company is also making a bet that it can succeed with movies.

In an interview last month, Mr. Van Amburg and Mr. Erlicht described Apple’s film strategy as modest and carefully considered — no more than 12 movies a year, each given a tailor-made promotional push. They contrasted the strategy with that of Netflix, a company that spends billions on content and makes roughly 90 feature-length movies annually, including documentaries and animated films.

“Netflix has chosen to be in the volume business,” Mr. Erlicht said. “But you can’t event-ize 80 movies a year. Each and every one of our movies will be special.”

With its message of empowerment and strong performances by its two stars, “The Banker” had the potential to be a box-office and streaming hit while generating some Oscar buzz.

“You have an incredibly exciting and entertaining story with an A-plus cast, but it’s also saying something about the world we used to live in and the world we still live in today,” Matt Dentler, the head of Apple’s film division, said in an interview before the original release plan was scrapped.

The film’s journey to almost making it to the screen goes back to 1995, when the original screenwriter, David Lewis Smith, conducted eight hours of taped interviews with the elder Mr. Garrett. Mr. Garrett described his rise as an entrepreneur in California decades ago, his efforts to buy banks in Texas and how he and his business partner, Joseph Morris, wound up drawing the attention of the federal authorities. Both served time at Terminal Island prison in Los Angeles and testified before Congress in 1965.

The tapes made by Mr. Smith, along with more than 1,000 pages of the congressional transcript, became source material for the script. In 1996, Mr. Garrett signed a deal giving the rights to his life story to New Day, a production company he formed with Bernard Garrett Jr. and Mr. Smith. (The New York Times reviewed a copy of the contract.) The project languished until 2012, when the producer Joel Viertel bought the rights from New Day.

As part of that deal, Mr. Viertel acquired the life rights of Bernard Garrett Jr. and his mother, Eunice Garrett, played in the film by Nia Long. The producer enlisted the screenwriter and director George Nolfi in 2015, along with the screenwriter Niceole R. Levy.

According to two people close to the project, the filmmakers met with the younger Mr. Garrett only once — for dinner in Los Angeles, at Mr. Nolfi’s request — before filming started in September 2018. The shoot wrapped in November 2018, and Apple bought the worldwide rights in June for $20 million based on an eight-minute sizzle reel. Before his half sister made the filmmakers aware of her accusations, Mr. Garrett was set to have a role in promoting “The Banker.” He took part in a panel discussion hosted by the film site IndieWire on Nov. 5.

There is no character in the film based on Cynthia Garrett’s mother, Linda Garrett, the second of Bernard Garrett’s three wives. Married in 1962, the two stayed together for more than a decade, Ms. Garrett said. In her telling of events, it was her mother, not Eunice, who helped Mr. Garrett make the business deals central to “The Banker.”

The filmmakers learned of Ms. Garrett’s objections on Nov. 8, when she posted them in the YouTube comment section beneath a trailer for “The Banker.” In her comment, Ms. Garrett accused the filmmakers of stealing her mother’s story without permission.

On Monday, the filmmakers issued a statement signed by 53 members of the cast and crew. It read in part, “Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered.” The statement added that the film was “not based on the recollections of any of Bernard Garrett Sr’s children,” and cited the interview recordings, congressional transcripts and news articles as its basis.

Interviewed on Thursday, Ms. Garrett, who said she had not seen the movie, held firm.

“My sister and I spoke up about our sexual abuse because we don’t feel that a predator should profit off of stealing our mom’s and our life story with our father,” she said. “It’s pretty simple to me. All the rest of this, the chain of title and the movie rights, all these other arguments, they are just cloud cover.”

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What Bloomberg Said About His 2020 Rivals in a TV Interview

Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday brushed back critiques about his wealth and bristled at the suggestion that he was using it to buy success in the 2020 presidential race, arguing that other Democrats who have complained about his entry into their party’s primary could have taken it upon themselves to earn their own personal fortunes, as he had done.

