Oil prices nosedived on Friday, sending U.S. stocks tumbling. The Dow Jones industrial average briefly dropped more than 500 points before a slight recovery Friday afternoon, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 2.7 percent to its lowest level since October 2014.
While oil prices had rallied on Thursday, traders bracing for the resumption of Iranian oil shipments drove crude oil prices to $29.28 a barrel — a 12-year low.
Megyn Kelly reportedly wants $20 million a year to stay at Fox News; Rupert Murdoch says she's replaceable
Megyn Kelly is a rapidly rising star at Fox News, her contract expires next year, and she has hired a new agent and publicly team to help her negotiate a hefty raise. Kelly is set to earn $15 million this year, The Wall Street Journal reports, and is seeking more than $20 million a year for her next contract, about the same as fellow Fox News star Bill O'Reilly makes (though O'Reilly's contract is up for renewal next year, too). Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch tells The Journal, which he owns, that he is monitoring Kelly's contract talks "every minute of the day" and hopes to sign a new contract "very soon," but if Fox News and Kelly can't reach agreement, "we have a deep bench of talent, many of whom would give their right arm for her spot."
CNN and ABC are reportedly very interested in poaching Kelly, with ABC reportedly considering her for Good Morning America or an evening news magazine. Kelly, a lawyer by training, has gained notoriety through tough on-air exchanges with Donald Trump and, on Tuesday, Trump advocate Newt Gingrich. There has been speculation that with former Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes' ouster, the conservative cable news network might take a more centrist turn, and Kelly would be a key part of that strategy. Murdoch shot that idea down, telling The Journal "we're going to want Bill [O'Reilly] to stay with us," and "we're not changing direction... that would be business suicide." Peter Weber
On Wednesday, WikiLeaks released a 2011 memo written by longtime Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band and hacked from the emails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and at the time a top adviser to the Clinton Foundation. In the 12-page memo, Band defended "the unorthodox nature" of his multiple roles raising money for the Clinton Foundation, procuring paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton, and getting clients for his own nascent consulting firm, Teneo — a network of activity Band called "Bill Clinton Inc."
Band wrote the memo to a law firm Chelsea Clinton had hired to audit the foundation, part of her push to clean up and professionalize the family charity after she took a more leading role. In other emails released by WikiLeaks, Chelsea had complained to Podesta that Band and his Teneo staff were using Bill Clinton's name without permission to benefit Teneo, and appeared to be "hustling business" at Clinton Foundation events. Band, in the Podesta emails, calls Chelsea "a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she's doing because she, as she has said, hasn't found her way and has a lack of focus in her life"; "has gone to daddy to change a decision or interject herself"; and through a complimentary email had given him "a kiss on the cheek while she is sticking the knife in the back, and front."
In the memo, Band listed how much each of Teneo's 20 clients had donated to the Clinton Foundation ($8 million) or paid Bill Clinton in speaking fees ($3 million), and in an email said that Bill Clinton "is personally paid" by some Clinton Foundation donors and "gets many expensive gifts from them." The fallout with Chelsea led to Band's departure from the Clinton orbit starting in 2012. Hillary Clinton is not mentioned in the memo, though other emails show her aides trying to figure out how to inoculate Hillary from any foundation activity that could harm her political future. Peter Weber
America has a $19 trillion national debt, but "finally, someone's taking action to reduce the debt," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show, and he didn't mean that in a good way. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "cost an estimated $4.8 trillion," comprising a good bit of that debt, he said, kicking off his "Werd" segment on the Pentagon's move to claw back millions in re-enlistment bonuses wrongly paid to California National Guard troops who then served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After literally "losing" $9 billion in cash in one day in Iraq, the Pentagon is now demanding $100 million from these troops, and to add insult to injury, they're tacking on a 1 percent processing fee, Colbert said. "Congratulations, military, you've somehow made me feel good about my credit card company." Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that the collections would be suspended, but he added that the Pentagon will "respect our important obligation to the taxpayer," and Colbert wasn't impressed. "Oh good, because what really upset taxpayers about Iraq was the part where we paid our soldiers what we promised," he said. "No WMDs? That's an honest mistake. A private doesn't fill out his paperwork? We will chase you to the gates of hell!"
Carter can't actually do much about this, Colbert said, because only Congress can change the relevant law. But Congress has known about this for two years and done nothing. "Come on, Congress, two years?" he said, winding up. "It should be easy to forget the troops' debt, because we have apparently forgotten the debt we owe them." Watch the Werd below. Peter Weber
Michael Precker won't judge you if you frequent "gentlemen's clubs" — "the S-word sounds too harsh," he wrote in The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. Strip clubs, he said, are an "antidote" to and "comforting refuge in a politically correct world." Precker once did public relations for a Dallas strip club, and he still sees the appeal: "No matter how insensitive, boorish, or physically repulsive you may be, an attractive woman will smile at you, laugh at your jokes, bolster your ego."
But the behavior Donald Trump described on the Access Hollywood bus, and is accused of actually doing by at least 11 women, is "assault," plain and simple, Precker said. "As loyalists of the S-word scene will tell you, such ungentlemanly behavior might get you tossed into the alley." Trump has never made a secret that "his strip club attitude and his strip club actions had no boundaries," and "sadly, he's exactly right when he says that rich and famous people can say and do whatever they want to women, anytime, anywhere, and usually get away with it," Precker writes, but there's an opportunity here:
This hardly started with Trump, of course. Take your pick of rock stars and athletes, spoiled rich kids and old tycoons, politicians and people wielding power of any kind. Trump apologists will keep invoking Bill Clinton until they're hoarse (why don't they add John Kennedy more often?), and it's hard to argue the point. But no matter how many men have shared this philosophy, Trump is their poster boy. He's the one caught on tape. Will he take the fall for them all? That, to invoke a couple of his favorite adjectives, would be huge. And beautiful. Because repudiating Trump and Trump's behavior would go a long way to send this message: Do whatever you like inside the club, as long as all the parties involved are agreeable. But once you go through the doors and you're back outside, it's a whole different world. [The Dallas Morning News]
Wednesday was Hillary Clinton's 69th birthday, and she appeared to enjoy herself. Jimmy Kimmel found her tweeting out a birthday wish to "this future president" a little strange and perhaps inappropriate, he said on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, "but since it is Hillary's birthday, we wanted to do something fun to commemorate it, so this afternoon we went out on the street, we asked people who said they are Donald Trump supporters to say something nice to Hillary Clinton on her special day." Watch below to see how that went. Peter Weber
With two weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump's main task is to "appeal to voters beyond his base," Seth Meyers said on Wednesday's Late Night, and on Monday, he got "a golden opportunity" when the Obama administration announced that ObamaCare premiums will rise by double digits next year. "You'd think some bad ObamaCare news might help him," Meyers said, "but the Trump campaign never misses the opportunity to miss an opportunity."
Meyers got to ObamaCare, after a detour of the day's juiciest political news, including the "Blacks for Trump" sign malfunction and Newt Gingrich telling Megyn Kelly she's "fascinated by sex." "Fascinated by sex?" Meyers said. "Even if she was a sex addict, I'm pretty sure Newt Gingrich is the cure."
The ObamaCare premium hikes are "bad news on the surface, but it's still in line with the projections made by the Congressional Budget Office," he noted. "Obviously, ObamaCare is a nuanced, complicated issue that requires sober analysis and discussion," added Meyers, who routinely distills nuanced, complicated issues down to 10-minute comedy-news segments. But Trump, of course, just said that ObamaCare is "killing us." "ObamaCare is killing us, China is killing us, political correctness is killing us," Meyer said. "God forbid President Trump ever has to deal with a slight dip in GDP — he'd probably tweet: 'It's a depression!!! Every man for himself!!! Eat your neighbors!!!'"
"The context is important here," Meyers said, returning to ObamaCare, noting that the premium increases will affect only the small percentage of people who get insurance from the individual market, and even then, the "vast majority" of them will get higher subsidies, leaving most ObamaCare users with options for plans less than $75 a month. But instead of trying to make political hay of the issue, Trump was out promoting his hotels and golf courses on Monday and Tuesday. Meyers had a theory about that, too: "As for ObamaCare, it's a huge improvement, but it also is imperfect. It has problems, and we need serious ideas for how to make it better, but the reason Republicans haven't proposed any real plans to fix or replace ObamaCare is because they don't have any. And the guy they nominated for president doesn't even seem to know what it is." Peter Weber
Bats are some of the planet's most misunderstood mammals, and new live cams aim to shed light on these important creatures.
Just in time for Halloween, Explore.org — the same people who brought us this summer's smash Bear Cam — are back with bats. They've teamed up with Michigan's Organization for Bat Conservation, which rehabilitates bats and educates the public on the importance of the animals. The Bat Cams will focus on the 40 bats living in the conservation's sanctuary, covering five different species, including vampire bats, fruit bats, and two Malayan Flying Foxes named Fred and Tom, who both have a six-foot wingspan. Explore.org's founder, Charles Annenberg Weingarten, said in a statement the cameras will "provide an intimate look at their lives," while using infrared technology to protect their nocturnal habitat.
Rob Mies, founder of The Organization for Bat Conservation, said in a statement that the Bat Cam comes at the perfect time because it will help the public connect with "amazing animals that are often vilified, and really they deserve our respect and appreciation. In recent years, millions of bats have been dying due to White-nose Syndrome, so now is a crucial time to get people involved." Get to know these fascinating animals in the streaming video below, or head over to Explore.org, which will also feature live chats with scientists and experts. Catherine Garcia