Lots of serious political commentators viewed the unexpected Monica Lewinsky essay in last week's Vanity Fair through the frame of how it will (or won't) affect Hillary Clinton's possible 2016 presidential run. On the Fox News side of the political spectrum, noted Stephen Colbert on Monday night's Colbert Report, the lens was more narrowly focused on why Hillary got Vanity Fair to run the Lewinsky essay now.
Colbert ran through the most-voiced conspiracy theory — that Team Clinton wants this rehashed now so it will (again) be old news by next year ("Because if there's one thing the conservative media is known for, it's letting things go") — but then he delved into an increasingly silly list of ways the Clinton cabal is manipulating the news media. Speaking of old news, this would have been timelier last week. But nation, good comedy writing has a long statute of limitations. --Peter Weber
Fox News' Jesse Watters insists he wasn't making 'a joke about anything else' when he complimented Ivanka Trump's microphone handling
Fox News reporter Jesse Watters swore Wednesday that he wasn't making any sort of sexual innuendo when he praised Ivanka Trump for how she handled her microphone during a recent appearance in Berlin.
Watters' clarification was in response to a remark he made on Tuesday's episode of The Five that raised eyebrows. After playing a brief clip of the first daughter speaking into the microphone at the Berlin event, Watters slammed the left for claiming they "really respect women and then when given an opportunity to respect a woman like that, they boo and hiss."
Trump was booed while speaking at a women's conference in Germany after she claimed her dad, President Trump, is a "tremendous champion of families."
Watters followed up his criticism of the left with a comment that some found to be, well, kind of suggestive. "So I don't really get what's going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone," Watters said, grinning.
WATCH: Jesse Watters on Fox News re Ivanka Trump: "I really like how she was speaking into that microphone" pic.twitter.com/HoJHLpMtq1
— Yashar (@yashar) April 26, 2017
Watters explained in a tweet Wednesday that his remark "was in no way a joke about anything else." He just really, really liked Trump's voice, he said. Becca Stanek
On air I was referring to Ivanka's voice and how it resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.
— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) April 26, 2017
After a tough month on the public relations front, United Airlines is now dealing with the alleged death of a giant rabbit in the cargo hold of one of its trans-Atlantic flights. The rabbit in question is a massive 3-foot-long bunny named Simon, who was the son of the world's largest rabbit and apparently on track to become the world's next biggest bunny.
— The Independent (@Independent) April 26, 2017
Simon was traveling from London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to meet his new celebrity owner. Breeder Annette Edwards told The Associated Press that Simon had been checked out by a vet just three hours before he boarded the plane. "He was fit as a fiddle," she said.
Edwards claimed she's "sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before." "Something very strange has happened and I want to know what," she said.
United said that it was "saddened" by the news and had offered assistance to Edwards. The incident is under investigation. "The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team," the airline said.
BBC noted that animal deaths on planes are "rare but not unheard of," with U.S. airlines reporting 35 animal deaths in 2015. Fourteen of those deaths were reportedly on United flights, which appears to have the highest animal death rate of any other U.S. airline.
This is just the latest PR mess the airline has had to sort out. In March, the airline caught flak for refusing to allow two girls wearing leggings to board the plane, citing its dress code for employees and their guests. Earlier this month, international outrage erupted after a paying customer was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight. Becca Stanek
ESPN is cutting around 100 staffers this week, including writers and on-air reporters, anchors, and analysts, Bloomberg reports. In a statement about their "content evolution strategy," the company said: "In short, given how fans' habits are changing, our focus continues to be providing high-quality, distinctive content at any minute of the day on any screen."
John Skipper has just sent memo to all @espn employees. Layoffs announced today. Around 50 names you will recognize; another 50 you may not.
— jamesmiller (@JimMiller) April 26, 2017
ESPN, which employs around 8,000 people worldwide, has struggled as the costs of rights deals with sports leagues and college conferences have soared amid falling cable subscribers. ESPN is typically the highest-priced station included in TV packages, and as people increasingly switch to alternative modes of watching television, the network has found itself feeling the squeeze.