In a television interview, Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he announced his presidential campaign, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City rejected the idea that he had an unfair advantage, saying that while other candidates asked donors for money, he had made his money himself and then given most of it away.

“I turn and they’re criticizing me for it,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money. And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns?”

“I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money,” he added. “They’re using somebody else’s money and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.”

The interview with Mr. Bloomberg, 77, covered a wide range of topics, including the candidate’s recent apology for having defended so called stop-and-frisk policing as mayor of New York. Asked about the timing of his about-face, Mr. Bloomberg asserted that “nobody asked me about it until I started running for president.”

Discussing his reasons for entering the race, he said he worried that if other Democrats took on President Trump in a general election, Mr. Trump would “eat ’em up.” He described one of those Democratic hopefuls, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, as “very well-spoken,” a phrase that quickly drew criticism as belittling of a black politician.

In addressing his wealth and the way he has deployed it to help him play catch-up after his late entry into the race, Mr. Bloomberg confronted the central critique of his candidacy that his Democratic rivals have deployed early on: that he is seeking to “buy” the election and the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg, who built a successful financial information and media company, spent more than $30 million on his first week of advertising as a candidate last month — far more than the entire rest of the Democratic field spent that week.

For months, progressive candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have criticized billionaires, saying the rich have not paid their fair share in taxes and proposing a tax on wealth to help pay for the wide-ranging government programs they have pledged to install if elected.

Video

transcript

Who Is Michael Bloomberg? | 2020 Presidential Candidate

The billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York is hoping he can forge a path to the Democratic nomination by positioning himself as a centrist who can take on President Trump.

A billionaire businessman, philanthropist and former mayor of New York City. “Oh, you’re welcome.” Michael Bloomberg is making a late entry … “This is the road that I’m taking.” … into the Democratic presidential race. So who is he? Bloomberg grew up outside of Boston. After college and Harvard Business School, he got into investment banking. In the 1980s, he created the Bloomberg Terminal, a financial tool for investors that would make him a billionaire. And in 2001, Bloomberg ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican. “That should make a great politician.” Then in the middle of his campaign, New York City changed forever on Sept. 11. As New York’s outgoing mayor took the national stage, he gave Bloomberg the thumbs up. “Well, I’m urging people to vote for Mike Bloomberg.” “I, Michael R. Bloomberg —” Bloomberg won. One of his priorities as mayor was tackling public health. “Sixty-four ounce. Just think about that.” “Don’t go near these things.” He also pushed for controversial stop-and-frisk policies that disproportionately affected minority communities. “Everything the New York City Police Department has done is absolutely —is legal.” But just days before entering the presidential race this year, he apologized. “I just want you to know that I realize back then, I was wrong.” In 2007, he left the G.O.P. And in 2008, during the financial crisis, he asked the City Council to extend term limits in order to let him run for a controversial third term. “Yes.” “No.” “No.” “Aye.” “Aye.” The vote passed, and he won re-election. “We’re going to make the next four years the best yet.” So what about the issues? After he left office in 2013, Bloomberg went back to running his company, which includes a news division. But he’s also focused on supporting candidates … “Let’s elect a sane, competent person.” … and causes he cares about, many of which are now key parts of his platform. Bloomberg is a vocal supporter of gun reform. “We cannot have a society where you go out in the street, and you can get blown away. We just have to say enough is enough.” He also has big plans for health care reform and fighting climate change. “Trump has done us a favor. Every time he riles against climate change, the money comes flooding in.” Overall, Bloomberg is positioning himself as a moderate in the Democratic field. “With the right candidate, we can turn areas from red to blue.” So what about his chances? They’re somewhat unknown. As a billionaire and fellow New Yorker, Bloomberg supporters feel he is uniquely positioned to take on President Trump. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.” “There is nobody I’d rather run against than ‘Little Michael.’ That I can tell you.” But he has challenges ahead. He’s as not well known outside of New York City. Also, Bloomberg probably won’t participate in any of the Democratic debates, and he’s likely to skip the early primaries and caucuses. His hope: to surge on Super Tuesday and chart a path to the nomination. “I am running for president to defeat Donald Trump, and to unite and rebuild America.”

