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January 12, 2017

BuzzFeed News has gotten a lot of pushback for publishing an unverified, at least partly wrong dossier put together by a former British MI6 spy suggesting Russia has compromising material on President-elect Donald Trump, who called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" on Wednesday for publishing the "fake news." NBC political director Chuck Todd didn't necessarily disagree with Trump, and told BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith so on MTP Daily Wednesday evening.

"You talk about context and you talk about putting responsibility on the readers, but at the same time, don't you have the responsibility of not spreading false information?" Todd asked. "I know this was not your intent — I've known you a long time — but you just published fake news." Smith disagreed. "I think people love to throw the phrase 'fake news' around to diminish anything they don't like," he said, "but this was a real story about a real document that was really being passed around between the very top officials of this country. And then the question you say is, okay — it's okay for you, Chuck Todd, to see this document, it's okay for me to see it, it's okay for John McCain, okay for the CIA — why is not okay for your audience?"

Smith said he made the decision to publish because everybody from news outlets to retired Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was alluding to these mysterious secret documents and "I think this is a place where sunlight is a disinfectant, where it is important to show your audience what you have." When Todd protested that what BuzzFeed did really hurts the credibility of the news media, Smith called such squeamishness a "luxury" from an earlier, pre-internet time. "There was an era when you would be the gatekeeper of information, and you would say to your audience, 'Trust us, we're keeping things from you, we have lots of secrets we're not telling you, you should trust us,'" he said. "I think you could say that was a good era, that was a bad era, that is not the present day." Todd was aggressively unconvinced. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:34 a.m. ET
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It may be true that, as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh joked in 2015, "what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep." But Yale University? Not so much.

Reporters have apparently spent about a week trying to contact Yale classmates of Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed his genitals to her freshman year, but Kavanaugh's Monday night interview on Fox News prompted some of them to call back. Kavanaugh told Fox News he "never" drank so much he didn't remember things and didn't have sexual intercourse until at least several years into college, among other things.

"He's trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy," Lynne Brooks, a Republican and former Ramirez roommate, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. She remembers several instances where Kavanaugh was extremely inebriated. "You can't lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he's gone too far," she said.

Liz Swisher, a Democrat and oncologist who also roomed with Ramirez, said "there's no medical way I can say that he was blacked out," but "it's not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess." How did she know? "Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him," she told the Post. "He'd end up slurring his words, stumbling." A freshman roommate of Kavanaugh's and almost a dozen other classmates remember the same thing. Some Yale friends said Kavanaugh drank heavily but not sloppily.

One classmate, Stephen Kantrowitz, tweeted: "Perhaps Brett Kavanaugh was a virgin for many years after high school. But he claimed otherwise in a conversation with me during our freshman year in Lawrance Hall at Yale." Kantrowitz, now a historian, told BuzzFeed News he remembered Kavanaugh's claim "because it was the first time I had had such a conversation with an acquaintance who was not a friend." Peter Weber

2:33 a.m. ET
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Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford have given the Senate Judiciary Committee sworn and signed statements from four people, including Ford's husband, affirming that she told them about her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as early as 2012, USA Today reported early Wednesday. "The declarations will be used by Ford's attorneys during a committee hearing on Thursday that could determine the fate of Kavanaugh's embattled nomination." Ford says that at a house party in 1982, Kavanaugh and a friend locked her in a room and Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to remove her clothes, and covered her mouth when she tried to yell for help. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Ford's husband, Russell Ford, says that he learned about his wife's experience "around the time we got married" but didn't know the details until 2012. "I remember her saying that her attacker's name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine's home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington, D.C., community," he attests. A friend, Adela Gildo-Mazzon, said Ford told her about the alleged assault over dinner in June 2013, Keith Koegler says Ford told him in 2016 during the Brock Turner assault scandal at Stanford and shared Kavanaugh's name in June, and neighbor Rebecca White said Ford described the assault to her in 2017.

For Thursday's hearing, Republicans have hired Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Ford about her allegations on behalf of the all-male Republican Senate Judiciary Committee membership. You can read more about Ford's sworn statements at USA Today. Peter Weber

1:13 a.m. ET

President Trump was so late to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, his speech was bumped back a slot. "Once he actually made it to the U.N., he jumped right into his favorite talking point, himself," a newly beardless Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. The audience of diplomats and world leaders found that topic unintentionally hilarious. "Don't worry, Mr. President, they're not laughing at you," Colbert said. "They're laughing with each other at you."

