Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has turned Charles and David Koch into his favorite punching bags this year, repeatedly dinging the billionaire brothers for bankrolling GOP interests. Yet in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd Thursday, Reid offered a puzzling pronouncement: Sure the Kochs are bad, but Sheldon Adelson, another GOP mega-donor, is A-okay.
"I know Sheldon Adelson," Reid said. "He's not in this for money."
The Kochs, he explained, "are in it to make money" and to "add zeros to their billions," whereas Adelson is "in it because he has certain ideological views."
Adelson has donated millions of dollars as part of an effort to ban internet gambling, something that would directly threaten his bottom line. And there was much speculation in 2012 that Adelson — who dropped $90 million on the election — did so in hopes of putting business-friendly Republicans in Congress and the White House.
Adelson also happens to be from Reid's home state, so draw whatever conclusions you may want to from that. Jon Terbush
Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers revealed Wednesday on CBS This Morning. "He's changed the way we listen to music, he's changed the way we have fun, the way that we cry," Rodgers said, calling Jay Z a "revolutionary."
The 21-time Grammy winner is in the 2017 class of inductees alongside Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Max Martin, Robert Lamm, James Pankow, and Peter Cetera. Madonna, George Michael, and Cat Stevens were among the nominated artists who didn't make the cut.
Jay Z — known for hits like "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," "Empire State of Mind," and "Big Pimpin'," as well as for being married to Beyoncé — was reportedly "so over the moon" about his induction. "He was flipping out, he was going crazy," said Hall of Fame President Linda Moran.
Artists become eligible for the Hall of Fame 20 years after their first hit; Jay Z's first was his 1996 album Reasonable Doubt. Though Jay Z was nominated last year, he wasn't selected. "To be honest with you, last year we talked about it a lot," Moran told The New York Times. "Our board and community wasn't ready. This year we felt that they had been educated enough."
The induction ceremony is slated for June 15 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Becca Stanek
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once had his eyes set on the highest attainable office for a public servant: the Oval Office. When that didn't work out, he set his eyes on the second highest: the vice presidency. That didn't quite work out either.
After a couple false starts along the way (see: Christie as Trump's hostage; Christie as Trump's unwilling meatloaf-eating partner), Christie might finally be looking to do something a little more deserving of his signature "Jersey attitude." The divisive governor is reportedly among the candidates to replace Mike Francesa as the host of WFAN 660-AM's afternoon drive show, New York's biggest sports-talk radio program, NorthJersey.com reports.
"I would certainly at least want to consider him," said the station's program director, Mike Chernoff, of Christie last week. "If he's interested and we're interested, it's worth pursuing."
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) February 22, 2017
Christie, by all indications, appears on board. "As my son said — he said, I can't believe I've been listening to you talk about sports my entire life and that someone might actually pay you to do that," Christie explained.
Philadelphia sports fans might not quite believe it either. Get a taste of what could be in store for WFAN below. Jeva Lange
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) February 16, 2017
As life expectancies around the world continue to rise, the United States finds itself with the lowest life expectancy of all high-income countries, a new study published in the Lancet has discovered. While women in South Korea are projected to live to an average age of 90.8 years by 2030, American women are only expected to live 83.3 years, similar to what's expected in Mexico or Croatia.
Researchers blamed a number of factors for Americans' unimpressive outlook, including greater obesity rates, homicides, road accidents — and a lack of universal healthcare. Majid Ezzati, a professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London, said part of why South Korea is so successful, on the other hand, is the country's investment in childhood nutrition, education, and technology, and also widespread access to good health care.
In 2015, the global life expectancy was 71.4 years. "This [study] shows that even if there is a limit to longevity, we are nowhere near it," Ezzati said. "We should be planning for more life." Jeva Lange
The latest Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday revealed Americans have a pretty bleak impression of their new commander-in-chief. President Trump earned his lowest net approval rating since he took office, with just 38 percent approving of the job he's done so far and 55 percent of Americans disapproving.
Americans didn't rate Trump's "personal qualities" much better:
- 55 percent said Trump "is not honest."
- 55 percent said he lacks "good leadership skills."
- 63 percent said he "is not level-headed."
- 60 percent said he "does not share their values."
In what might be the biggest blow to Trump, the poll also found that Americans trust the media — which Trump recently declared the "enemy of the American people" — more than they trust Trump to tell "the truth about the important issues."
All in all, Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Tim Malloy deemed this a "terrible survey one month in." "President Donald Trump's popularity is sinking like a rock," Malloy said in a press release. "He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level-headedness, and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows."
The poll was conducted by telephone from Feb. 16-21 among 1,323 registered voters. The margin of error among registered voters is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Becca Stanek
The White House might be temporarily "sidelining" Kellyanne Conway from television after reporters and TV show hosts raised questions about her credibility, CNN reports. Conway has not given a television interview since last week when she claimed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn volunteered his resignation, prompting clarification from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said President Trump had asked Flynn to resign.
Conway was reportedly "off message," a person familiar with the discussions told CNN. "Clearly they're having much more of a drama-free week. Having Kellyanne off television is helping them." Another person familiar with Conway's alleged sidelining told CNN: "Trump was using her as an effective surrogate, then she started becoming ineffective, so they're letting the heat cool off."
The White House has flatly denied CNN's reports. "This is another wild goose chase," White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said. "Kellyanne has a number of media appearances this week and also has a large portfolio at the [White House] and is spending significant time focusing on it." Jeva Lange
NASA announced Wednesday that it has found an entire solar system that could potentially support life. Some 40 light-years away lies a grouping of seven planets, all roughly the size of Earth, orbiting closely around a single dwarf star. Scientists initially reported the system last year, but at that point they only knew of three planets orbiting the star.
The discovery, uncovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, sets the record for "the most Earth-sized planets and most potentially habitable planets ever discovered around a single star," NPR reported. NASA noted in a press release that all seven of the planets could have "liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions." "This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Answering the question 'Are we alone?' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal."
Scientists plan to further explore the solar system. But already, University of Leiden astronomy professor Ignas Snellen said, the discovery indicates these systems are "even more common than previously thought." Becca Stanek
President Trump's former campaign staff formulated a strategy for keeping the quick-to-tweet candidate off of Twitter, and it involved healthy doses of praise from the media. When there was none, the staffers would work with Trump-friendly outlets to ensure there would be something they could print and deliver to Trump's desk, Politico reports:
For example, when Trump engaged in a Twitter war with the father of a slain Muslim U.S. soldier in Iraq, Khizr Khan, the team set up a meeting with Gold Star Mothers of Florida and made sure to plant the story in conservative media. Breitbart also wrote stories about Khan's relationships with the Democratic Party. "We made sure that conservative media was aware of it, they connected the echo chamber," the former official said.
During another damage-control mission, when former Miss Universe Alicia Machado took to the airwaves to call out Trump for calling her "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping," the communications team scrambled to place a story in conservative friendly outlets like Fox News, the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, and Breitbart. [Politico]
"If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable," explained former communications director Sam Nunberg. Another former Trump campaign official added: "[Trump] saw there was activity so he didn't feel like he had to respond. He sends out these tweets when he feels like people aren't responding enough for him."
Politico adds that aides in the White House might be taking note, as they have noticed "leaving [Trump] alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House." Jeva Lange