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The billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York is hoping he can forge a path to the Democratic nomination by positioning himself as a centrist who can take on President Trump.CreditCredit…Chet Strange for The New York Times

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, two of the leading candidates in the race, have shunned high-dollar fund-raising events, relying instead on smaller contributions from grass-roots supporters and arguing that such a strategy prevents influence by wealthy donors.

Ms. Warren took aim at another top-tier candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., on Thursday night, calling on him to open his fund-raising events to the news media. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the leader in national polling of the primary contest, has allowed journalists to attend his private fund-raisers.

In his interview, Mr. Bloomberg said he did not come from money and noted that his “father made $6,000 the best year of his life.”

“Nobody gave me a head start,” he said.

Still, the power of money in elections has been on full display in the 2020 race, as candidates have scrambled to meet donation and polling thresholds in order to qualify for the Democratic National Committee’s televised debates. Another billionaire, Tom Steyer, got into the race relatively late but has spent millions of dollars on advertising and other resources that have helped him become one of just six people in a 15-person field to qualify for this month’s debate.

The surprise departure this week of Senator Kamala Harris of California from the race has forced the Democratic Party to grapple with the possibility of having only white candidates on the stage in Los Angeles and prompted some candidates of color — like Mr. Booker and the former housing secretary Julián Castro — to sound an alarm about the diversity of the field.

Asked about Mr. Booker and the concerns he had raised, Mr. Bloomberg praised the senator’s ideas but said the current makeup of the field did not worry him.

“If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don’t complain to me that you’re not in the race. It was up to you,” he said. “I thought there was a lot of diversity in the group of Democratic aspirants. Entry is not a barrier.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s description of Mr. Booker as “well-spoken” ricocheted on social media and on morning radio talk shows. Asked about the comments Friday morning on “Signal Boost,” a radio program on SiriusXM, Mr. Booker said he was “taken aback.”

“It’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these tired tropes or the language we have out there that folks I don’t think understand — and the fact that they don’t understand is problematic,” Mr. Booker said, also noting that his relationship with Mr. Bloomberg dates back to when they both were mayors.

At another point, Mr. Bloomberg agreed with his interviewer, Gayle King of CBS, that his longtime companion, Diana Taylor, would be a “de facto” first lady. He said he had been living with Ms. Taylor for 19 years, which would not change if he became president.

Westlake Legal Group democratic-polls-promo-1560481207024-articleLarge-v14 What Bloomberg Said About His 2020 Rivals in a TV Interview Presidential Election of 2020 CBS This Morning (TV Program) Bloomberg, Michael R

Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

There are 15 Democrats running for president. Here’s the latest data to track how the candidates are doing.

Mr. Bloomberg’s interview aired one day after he released a sweeping plan on gun control, putting an issue on which he has a long record at the center of his emerging candidacy. He said Friday that the National Rifle Association, whose leadership has been in turmoil, “has basically been beaten.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s gun-control plan, which calls for a national gun licensing system and stricter background checks, among a host of other measures, represents some of the most left-leaning views of a candidate who is something of an ideological moderate. Mr. Bloomberg described himself in the interview as “a social liberal, fiscal moderate, who is basically nonpartisan.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who was elected mayor first as a Republican and then as an independent, and who registered as a Democrat more recently, has given millions of dollars to groups and candidates who he believes share his goals, including Republicans.

He delivered a speech just before kicking off his campaign in which he apologized for the controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactics that he defended as mayor. Under the program, officers stopped, questioned and often searched people on the street millions of times. The vast majority of those stopped were young black and Latino men, even though they were no more likely than white people to be arrested as a result.

In the interview, Ms. King pressed him on his assertion that “nobody” had asked him about his position on the tactics until he began his presidential run. He responded by once again expressing remorse.

