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May 1, 2014

On Sunday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called in to a New Nation of Islam radio program to talk about racism in the government. He had some thoughts on the topic.

The 11-term congressman argued that racism is behind much of the GOP's strong opposition to and "disrespect" for President Obama, specifically citing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's early pledge to oppose anything Obama proposed ("Now if that's not a racist statement I don't know what is"). Then Thompson called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom," adding that "it's almost to the point saying this man doesn't like black people, he doesn't like being black."

Even the New Nation of Islam host, who calls himself the Son of Man, was taken aback by the "Uncle Tom" reference. But Thompson stood by the remark in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Wednesday — not many members of Congress or the Washington press corps listen to New Nation of Islam radio, so it took a few days for BuzzFeed to pick up the quotes and for everyone to get upset.

Thompson explained to Bash that every decision Thomas has signed on to at the court has "been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African American not being sensible to those issues." When Bash asked if "Uncle Tom" isn't "a racially charged term," Thompson responded: "For some it is, but to others it's the truth." Here's Thompson's interview with Bash:

Thompson further argued that he can call someone an "Uncle Tom" because he's black. I suspect that theory will quickly be put to the test in Washington and in his Jackson-based district — the only majority-black district in Mississippi (Thompson is the only Democrat in Mississippi's congressional delegation). You can listen to Thompson's factually questionable thoughts on Republican racism, via BuzzFeed, or hear his "Uncle Tom" remarks below. --Peter Weber

3:09 p.m. ET

When the Federal Communications Commission announced its plan to dismantle net neutrality laws back in January, comments started pouring in to the FCC website — a record-breaking 22 million of them.

In 2015, a public commenting period led to Obama-era guidelines protecting net neutrality. But bots intent on dismantling net neutrality took over this round, Vanity Fair reported, borrowing real Americans' addresses to leave hundreds of thousands of comments under fake identities advocating against the rules. And with FCC chairman Ajit Pai's Monday confirmation that net neutrality rules are coming down, it looks like they're getting their wish.

In an open letter to Pai, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that he's been investigating these questionable comments for months. But the FCC hasn't cooperated:

Schneiderman said the situation likely violated state laws, as it used New Yorkers' identities to leave fake comments. Yet despite multiple requests, the FCC has refused to aid Schneiderman's investigation — meaning "the door is open for (this) to happen again and again," he wrote. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:09 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump Organization is walking away from its struggling hotel in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, The New York Times reports. It is the second hotel the organization has removed its name from this year, after a similar situation developed in Toronto.

The SoHo building, which also has condominiums, closed its main restaurant earlier this year due to a decline in business "since the election," in the words of one of its lawyers. The owner of the building, the CIM Group, reportedly reached a deal to buyout the Trump Organization from the property; the Trump company manages daily operations at the building. "The Board and CIM have been first class in every regard," said the CEO of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, in a statement. "We have truly enjoyed our relationship and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the future."

On Monday, The Telegraph reported that the average price for a weekend at a Trump hotel dropped by 36 percent in the last year. Jeva Lange

2:28 p.m. ET

Ahh, Thanksgiving. That special time of year when you set out your most over-the-top centerpiece, strap on your eating pants, and gather around the table to talk tax policy with relatives you only see once a year.

That's what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) imagines happens, anyway. On Monday, Schumer tweeted a chart made by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, instructing his followers to bring it to "Thanksgiving dinner" to whip out when "that family member who always talks politics tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class," the Washington Examiner reports.

But Schumer wasn't done delivering graphics for you to surprise your unsuspecting relative with at some point between the turkey carving and the pumpkin pie:

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Chuck! Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. John Conyers' legacy was upended Monday when a BuzzFeed News report detailed sexual harassment allegations made against the Michigan Democrat. Now, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press, his slightly left-leaning hometown paper, is calling for him to step down.

The longtime congressman is known as a civil rights icon and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, facts the Free Press acknowledged in its scathing editorial published Tuesday. But he's also been accused of making sexual advances toward an employee — and having her fired when she refused.

That's enough to spark an inquiry into Conyers, the Free Press said. But his misconduct runs deeper: If the victim dropped her formal complaint against Conyers, his office said it would "re-hire" her and pay her as a temporary employee. The woman eventually agreed to those terms, receiving more than $27,000 over the course of three months. It's similar to a time Conyers kept paying his former chief of staff even after she was fired — payments the Free Press said look like "hush money."

While the editorial board did suggest reforming the Congressional Office of Compliance so these payoffs don't keep happening, that is "not the point with Conyers." "It's a betrayal that breaches the most fundamental trust that exists between a public servant and the people that person represents," the Free Press wrote.

And that's why, even after a "stellar" 53 years in office, the paper is calling on Conyers to step down. You can read the Detroit Free Press' full editorial here. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:03 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Russian ads reportedly reached an estimated 126 million Facebook users during the presidential campaign, likely leaving some people wondering if they are among those who might have fallen for Kremlin propaganda. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced that it will be creating a page to help users identify which accounts they liked or followed that were discovered to be linked back to a Russian "troll farm," Axios reports. Facebook says to expect the tool to be available in its Help Center by the end of the year, The Hill reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had demanded that Facebook "individually notify any and all users who received or interacted with [Russian] advertisements and associated content," issuing similar orders to Twitter and Google. Facebook, though, will not tell users "whether they were exposed to content from the [Russian troll farm's] pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them," Axios notes.

Facebook admitted in September that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian troll farm during the election. Check out one particularly humorous example of a Russian ad here. Jeva Lange

1:02 p.m. ET

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"

CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."

Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:23 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

Your inner goddess will undoubtedly say "Yeah, right" when she hears all the supposed benefits of using a Vortix Eye Massager ($485). The battery-operated plastic mask aims foremost to soothe the fine muscles and nerves of the eyes and temples using vibration, air massage, and heat. Fine: Every goddess with a desk job or smartphone has once said, "Mine eyes, they are strained and sore." Vortix promises more than relief, though, claiming that eye massage tames stress, insomnia, migraines, and dark circles. Oh, and one more thing: Because it stimulates neglected nerves, it can, ostensibly, restore a user's vision. The Week Staff

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