After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2017
Additionally, "the availability of results and news online is ... contributing to viewer losses for the network's flagship SportsCenter program," Bloomberg writes. "ESPN is devoting more time to commentary shows filmed in the studio and less to reports from the field, reducing the need for correspondents." Jeva Lange
A majority of Republicans think Obama spied on Trump and a majority of Democrats think Trump conspired with Russia
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday revealed just how radically different Democrats' and Republicans' perceptions of Russia's election meddling are. On the whole, 56 percent of Americans believe Russia tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an allegation that bipartisan leaders of Congress have said there is evidence to support. But when broken down by party, the numbers diverge drastically: Just 32 percent of strong conservatives believe Russia meddled, while 77 percent of liberals believe the Kremlin tried to play a hand in the election's results.
That split deepens even further when the question of possible foul play by U.S. presidents arises. A majority of leaned Republicans (55 percent) think former President Barack Obama spied on President Trump during the election. A majority of leaned Democrats (60 percent) think Trump's campaign tried to help Russia to influence the election. Just 14 percent of Democrats believe Obama spied on Trump, and a slim 18 percent of Republicans think Trump had anything to do with Russia's meddling.
To further complicate matters, neither party is particularly confident Congress can get to the bottom of this. Fifty-five percent of Democrats aren't confident Congress will lead a fair investigation, and Republicans are evenly split (46 percent to 46 percent) on whether or not Congress' investigation will be fair.
The poll was conducted by phone from April 17-20 among 1,004 adults. Its overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Becca Stanek
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson infuriated the leader of the 55-nation African Union after backing out of their scheduled meeting at the last minute, Foreign Policy reports. Experts on African diplomacy say the snub could result in "lasting consequences and potentially burn bridges that took decades to build."
People familiar with the snafu told Foreign Policy that Tillerson had invited Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki from talks at the United Nations in New York to a meeting in Washington, D.C., the week of April 17. But after Faki scheduled his trip, Tillerson "went radio silent for several days."
"Tillerson's team eventually got back to Faki's entourage as he was about to depart New York and offered a meeting with lower-level State Department officials, but Faki cancelled his Washington visit entirely," Foreign Policy writes.
"This is ridiculous, particularly at a time when Africans are increasingly becoming more and more aware of their choices in partners around the world," explained Reuben Brigety, the former U.S. ambassador to the African Union. He told Foreign Policy that canceling a meeting and not informing the dignitary until the last minute is "just the dumbest thing in the world."
Faki has the potential to be a valuable ally to the Trump administration as he has worked extensively to fight terrorism in Africa and is also leading a war against the Boko Haram extremists as minister of foreign affairs for Chad. "This was going to be a courtesy visit, an easy win [for Tillerson]," said Melvin Foote, the president and chief executive of the nonprofit Constituency for Africa. "Why would you not want this meeting to happen?" Jeva Lange
The fine print of a new Republican health-care amendment apparently indicates that members of Congress want to keep Affordable Care Act provisions for themselves while repealing them for the rest of the country, Vox reports. Introduced Tuesday night, the amendment would allow states to waive the ObamaCare ban on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums or the requirement to cover essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health services, or emergency room visits — except it would not apply to members of Congress or their staffs.
"A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case," Vox writes. "Members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these ObamaCare regulations."
In other words:
If Congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides that are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as ObamaCare's essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.
This apparently does not sound appealing because the Republican amendment includes the members of Congress and their staff as a protected group who cannot be affected by this amendment. [Vox]
There is actually a red button on the president's Oval Office desk, but contrary to any Cold War movie you've ever seen, it does not immediately launch America's arsenal of nukes. In fact, President Trump presses it all the time — whenever he wants a Coke.
A man accustomed to wealth and its trappings, Trump has embraced life in the Executive Mansion, often regaling guests with trivia about the historic decor. With the push of a red button placed on the Resolute Desk that presidents have used for decades, a White House butler soon arrived with a Coke for the president. [The Associated Press]
Bloomberg Businessweek's Joshua Green points out that this is, at least, more polite than the alternative:
Trump's red Coke button seems like an improvement on his old method pic.twitter.com/WltO2qK52Z
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) April 25, 2017
Besides being a big fan of Coke (but not Diet Coke!), Trump has a few similarities with the bubbly beverage himself. Read about how Trump could wind up the "New Coke" of presidents here at The Week. Jeva Lange