“I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said. “Let’s go fight the N.R.A.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.

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Con man arrested in Russia after allegedly building fake border posts for migrant workers

A con man was arrested by Russian authorities for allegedly constructing fake border posts designed to trick migrant workers into believing they had entered Finland — when in fact they had entered the Russian town of Vyborg.

The unidentified man promised migrant workers he could smuggle them into the European Union, erecting mock border posts and charging four men from South Asia over $10,000 each to supposedly enter Finland, an EU member country, the Russian FSB border guard service said on Wednesday.

The four Asian men were eventually stopped by real border guards, who informed them they were still in Russia.

MORE THAN 50 POLAR BEARS OVERRUN FAR-NORTH RUSSIAN VILLAGE

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No entry sign at border zone between Finland and Russia

“The man never planned to carry out his promises,” Interfax news agency said, according to The Guardian.

He installed fake posts marking the border between Russia and Finland and led the men on a complicated route by car and on foot — even marching along a lake where he brought an inflatable boat “just in case.”

The man planned to tell the migrants they were in Finland when they traveled past his constructed fence post, according to the outlet.

HOUSE DEMOCRAT SAYS TRUMP ‘ANSWERS TO VLADIMIR PUTIN; NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

The migrants were detained on Nov. 28 and on Wednesday a court in St Petersburg fined them for immigration offenses and ordered their deportation. Video released by Russian authorities reportedly showed the men standing in the dark with their hands in the air.

The fake smuggler was also detained and is facing a more serious charge of fraud, pending a trial, according to The Guardian.

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“The incredible adventure of the foreigners in the night-time quiet of the Vyborg woods ended with a decision of the Vyborg district court,” the FSB statement said.

The two countries share a border of roughly 833 miles.

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For Biden, it’s always Iowa

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6113760704001_6113759076001-vs For Biden, it’s always Iowa fox-news/columns/fox-news-halftime-report fox news fnc/politics fnc Chris Stirewalt article 09b1efa0-d8e4-57d2-bf38-47c2fca1dbc8

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On the roster: For Biden, it’s always Iowa – How Harris drove Democrats off a cliff – Boffo jobs report boosts GOP hopes – Trump faces deadline today on hearings – Honked off

FOR BIDEN, IT’S ALWAYS IOWA
It’s always Iowa.

Joe Biden has thrice sought the presidency and each time, Iowa has been a rocky shoal. In 1988 it was at the Iowa State Fair where he plagiarized the lines of a British politician and it was a fifth-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008 that drove Biden from the race.

This time it is Biden’s “No Malarkey” tour of the Hawkeye State that threatens to at last strip him of front-runner status.

We are not here talking about Biden chomping on his wife’s digits or even his bouts of confusion. Those things are status quo for Biden who is unquestionably a weird dude. Whether you find them endearing or disturbing, Biden’s penchants for unusual physical contact and ginormous gaffes are well known.

Biden’s real boo-boo in Iowa this time was lashing out at a voter who was trying to troll the former vice president at a campaign event in New Hampton.

When the man accused Biden of corruption related to the lucrative contract with a Ukrainian energy company his son, Hunter, won by trading on his family name, Biden blew his top. “You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden said.

But Biden, 77, took particular umbrage at his questioner’s suggestion that he was too old. “You want to check my shape?” Biden demanded. “Let’s do push-ups together, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.”

A little bit of righteous anger is a good thing for a candidate. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg does well, for example, when he lets his goody-two-shoes shtick drop a bit. Nobody wants a president who’s that Episcopalian. But Biden has a different set of problems.

In 1987 Biden had a similar run-in with a voter who asked him how he had placed in his law school class. “I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship,” Biden snapped. “I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like.”

Almost no voter alive today would remember much, if anything, about Biden’s woe-begotten past presidential runs. They’re more likely to remember the kindly, folksy, avuncular character that the Obama campaign and administration helped create.

The Joe Biden America knew before 2008, insofar as it knew him at all, was a quick-tempered, vain politician. They remembered the guy from the Anita Hill hearings.

