March 18, 2014

It may have taken him two years, but Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy finally realized that voicing his opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling that recognized same-sex marriage wasn't the smartest idea.

Cathy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he shouldn't have taken a stance in the marriage debate and is still working to disassociate some people's views that the company is homophobic. But, hey, he learned a lot from the PR nightmare:

"Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make. And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you're just a fool. I'm thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it." [AJC]

Regardless, he's still against same-sex marriage, since it doesn't align with his Christian beliefs. Going forward, Cathy said he's going to keep quieter and focus his efforts on expanding the chicken joint's business. Read the rest of the interview at the newspaper's website. Jordan Valinsky

9:37 a.m. ET

During his combative press conference Tuesday, President Trump was asked if statues of Robert E. Lee should stay up. "I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located," Trump answered.

By Thursday, though, Trump had shared more of his thoughts about the removal of statues:

Trump hasn't always had such an appreciation for sculpture, Mother Jones points out. As Harry Hurt III writes in his book Lost Tycoon, Trump once ordered demolition workers to destroy two historic Art Deco friezes coveted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to expedite the construction of Trump Tower. Jeva Lange

9:10 a.m. ET

As America remains gripped by the violent protests that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend, "tens of millions" of people have tuned into a 22-minute Vice documentary to learn more about what's going on, CNN reports.

The overwhelming success of "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" is a major win for HBO's Vice News Tonight, which launched in October as "an immersive alternative to traditional broadcast and cable nightly newscasts," CNN writes. HBO allowed the documentary to be shared on YouTube, extending the reach of the program. To date, it has reached around 500,000 people on HBO when it aired Monday and earned another 3 million views on YouTube and 25 million views on Facebook. Excerpts of the program were also aired on networks like CNN and NBC.

"I knew we had something pretty unique and pretty horrifying," said the program's executive producer, Josh Tyrangiel. Watch below. Jeva Lange

8:31 a.m. ET

The Economist and Time have released images of their covers for next week, and they're a doozy:

The references to the KKK and neo-Nazis are extraordinary and dismaying in 2017. Read more about how Charlottesville is a turning point here at The Week. Jeva Lange

8:00 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Wednesday, endangered chief strategist Stephen Bannon gave two eyebrow-raising interviews, although at least one he has since argued was intended to be "off the record." The other, with The New York Times, saw Bannon defending Trump on Charlottesville and arguing that the left has picked the wrong fight.

"President Trump, by asking, 'Where does this all end' — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — connects with the American people about their history, culture, and traditions," Bannon told the Times. "The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it's all racist."

For good measure, Bannon added: "Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can't get enough of it."

One person was killed and more than a dozen others injured when a Charlottesville protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters on Saturday. Critics of Trump's response to Charlottesville are also quick to point out that the president has apparently equivocated white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members with counter-protesters on the left.

As Politico observes: "Bannon is an incredibly savvy political operator who talks to reporters all the time, and did these interviews for some reason ... Whatever his motivation was, he felt like he should dial up some reporters and get his take out there." Jeva Lange

7:56 a.m. ET

When you order a test of your genetic makeup from or 23andMe, the results you get back are often a surprise. When you are racial purist like white separatist Craig Cobb, that shock can be pretty upsetting, as Cobb found out on Trisha Goddard's talk show in 2013:

Cobb didn't just protest that his African ancestry was "statistical noise" on British TV, though. Like dozens of white supremacists, he went on the white nationalist website Stormfront to dispute the results, reports Eric Boodman at Stat News. Generally speaking, if you want to be a member of the Stormfront community, "you have to be 100 percent white European, not Jewish," says sociologist Aaron Panofsky, who read thousands of Stormfront posts with partner Joan Donovan to find out how white supremacists handle the news that they aren't as white as they think — which happens about two-thirds of the time. They presented their research, coincidentally, on Monday at a conference in Montreal.

Some of the Stormfront users' critiques of the accuracy of spit-in-a-cup genetic ancestry testing are similar to ones by scientists, at least when it comes to determining race. But others have folksier ways to dispute the results, Panofsky says, like the "mirror test" — "They will say things like, 'If you see a Jew in the mirror looking back at you, that's a problem; if you don't, you're fine'" — or calling genetic tests a Jewish conspiracy "to confuse true white Americans about their ancestry," he explains. Boodman continues:

For the study authors, what was most interesting was to watch this online community negotiating its own boundaries, rethinking who counts as "white." That involved plenty of contradictions. They saw people excluded for their genetic test results, often in very nasty (and unquotable) ways, but that tended to happen for newer members of the anonymous online community, Panofsky said, and not so much for longtime, trusted members. Others were told that they could remain part of white nationalist groups, in spite of the ancestry they revealed, as long as they didn't "mate," or only had children with certain ethnic groups. [Stat News]

You can read more about how white nationalists navigate the news they aren't all-white at Stat News. Peter Weber

7:27 a.m. ET

President Trump attacked two members of Congress before 7 a.m. on Thursday, potentially complicating his already contentious relationship with the Senate:

Trump also attacked his longtime enemy, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.):

Republicans hold just a sliver of the majority in the Senate, and their support will be necessary for Trump to pass a budget, infrastructure bill, tax reform, and eventually health care. Jeva Lange

6:28 a.m. ET

During the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, Vice News Tonight correspondent Elle Reeve embedded herself with the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other alt-right participants, and her documentary of the melee is pretty intense. On Wednesday night, CNN's Anderson Cooper had Reeve on to talk about her documentary and what she saw, in the light of President Trump's less-than-robust criticism of white supremacists on Tuesday. She said the most striking thing about the "Unite the Right" activities was how well-organized they were.

"Everyone who was there knew exactly what they were signing up for," Reeve said. So, Cooper asked, "when the president says that there were 'good people' at this march, that they were quietly there to protest a removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, that not all of them were neo-Nazis or white supremacists, what do you think? Is that true?" Reeve laughed. "No," she said. "Everyone who was there knew what they were doing. They were shouting 'Jews will not replace us!' It was very well coordinated, they had an order to the chants. Like, there was no mistaking, there was no innocent person wandering up and accidentally getting involved in this. ... They had a set time, they lined up, everyone got in line, they got their torches, we saw them snake all the way through the field. It was very clear that they had planned this."

Cooper asked how Trump's comments are being received by the white nationalists. "They love it," Reeve said. "The president continues to exceed the expectations of white nationalists. One texted me last night, 'My god I love this man. He really has our back.'" They see Trump's condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacists as "for the media, so the media will quiet down, but the real statement is he's okay with them, at least in their interpretation," she added. Reeve and Cooper also discussed the radicalized Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who protect the white nationalists, some of the shocking things the white supremacists told her in the video, their grievances, and how scary it was making the documentary. Watch below. Peter Weber

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