April 24, 2014

Over at HuffPost Live, Ryan Grim and Alexis Goldstein conducted a fascinating 45-minute interview with Thomas Piketty, the economist whose book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is currently a bestseller on Amazon. Among their most interesting questions:

Does the economics profession need a course correction? (starts at 10:04)

Are the massive salaries of executives (who often sit on the boards for their executive friends) overvalued relative to their real worth? (17:32)

Would we have more luck globally coordinating taxes on property than we've had coordinating regulations on Wall Street? (28:28)

Watch below. --Ryan Cooper

4:35 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton is clearly winning this election because she has already declared that after three debates, she no longer has to respond to Donald Trump's attacks, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "Yes, Hillary says she's not giving any thought to what Donald Trump says, so that makes both of them now." This gave Colbert a crazy idea: "Trump clearly feeds on attention, so this might work. By denying it to him, we can starve him out. So I pledge, I pledge right now I will spend the rest of the monologue not talking about Donald Trump."

That vow lasted for maybe 30 seconds. Then Colbert turned to Trump's big speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over the weekend, which started out strong enough, with talk of healing a divided nation. "It's true: America is divided between those who think Trump will lose because the election is rigged, and those who think he'll lose because it is not," Colbert said, noting that after about 45 seconds, Trump launched into a diatribe against the women who have accused him of groping and other unwanted sexual advances.

"I can't believe that he would go to Gettysburg and give a speech that was so far from the spirit of the Gettysburg Address," Colbert said. "It is just ridiculous." The ghost of Abraham Lincoln appeared and told Colbert he was wrong, that Trump's speech was actually very similar to the first draft of his famous address. "My advisers made me tone it down, would you like to hear of it?" Lincoln's Ghost said. And you know, the ghost of Abe Lincoln was right: that first draft did have a notable Trumpian quality to it. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:06 a.m. ET

"Do you ever wish you were running against Donald Trump?" Jimmy Kimmel asked President Obama on Monday's Kimmel Live, noting that Vice President Joe Biden said he would rather "take him behind the gym" than debate Trump. Obama laughed the laugh of a man who never has to run for anything again. "You know, I think Hillary is doing just fine," he said. "I am enjoying campaigning on her behalf, and also campaigning for Senate and House candidates, because look, we joke about Donald Trump but I do think that part of the reason you've seen Michelle passionate in this election, part of the reason that we get involved as much as we have, is not just because we think Hillary is going to be a great president, but it's also because there is something qualitatively different about the way Trump has operated in the political sphere."

"Look, I ran against John McCain, I ran against Mitt Romney — obviously I thought that I could do a better job, but they're both honorable men, and if they had won, I wouldn't worry about the general course of this country," Obama said, outlining the ways he things Trump is different. "Regardless of what your political preferences are, and your policy preferences, there is a certain responsibility and expectation in terms of how you behave, how you present yourself...."

"I've heard this speech before, believe me," Kimmel cut in, lightening the mood. When Obama went on, he added, "No, I didn't mean from you, I meant by guidance counselors to me." Listen, Obama said, "if you are willing to say anything and do anything, even when it undermines everything that has been built by previous generations, you know, that's a problem."

Earlier, Kimmel asked Obama if he ever actually laughs at Trump, especially while watching the GOP nominee during the debates. "Most of the time," Obama said. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:50 a.m. ET

Megyn Kelly noted on Monday's Kelly File that Donald Trump had used his big speech at Gettysburg to threaten lawsuits against women accusing him of sexual assault, that another women came forward anyway with new accusations on Sunday, and that on Monday, Trump said sarcastically that the woman, Jessica Drake, is "a porn star," and "I'm sure she's never been grabbed before." Kelly played that audio clip, then said, "Oh boy."

"Well, the Trump campaign communications adviser Jason Miller, who we like, was set to appear on The Kelly File tonight," she said, "but he canceled not long after the campaign asked us if we would bring this issue up tonight, and we said, 'Maybe. We're going to talk about Trump's speech at Gettysburg, and Trump is the one who brought up suing the women." Kelly then implicitly called Miller a chicken: "Joining me now, Julie Roginsky, who's brave enough to walk onto the set, and even when it's bad news for her candidate, she does as well."

Kelly asked Roginsky, a Democratic strategist, about Trump's comments, and she said dryly, "Well, you know, the slut-shaming, I think, is kind of inappropriate." When Kelly noted that some critics are saying Drake can't really be offended by Trump's allegedly propositioning her for sex since she is paid to have sex on camera, Roginsky said she couldn't speak to Drake's feelings "but I think the forcible kissing is the issue for me."

"Again, I want to stress, it's her word against his, he deserves the presumption of innocence," Roginsky added. "I look forward to the depositions in his lawsuit when they come out." "No, he's not going to sue anybody, please," Kelly laughed. "By the way, he didn't say — if he's going to sue them after the election, I assume that means only if he loses, otherwise we're going to have a really awkward first 100 days."