Biden has worked hard in his 2020 run to maintain his “Uncle Joe” persona. He is Barack Obama’s friend, and your friend too, America. But as we draw closer to the election and as threats to his candidacy multiply – first from Buttigieg and now from former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg – Biden has had to leave the bubble a bit.

And now Biden faces the additional threat from potentially being one of six on this month’s debate stage rather than part of the cast of thousands that have appeared in what have passed for debates so far this cycle.

If Biden finally does founder it would be fitting that it would, as ever, be because of Iowa.

HOW HARRIS DROVE DEMOCRATS OFF A CLIFF
Politico: “Kamala Harris was hosting a town hall in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., two years ago when she made an announcement that set off a mad scramble in the U.S. Senate. ‘Here, I’ll break some news,’ Harris told hundreds of people packed into the sanctuary at Beebe Memorial Church on Aug. 30. ‘I intend to co-sponsor the ‘[Medicare] for All’ bill because it’s just the right thing to do,’ she said… By Sept. 13 – just two weeks after Harris’ town hall – all of them… surrounded Sanders at a Capitol Hill news conference and talked about how ‘proud’ they were to co-sponsor his legislation to upend the health care industry. … Harris equivocated after her initial declaration, reinforcing nagging questions about her core beliefs. She dropped out of the race on Tuesday. The only person who hasn’t budged is Sanders himself. The story of the embrace and then retreat from single-payer closely tracks the arc of the Democratic Party since Donald Trump’s election.”

Continetti: Medicare for All, the campaign killer – Free Beacon: “Once thought to be the fulfillment of the age-old dream of universal health care, Medicare for All is more like one of those ingenious Acme devices Wile E. Coyote uses to catch the Road Runner. It’s a catapult that launches you into the stratosphere. And right into a wall.”

Booker, Castro complain about not being in debate – Politico: “Cory Booker and Julián Castro are taking aim at the Democratic National Committee over a primary process they say is excluding them from debates but allowing a billionaire to buy his way on to the stage. California Sen. Kamala Harris’ abrupt departure from the 2020 race Tuesday has exposed the lack of diversity among the remaining group of top candidates. Despite falling from the top tier, Harris was the leading candidate of color and the only minority candidate to qualify for the Dec. 19 debate in Los Angeles. … The Booker and Castro campaigns say Harris’ announcement triggered an outpouring of financial support for them. … But that momentum is unlikely to earn them a lectern at the upcoming debate, as both candidates have little chance of reaching the 4 percent threshold in four approved polls before next Thursday’s deadline.”

Dems face impeachment balancing act – WaPo: “Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker are considering tele-town halls so they can beam into early-voting state campaign events. Advisers to Bernie Sanders hope his star supporter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), will stand in for him in Iowa. And Amy Klobuchar is preparing to scramble onto late-night flights while sending a small army of supporters to campaign in her stead. The likely Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, expected to dominate the first half of January, is scrambling plans for the sizable number of Democratic presidential candidates who, as senators, will be required to sit as jurors — taking them away from the final sprint of campaigning before voting begins Feb. 3 in Iowa. The convergence of impeachment proceedings and presidential politics is without precedent, with five of the 15 contenders for the Democratic nomination looking for creative ways to remain in the mix in early-voting states while spending most of their time back in Washington.”

THE RULEBOOK: IF YOU KNOW, THEN YOU KNOW 
“Those who can best discern the intrinsic difficulty of the thing, will be least hasty in condemning that opinion, and will be most inclined to allow due weight to the arguments which may be supposed to have produced it.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 65

TIME OUT: ‘SINCE WE’RE TOGETHER, WE MIGHT AS WELL SAY…’
Psychologist Adelia Moore on what parents can learn from Fred RogersThe Atlantic: “Children’s demands for attention can be grating, especially in the middle of the night or as a work deadline nears. … But as Mister Rogers knew, attention is at the heart of human relationships. Children benefit from the attention grown-ups give them in ordinary, everyday ways as well as harder moments when they are struggling. … The ubiquity of screens has made attention scarcer than ever, but children need it just as much as they always have. When parents pay attention to their children as Mister Rogers did — with genuine curiosity — they tend to focus more on what is happening between them and their children, and less on their own stresses and to-do lists. If they can establish a pattern of responsiveness, they can do what Mister Rogers did with his sweater, shoes, and song, and build up the sense of security that kids need to thrive.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26 points (no change in points)
Warren: 19.4 points (no change in points)
Sanders: 17.2 points (no change in points)
Buttigieg: 10.2 points (no change in points)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.8 percent
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove.]

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BOFFO JOBS REPORT BOOSTS GOP HOPES
WaPo: “The United States added 266,000 jobs in November as the jobless rate decreased to 3.5 percent, reflecting a surge of strength in the labor market that has muscled through recession fears that flared over the summer. The data, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beat expectations. Analysts had forecast roughly 180,000 new jobs for the month. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate is back at a 50-year low. The jobs data offer the latest snapshot into an economy that appears to have lost some steam from 2018 but continues to grow. Heading into President Trump’s fourth year in office, the labor market remains one of the economy’s biggest engines, and Trump regularly touts the low unemployment rate as one of his top achievements. ‘Looking at the high number of jobs that were added in November, you might forget that the story for most of this year was that the economy was slowing down,’ Indeed Hiring Lab research director Nick Bunker wrote in an analysis of the data Friday.”

SENATE GOP PUMPS BREAKS ON WILD TRIAL IDEAS
Politico: “Senate Republicans are beginning to deliver a reality check to the president and House Republicans that there are limits to what they can do. ‘You got two different bodies here,’ [Lindsey Graham], a stalwart Trump ally, told reporters on Thursday. ‘Are we going to start calling House members over here when we don’t like what they say or do? I don’t think so.’ Senate GOP leaders have signaled they intend to defend Trump wholeheartedly, but they’re also loath to let the upper chamber descend into chaos or divide their caucus ahead of a tough 2020 cycle. And even if Senate Republicans wanted to embrace the hard-line posture of the House, the party’s narrow majority makes that all but impossible under Senate rules. Calling controversial witnesses will require near lockstep party unity from 51 of the 53 Senate Republicans to make any procedural maneuvers, a tough task given the diverse views in the GOP, according to senators and aides.”

Trump faces deadline today on hearings – WaPo: “President Trump faces a 5 p.m. deadline Friday to announce whether he intends to have a lawyer participate in the remaining impeachment proceedings before the House Judiciary Committee, as Democrats accelerate their attempt to remove him from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) directed committee chairmen Thursday to begin the process of drafting articles of impeachment against Trump, with many Democrats anticipating that a full House vote could come before Christmas. At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden… In a bid to bolster the argument that Trump is facing a ‘partisan impeachment,’ his campaign manager, Brade Parscale, tweeted a two-decade-old video of Biden protesting Republican efforts to oust then-President Bill Clinton.”

Pelosi’s impeachment leap  NYT: “For months, Ms. [Nancy] Pelosi had resisted calls for impeachment. … People close to the speaker say that she has said privately what she often says publicly: She has never been eager to impeach the president. She worried that vulnerable moderates would lose their seats, that it would tear the country apart. And it was a distraction from the poll-tested agenda Democrats had campaigned on: lowering the cost of prescription drugs, raising the minimum wage, fighting corruption and gun violence. … How Ms. Pelosi got to ‘where we are today’ is in part the story of her sense of timing, her methodical approach to decision making and her ability to read the sensibilities and political needs of her fractious and often unruly caucus. As Washington’s most powerful Democrat, she is the only lawmaker in the Capitol who can, and routinely does, go toe to toe with the president.”

DEMS SWOON FOR BULLOCK SENATE RUN
Politico: “Washington Democrats are no longer pining for Beto O’Rourke. They’re far more infatuated with another ousted presidential candidate: Steve Bullock. O’Rourke has just three days before the Texas filing deadline to decide whether he wants to run against incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn. Yet many Senate Democrats aren’t sure O’Rourke would even be the strongest Senate candidate at this point after running to the left in his presidential run… Instead, Democrats are all about Bullock, even though the Montana governor has tried to squash talk of a Senate run every chance he gets — the latest on Wednesday when he said in Montana, ‘that’s just not what I want to do.’ But even as party officials are desperate for Bullock to run, they’re taking a soft approach for fear going too hard would backfire. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hasn’t talked to Bullock or O’Rourke… Still, Democratic senators are publicly encouraging Bullock to join their club.”

AUDIBLE: ANSWER THE PHONE!
“Let me be more blunt: When your caller ID says it’s a pollster calling, pick up.” – Cory Booker said to supporters in Iowa, per Politico. Booker still hasn’t qualified for the next Democratic debate.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., live from the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Is it possible the Dem’s rush to impeach has as much to do with Biden as Trump? Could it be they know he is a weak, tainted candidate and exposure is better before early primaries than later – leaving space for a more viable candidate to gain ground?  Locking in to Biden could be very damaging to their 2020 prospects.” – Sheila Willis, Toronto, Canada

[Ed. note: Without delving into the particulars of your accusation, Ms. Willis, let me offer this general advice for political observers: We all, regardless of party or sect, tend to attribute excessive wickedness and competency to our rivals. The misperception of wickedness is understandable since we would like to always think of ourselves and our fellows as the most virtuous. But the misperception of excessive cunning is because we never would like to think of our team losing in a fair fight. It is true that sometimes politicians pull off complicated, strategic maneuvers informed by great foresight. But that almost never happens. Almost everything you see in politics and government is the result of short-term thinking born of necessity.]

“…yesterday you wrote the word ‘allegation’ when referring to Dems impeachment push, but wrote ‘unfounded theory’ (not that I myself am a believer) when it comes to the Ukraine interference possibility. That is the definition of an allegation. Unsubstantiated yes, but an allegation. My God, with the absence of an actual witness, it is the impeachment accusations that are unfounded theories. … By this time last election cycle Halftime was providing updates on the various races for house and senate. Although I skimmed these then, where are they now?” – Anthony LoRe, Whitestone, N.Y.

[Ed. note: Oh how we would rather be doing Senate race ratings, Mr. LoRe! We love maps and charts and lists. It’s kind of our jam. But a couple of things: First, impeachment is just a huge, massively consequential story. We don’t have any idea what the near or long-term political ramifications will be (and neither does anyone else), so we have to stay on the story. Second, in a quadrennial presidential election, down-ballot races tend to be much more dependent on the national political climate. It’s almost impossible to say with useful exactitude which races will be competitive – beyond a few obvious ones – until we know the shape of the presidential contest. We will soon enough be doling out plenty for you to skim, though. As for the word choices you find objectionable, those were from the WaPo. When you’re trying to lead with breaking news, sometimes you have to accept imprecision from sources. I wouldn’t have used the loaded ‘unfounded theory,’ but c’est la vie.]     

“I haven’t seen you discuss Sturgill’s new record that just came out. ‘Sound and Fury’ is by far his most rock-n-roll album to date. I can’t stop listening to it. I remember you discussing ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,’ a few years ago. I thought your readers may want to check out this amazing record to take their collective minds off of the absolute sh*t-show that is happening in Washington right now. Right or Left, it’s just depressing to see what’s going on in our Capital. However, we’re Americans and this too shall pass. Merry Christmas.” – Patrick Wittbrodt II, Flint, Mich. 

[Ed. note: A battlefield commission for the Army of the Level-Headed for you, Brevet Col. Wittbrodt of the Old Northwest Division. Tippecanoe would be proud. As for Sturgill Simpson’s roadhouse rockabilly turn, I am a fan! “Sing Along” kicks ass. But I also thing he’s making a point. Listen to “Make Art Not Friends.” He sings, “Think I’m gonna just stay home and make art, not friends. I love saying ‘No’ to all the ‘Yes’ men just to see the look on their face.” Great artists sometimes have to defy expectations and conventions in order to retain their creative power. I think of David Bowie, the Coen brothers and Dave Chappelle and so many other great creators who were willing to blow up their brands rather than seek commercial success by replicating past successes. There’s a lot to be said for giving the people what they want, but for a handful of truly gifted artists, the quest for creativity outstrips the need to please. My hat is off to Mr. Simpson in a big way.]    

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

HONKED OFF
KSL: “Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason had never seen anything like it. A video taken on I-15 in Lehi shows a man playing a trumpet while he’s behind the wheel, with both of his hands on the instrument and both eyes looking at the sheet music in his lap, with the car speeding forward the entire time. The video is only a few seconds long but has gone viral on social media. … Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said there is technically no law against what the man was doing, but officers do have discretion to pull over unsafe drivers and would most likely advise him not to do it. Street also said there is a way the driver could have been arrested. ‘If they commit one or two moving violations while playing the trumpet with two hands going down the roadway, they would be in violation of the careless driving statute,’ Street says.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“But there is a problem with a clone. It is not really you. It is but a twin, a perfect John Doe Jr., but still a junior. With its own independent consciousness, it is, alas, just a facsimile of you.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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Jillian Michaels says political correctness is ‘glamorizing’ obesity

Westlake Legal Group jillian-michaels-wide Jillian Michaels says political correctness is 'glamorizing' obesity Tyler McCarthy fox-news/entertainment/genres/diet-fitness fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 72e16469-56a9-5df3-b4e2-3e5ab2f1353d

Jillian Michaels says the body positivity movement and political correctness are posing a potential health crisis in America.

The trainer, 45, spoke with Women’s Health U.K. ahead of the January relaunch of “The Biggest Loser” where she candidly discussed her concerns that being too accepting of obesity can pose a problem for society in the long run.

JILLIAN MICHAELS SLAMS THE KETO DIET: ‘BAD PLAN FOR A MILLION REASONS’

“I think we’re politically correct to the point of endangering people. Yes, we want to be inclusive of everyone [and respect that] everyone comes in all different shapes and size,” she told the outlet. “That nobody should ever be body shamed or fat-shamed or excluded and that everyone is equally deserving and should feel equally valuable. But obesity in itself is not something that should be glamorized. But we’ve become so politically correct that no one wants to say it.”

Michaels went on to note that she believes “The Biggest Loser” was a victim of this culture. After airing from 2004-2016, the show took a four-year break and is only just now coming back.

“I think the world has shifted to a place where that format and messaging is considered fat-shaming. But it isn’t, and it’s not meant to be. Now we’ve gone so far in the opposite direction,” Michaels explained.

For those unfamiliar, the reality competition series took obese contestants who wanted to lose weight and puts them through a difficult workout and diet regimen in the hopes of being the person to lose the most weight by the end of the competition.

JENNA JAMESON GAINS 20 POUNDS AFTER DITCHING KETO DIET: ‘I DECIDED TO LIVE MY BEST CARBY LIFE’

The fitness trainer caught some heat for her controversial opinions in January when she unequivocally came out against the ketogenic diet, which has a growing trend after celebrities such as Jenna Jameson and Halle Berry spoke out in support of the lifestyle. The diet requires people to be on a very low-carb and high-fat eating plan that Michaels said is an overall bad move.

“I don’t understand. Like, why would anyone think this is a good idea,” Michaels said in a Women’s Health video.

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“Your cells, your macromolecules, are literally made up of protein, fat, carbohydrates, nucleic acids. When you do not eat one of the three macronutrients — those three things I just mentioned — you’re starving yourselves,” Michaels continued. “Those macronutrients serve a very important purpose for your overall health and wellbeing. Each and every one of them.”

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