Yesterday, Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl abruptly resigned from her position during her newscast, explaining that she no longer wanted to be employed by a network that "whitewashes the actions of [Vladimir] Putin." Her decision was in response to RT's adamantly pro-Russian coverage of the military invasion of Crimea that has angered other anchors on the Kremlin-funded network.
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Wahl explained that "the propagandist nature of RT came out in full force" during its coverage of Crimea. "I would hope as a reporter and in life, you should always seek the truth, spread the truth, disseminate the truth," she said. "And what's clear is what's happening right now amid this crisis is that RT is not about the truth. It's about promoting a Putinist agenda."
RT called Wahl's dramatic on-air resignation a "self-promotional stunt." Jordan Valinsky
Stephen Colbert shakes his head at Trump's fake-history tweets, self-destructive refusal to be tamed
Stephen Colbert started Thursday's Late Show on a serious note, recounting how at least 13 people were killed when a terrorist drove a van into a crowd of people in Barcelona. "This is a heartbreaking reminder that evil is real and that the United States is not alone in fighting it," he said. And Thursday afternoon, "President Trump said the right thing" — at least at first.
"I was sincerely happy to see that kind of moral leadership from our president — for about 45 minutes," Colbert said, using his Trump-tweet voice to read the president's follow-up tweet about Gen. John Pershing's fictitious pig's-blood executions. He played Trump's recounting of the fake but gruesome tale, suggested his bed-time stories must have been terrifying to the Trump kids, imagined some other made-up history lessons Trump might tell, then read a real Pershing quote that, for some reason, Trump doesn't bring up.
Historical accuracy isn't Trump's only problem, Colbert said. So is discipline. He's doubling down on his defense of white supremacists because, according to one adviser, Trump would rather have people call him racist that say he backed down. "Oh, then let me help: you're a racist," Colbert said, courteously. "Naturally, people are asking what happened to that new chief of staff that was going to keep him in line," he said, but "some people think it's already over for John Kelly."
Colbert was incredulous, noting that the current issue of TIME, dated Aug. 21, calls Kelly Trump's last hope. "Kelly's time ended before it began," he said with mock solemnity. "He's some sort of time traveler. Now he just needs to get back into his DeLorean and go back to a happier time for him, like when he was fighting in Iraq." To memorialize Kelly's brief (but ongoing in real life) tenure, The Late Show showed a pretty remarkable, tongue-in-cheek recap of "General Kelly: 17 Days of Discipline." Watch below. Peter Weber
Statue of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice behind Dred Scott, is being removed from Maryland State House grounds
Early Friday morning, crews began to work on removing a statue of Roger B. Taney, the former Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and ruled that any person with African descent could not be a citizen, from the grounds of the Maryland State House.
Any change to the building or grounds must be approved by the State House Trust, and the four-member panel voted to remove the statue on Wednesday, with three in favor and one, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D), not voting. He wrote in an email that Taney used "inflammatory and derogatory language" in the Dred Scott case, but said Taney "served with distinction" when he was a Maryland state attorney general and U.S. attorney general and did remain loyal to the Union, The Baltimore Sun reports. Miller also said there is "balance" because on the opposite side of the state house grounds stands a statue of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
The plan is to remove the statue from the base, cover the base in plywood, then store the statue for the Maryland State Archives, The Baltimore Sun reports. The statue was installed in 1872, and while there was increased pressure to remove it following the events in Charlottesville over the weekend, the statue has been controversial for several years. Catherine Garcia
Tina Fey has a simple plan for countering the coming 'alt-right' rallies. It's more gluttony that glory.
Former Saturday Night Live head writer, "Weekend Update" anchor, and University of Virginia alumna Tina Fey has some thoughts about last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, President Trump's response to it, and what to do next. After Trump blamed "many sides" for the violence and death of a counterprotester at a white supremacist march, "I'm feeling sick, because, you know, I've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I wasn't confused by it," Fey told current "Weekend Update" anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che on Thursday night. "No, Colin, Nazis are always bad, I don't care what you say."
But this isn't over, she said, as Jost protested, because there are nine more alt-right rallies planned for Saturday, including one in New York City's Washington Square Park. "And part of me hopes these neo-Nazis do try it in New York City — like, I hope they try it and get the ham salad kicked out of them by a bunch of drag queens," Fey said. "But at the same time, I don't want any more good people to get hurt." So instead of going to protest the neo-Nazis and fight and shout this out, she said, non-Nazi sympathizers should support a local business — specifically a bakery that sells American flag cakes. "Sheetcaking is a grassroots movement, Colin," Fey said. "Most of the women I know have been doing it once a week since the election."