Hillary Clinton wants us all to believe she's "so squeaky clean," Kelly said, pivoting, "but she does some dirty stuff, too. So it is not impossible that there was some coordination, at some level, by the Clinton campaign with one or more of these women." "I think this is very much like Bill Cosby, where you have a torrent of women coming out, and one begets the next," Roginsky said, adding that some accusers "have said they're not voting for Hillary, they don't like Hillary, they're Republicans." Peter Weber

1:25 a.m. ET

Just in time to completely ruin your New Year's resolution to not eat dessert for breakfast, two limited edition cereals based on Girl Scout cookies will hit shelves in January 2017.

General Mills announced the new products on Monday, with spokesman Mike Siemienas saying more details are forthcoming. The two flavors are both crowd pleasers: Thin Mints, like the Girl Scout cookie of the same name, and Caramel Crunch, based on the Caramel deLite/Samoa. Some of the proceeds from cereal sales will go to the Girl Scouts of the USA, which says it agreed to the deal with General Mills in order to generate more awareness of its program. Bringing attention to the Girl Scouts while making it possible to eat Thin Mints in a whole new way? That's a win/win. Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m. ET

As Donald Trump's campaign "sputters to a close," Trump has resorted to "a series of increasingly paranoid attacks" on the media, pollsters, banks, and even alligators, Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, citing a speech Trump gave in Florida on Sunday. "I think Trump's fear of alligators solidifies his role as 2016's Captain Hook — but you know, with a super tiny hook." Trump aired his grievances, and threatened to sue every woman accusing him of sexual assault, at a Saturday speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was supposed to focus on his presidential mien and serious policies, Meyers said. "Basically, Trump did worse at Gettysburg than the South did." Somehow this led to a video of Abe Lincoln's lewd hot-mic comments on the Access Pennsylvania train.

"So now, instead of trying to win the election by saying things that might actually get more people to vote for him, Trump has decided instead to complain that it's rigged against him," adding to the list of riggers the estimated 1.75 million dead people who are still on the voter rolls nationwide, Meyers said, adding, "Yeah, they may be registered, but I have a feeling turnout will be low." Trump's lashing out at alligators and dead people isn't depressing voter turnout, he noted, pointing to the long lines as early voting kicks off in places like North Carolina. "People are waiting in line for four hours to vote!" Meyers said. "To put that in context, four hours is longer than Donald Trump prepared for any of the debates." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:41 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

A committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association (ABA) commissioned a report on Donald Trump's use of libel lawsuits, real and threatened, and veteran First Amendment lawyer and former journalist Susan E. Seager returned with an article titled "Donald J. Trump Is a Libel Bully but Also a Libel Loser." The ABA declined to publish the report in the committee's journal as written, The New York Times reports, and one of its reasons was "the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump."

Seager studied seven cases in which Trump and his companies filed lawsuits pertaining to free speech; Trump lost four, withdrew two, and in the final case obtained a default judgment in private arbitration after the former beauty contest participant failed to appear in court. "Donald J. Trump is a libel bully," the report begins. "Like most bullies, he's also a loser, to borrow from Trump's vocabulary." But while "journalists and whistleblowers" won in court, it noted, that came "at significant cost of time, energy, and money."

The ABA wanted to change the headline to "Presidential Election Demonstrates Need for Anti-Slapp Laws" and cut the first paragraph calling Trump a "libel bully" and a "loser." In an Oct. 19 email, ABA deputy executive director James Dimos said the changes were needed to address "the legitimately held views of ABA staff who are charged with managing the reputational and financial risk to the association," adding that reducing the likelihood of a lawsuit by "removing inflammatory language" is "the same advice members of the forum would provide to their own clients."

Lots of First Amendment and media lawyers, including three former chairmen of the ABA's media-law committee, disagreed. "It is more than a little ironic," one former chairman, David J. Bodney, told The New York Times, "that a publication dedicated to the exploration of First Amendment issues is subjected to censorship when it seeks to publish an article about threats to free speech." Seager agreed. "I wanted to alert media lawyers that a lot of these threats are very hollow," she said, adding that the ABA's actions proved her point: "The ABA took out every word that was slightly critical of Donald Trump."

You can read the unchanged report at the Medial Law Resource Center, and learn more about the ABA's stated rationale for seeking those changes — including that it is nonpartisan — at The New York Times. Peter Weber

12:28 a.m. ET

President Obama is used to criticism, which is why when he read aloud mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night, he let such disses as "Barack Obama is the Sharknado of presidents. Loud, stupid, and over-hyped!" roll off his back.

While Obama let @Woodstockdave get away with saying he "couldn't negotiate getting a Whopper without pickles," he didn't let @Maaaaartz get off so easily — after he accused Obama of dancing "like how his jeans look," the president encouraged him to find a new insult. "You know, this jeans thing, this is so old," he said. "This is years ago. C'mon."

Obama saved the best burn for last, after he read a barb from perhaps the world's most prolific Twitter user, the man of 33,800 tweets and counting, @realDonaldTrump, who declared: "President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!" Obama's response, before dropping his phone since he didn't have a mic? "Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

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