"After explaining to the countries of the world that America would leave them alone, he started picking on them," Colbert said, playing some examples. "He's working the room like an insult comic. 'Hey, check out Italy over here — hey, you're not fooling anybody with that big boot. Gambia, Gambia, we all know their national motto: Where the hell is Gambia?'" Trump wasn't mean to everyone, though, he noted: "I can't believe the only guy he praised was Kim Jong Un. Putin is gonna be jealous."

Colbert compared the American president's main message — "Trump appeared before the United Nations to reject the premise of nations uniting," he summarized — to a wedding toast, delivered in Trump voice: "Congratulations to Mike and Diane on their wedding. We believe the institution of marriage is a sham, we reject the ideology of monogamy. Diane, when Mike gets fat, call me.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

12:41 a.m. ET

On Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh did something unprecedented, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show: "He went on TV to reassure the nation that he's not a sexual predator." Kavanaugh repeated the phrase "dignity and respect" a conspicuous amount, Noah said, "like it's a vodka brand that pays him for product mentions. 'Whenever I'm at a prep school party, I always treat women with Dignity & Respect.'" He said Kavanaugh's yearbook also basically disproves his claim he's "always" treated women with dignity and respect, especially Renate Dolphin.

"I'm going to be honest: As a man, I haven't always treated women with dignity and respect, so I'm not trying to throw the first stone," Noah said. "What I'm saying, though, is Kavanaugh is trying way to hard to convince everyone that not only did he not assault anyone, he's always been a living saint. ... It seems like Kavanaugh is so desperate to get this gig, that he's willing to say anything — and I mean anything." Dulcé Sloan shared her thoughts on Kavanaugh's assertion he was a virgin well into college, and she went heavy on the virgin-shaming.

Late Night's Seth Meyers focused on the irrelevance of Kavanaugh's assertion: "First thing: It does not matter if you were a virgin. You are being accused of sexual assault, not sexual intercourse. Those things have nothing to do with each other. It's the same as saying, 'I couldn't have robbed that bank, I'm a virgin.'" Meyers also suggested that "if you're trying to distance yourself from sexual assault, maybe Fox News isn't the place to hang out. Usually when they interview someone accused of sexual assault, it's for a job."

The Late Show's Stephen Colbert just spliced himself into the Kavanaugh interview, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

September 25, 2018

On Tuesday, comedian Bill Cosby was transported to a Pennsylvania state prison in handcuffs after Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced him to three to 10 years in jail for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby, 81 and legally blind, will also be classified as a "sexually violent predator" on a sex-offender registry for the rest of his life. Constand and some of the other 60-plus women who accuse Cosby of sexual assault celebrated the sentence, but Cosby's publicist Andrew Wyatt declared Cosby innocent, criticized the trial, and tied Cosby to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is fighting his own sexual misconduct allegations.

"I believe and think it is important to point out that this has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States," Wyatt said. “What is going on in Washington today with Judge Kavanaugh is part of that sex war that Judge O’Neill along with his wife are a part of."

Kavanaugh and his allies may not be thrilled at Wyatt's attempt to shackle the federal appellate judge to a convicted sex offender, but Wyatt had another analogy, too: "They persecuted Jesus, and look what happened. I'm not saying Mr. Cosby's Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries. So Mr. Cosby's doing fine, he's holding up well. And everybody who wants to say anything negative, you're a joke as well." Peter Weber

September 25, 2018

Florence Wisniewski isn't going to let a hurricane sully her good name.

Wisniewski, 4, lives in Chicago, far from where Hurricane Florence caused so much devastation. Her mother, Tricia Wisniewski, told WLS-TV that she explained to her daughter what was going on in the Carolinas, and showed her video of the flooding and houses underwater. "She wanted to help," Tricia Wisniewski said. So Florence, who goes by Flo, helped her mother set up a donation bin on their porch.

They took a map of the hurricane's path and covered it with photos of Flo, and then shared the image on Facebook, asking for donations. Since then, the family has collected food, diapers, toiletries, and money for people affected by Hurricane Florence, which "speaks volumes of the neighborhood," Tricia Wisniewski said. Flo told WLS-TV it was important for her to give back because "it's right to do, to help people." Catherine Garcia

September 25, 2018
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor and registered Republican, will question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) confirmed Tuesday night.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. All 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are men, and they've decided to bring a woman in to ask Ford and Kavanaugh questions while they are under oath during Thursday's hearing.

The Washington Post was the first to report that Mitchell was the leading candidate. Mitchell is a 26-year veteran of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and is the sex crimes bureau chief.

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout. Catherine Garcia

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