"Sheetcaking" isn't staying silent, exactly — you just yell what you want to say to the white supremacists (and Ann Coulter) into the cake while you are shoving forkfuls of cake into your mouth. Fey demonstrated how that's done, including the speaking-your- mind part. "In conclusion, I really want to say, to encourage all good, sane Americans to treat these rallies this weekend like the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads: don't show up," she said. "Let these morons scream into the empty air." You may not feel much better about the state of the country after watching this, but you might feel a little peckish. Peter Weber
Adm. William F. Moran, vice chief of naval operations, told reporters Thursday that about a dozen sailors who were aboard the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship June 17 off the coast of Japan, killing seven crew members, will face disciplinary action, including the top two officers and top enlisted sailor.
Moran said most of the punishments will be delivered Friday, and the ship's captain at the time, Cmdr. Bryce Benson; his second-in-command, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt; and senior enlisted sailor for the ship, Command Master Chief Brice A. Baldwin, will be permanently removed as leaders of the ship. He also said the sailors who were on watch in the Fitzgerald's bridge "at some point…lost situational awareness," and are among those facing discipline. The investigation into whether the Fitzgerald crew is solely responsible for the crash is ongoing.
Moran said investigators are still trying to determine exactly what took place right before the collision, when the container ship ripped a huge hole into the smaller Fitzgerald early in the morning. Most of the sailors were asleep when the accident occurred, and a majority of those who died were sleeping closest to where the water came rushing in, The Washington Post reports. Survivors said they had to try to escape as items like mattresses and lockers floated by in the water, and several sailors, trying to keep the ship from sinking, were forced to seal a door with other sailors still inside. Catherine Garcia
Police in Spain say they stopped a major terrorist attack in the coastal city of Cambrils early Friday morning when they killed five suspects who were wearing explosive belts.
The van the suspects were in did drive into a group, police said, wounding seven people, but the vehicle flipped over and when several men jumped out, police fired on them. Their explosive belts were later safely detonated by authorities. This came hours after a van drove into a crowd in Barcelona's Las Ramblas district, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100; the van's driver escaped and is on the run.
Authorities are linking Cambrils and Barcelona to an explosion at a house in Alcanar on Wednesday, which killed one person; police said it appears that people inside the house were "preparing an explosive device," the BBC reports. Catherine Garcia
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who grew up around 'broken' and defeated Nazis, has some blunt advice for the alt-right (and Trump)
Once-and-future action hero and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) may not be the best person to convince President Trump about the merits of unequivocally condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists, given their history and especially when he uses a Trump bobble-head, but he gave it a try anyway on Thursday night. "The only way to beat the loud and angry voices of hate is to meet them with louder and more reasonable voices," he said in a video for ATTN, and that includes Trump, who, "as president of this great country," has "a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal that you won't stand for hate and racism." In case Trump was unsure what such a statement would sound like, Schwarzenegger offered him a Republican-specific template.
— ATTN: (@attn) August 17, 2017
More interesting was his "blunt" message to "the neo-Nazis and to the white supremacists and to the neo-Confederates," which began: "Your heroes are losers. You are supporting a lost cause. Believe me, I knew the original Nazis." He explained that he was born in Austria in 1947, right after World War II, and growing up he "was surrounded by broken men, men who came home from the war filled with shrapnel and guilt, men who were misled into a losing ideology. And I can tell you that these ghosts that you idolize spent the rest of their lives living in shame. And right now, they're resting in hell." He said it isn't too late to change course, and he wasn't buying Trump's "fine people" excuse for the Charlottesville marchers.
"If you say 'Arnold, hey, I was just at the march, don't call me a Nazi, I have nothing to do with Nazis at all,'" Schwarzenegger said, "let me help you: Don't hang around people who carry Nazi flags, give Nazi salutes, or shout Nazi slogans. Go home. Or better yet, tell them they are wrong to celebrate an ideology that murdered millions of people. And then go home." Schwarzenegger also had some advice for people who are not Nazis or Nazi sympathizers and think it's best to stay quiet or keep their heads down, and he only used one of his famous movie catchphrases. Peter Weber
He made a name for himself supporting candidate, then nominee, and finally President Donald Trump in articles, television, and radio appearances, and also on his pro-Trump blog and quarterly journal. Now, Julius Krein is writing off Trump's "disgraceful administration," and urging "anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president."
In a New York Times op-ed titled "I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It," Krein said he was attracted to Trump during the campaign due to his "willingness to move past partisan stalemates" and because he "forthrightly addressed the foreign policy failures of both parties, such as the debacles in Iraq and Libya." Krein admitted he was aware that Trump's statements on immigration were "often needlessly inflammatory" and his "policy positions were poorly defined," but said he gave Trump "the benefit of the doubt."
Seven months into his presidency, and following Trump's remarks on Charlottesville, Krein said it's now clear his "optimism was unfounded" and Trump's "increasingly appalling conduct will continue to repel anyone who might once have been inclined to work with him." By the day, Trump's behavior is growing "only more reprehensible," and his administration has "no significant accomplishments," Krein added. While he pins some of the blame for Trump's disastrous presidency on the media and the Republican Party, "the administration has committed too many unforced errors and deserves most of the blame for its failures." Read Krein's entire op-ed at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia