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April 25, 2015

After a 40th anniversary screening of the cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the five surviving members of the Monty Python comedy troupe — John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones — reunited live on stage on Friday for a special Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Q&A was moderated by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, a longtime Monty Python fan who quickly embraced the anarchic spirit of the evening. As he asked the panel about their career-long commitment to a "healthy disregard for authority," John Cleese wandered around the stage, grabbed Oliver's question sheet, and stuffed his microphone into his mouth, as the rest of the Monty Python members repeatedly switched seats in an impromptu game of musical chairs.

When the Monty Python members did settle down, they spoke engagingly (and often coarsely) on a wide variety of subjects, including the filming of Holy Grail, their 2014 series of live shows at London's 02 stadium, and the state of comedy in general. "I think we don't talk enough about this awful political correctness," complained Cleese. "I do a lot of… I don't know if they're really racist jokes, but jokes like, 'Why do the French have so many civil wars? Answer: Because they like to win one now and again."

"I used to do these jokes, and then I would say, 'There were these two Mexicans,' and the room would freeze. And I would say, 'Why's everybody gone quiet? We did jokes about Swedes, and Germans, and Canadians, and the French. What's the problem about the Mexicans? Are they not big enough to look after themselves?' I find a lot of that very condescending."

The group also recalled the 1989 funeral of deceased Monty Python member Graham Chapman, during which Cleese delivered a legendarily irreverent eulogy. "Graham's whole ceremony was like that, because we were laughing and then crying, and then laughing and crying. It was as though the emotion was sort of flowing through us, instead of getting blocked, like it usually does in England," said Cleese. "When I was writing it, I got that idea, and I thought, 'No, I can't do that.' And then I thought, 'That's exactly what Graham would like.' Because one thing Graham could not stand was what he called mindless good taste."

John Oliver brought the evening to a close by praising Monty Python one last time. "We've established there's nothing less funny than sincerity, but you're the f----ing greatest," he said, to an enthusiastic standing ovation. Scott Meslow

1:11 p.m.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) has a few personal problems with the Google "apparatus."

When Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, GOP congressmembers alleged the search engine has liberal bias and Democrats questioned its possible expansion into China. Cohen, though, used his time to make some digs at cable TV's unanimously hated customer service lines.

Cohen started his speaking time with a confession: "I use your apparatus often ... and I don't understand the different ways you can turn off the locations," he said, adding "there's so many different things." Perhaps Google could build an "online school" for users to ask questions, Cohen suggested. "And not like Comcast where you get put on hold for 30 minutes," he added.

Next up, Cohen launched an accusation that specifically countered his GOP colleagues'. While Republicans such as Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) have largely suggested Google's search algorithm has a liberal bias, Cohen said searching his own name largely brings up results from conservative sites such as The Daily Caller and Breitbart. "This weekend I was on MSNBC four times," Cohen declared, saying these results seemingly show Google is "overly using conservative news organizations" to populate its news feed. Watch that moment below. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:06 p.m.

A meeting between President Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Oval Office descended into chaos Tuesday as the three angrily argued over border wall funding — and reporters captured the whole thing.

After Trump and Pelosi made some general comments, things spiraled out of control when Pelosi told the president that "you should not have a Trump shutdown" over border security. This seemed to set Trump off, and the two argued over whether he has the votes to pass a spending bill. "The fact is you don't have the votes in the House," Pelosi said, with Trump shooting back, "Nancy, I do."

Schumer soon chimed in, telling Trump that The Washington Post gave him "a whole lot of Pinocchios" for his border wall claims, a comment Trump brushed off. "We want to do the same thing we did last year," Schumer said of border spending. But Trump continued to insist that this is not enough, and the trio somehow began to trade barbs over the 2018 midterm election results. "When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he's in trouble," Schumer said.

By the end of the debate, Pelosi was clearly upset that this all played out in front of reporters, telling Trump that she and Schumer "came in here in good faith" but that "unfortunately, this has spiraled downward." Trump did not have the same problem: "It's called transparency," he fired back. The whole argument, which started with Trump taking issue with Pelosi using the term "Trump shutdown," concluded with Trump saying he'll take full responsibility for a shutdown. "I am proud to shut down the government over border security," Trump said. Watch the unbelievable 16-minute exchange below, via CNN. Brendan Morrow

12:59 p.m.

We knew this day would come. But why did it have to happen so soon?

A Pew Research Center survey published Monday found that adults in the U.S. received more news from social media than newspapers in 2018. This is the first time news consumption via social media surpassed print newspapers since Pew started asking these questions.

While this is sad news for fans of print, social media and newspapers are still the least common means of discovering the news. Television continues to be the most popular medium for news consumption, with 49 percent of adults looking to their headlines, followed by websites with 33 percent, and radio with 26 percent.

As to be expected, this change is heavily spearheaded by youngsters. Those between 18 and 29 years old are about four times as likely to receive their news from social media than people 65 years and older. Who knows what trend they'll influence next.

The survey was conducted by speaking to 4,581 respondents on a panel between July 30-Aug. 12. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points. Read more at Pew Research Center. Amari Pollard

12:01 p.m.

After repeatedly claiming that there would not be enough time to bring the First Step Act — the bipartisan prison reform bill endorsed by President Trump — to a vote this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that his chamber would begin debating the measure as early as this week, reports The Hill.

"At the request of the president and following improvements to the legislation that has been secured by several members," McConnell said on the Senate floor, "the Senate will take up the recently revised criminal justice bill."

The legislation is designed to, among other reforms, make more prisoners eligible for early release and give judges greater latitude in the face of mandatory-minimum sentencing. Despite the president's backing — including a Friday tweet encouraging McConnell to "Go for it" — opponents, such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), have said that "most" senators "don't want to touch the bill with a 10-foot pole." Thanks to McConnell, that assertion will now be put to the test. Jacob Lambert

11:52 a.m.

NBC's Today is losing yet another host.

After more than a decade on the air, Kathie Lee Gifford is leaving the NBC morning show in April 2019. Gifford announced her departure in a tearful segment on Tuesday morning, saying she never intended to stay on the show for more than a year but did so because she loves everyone she works with so much. But she said this is "an exciting time for me" and that she's "thrilled about all the projects that are coming up."

In an internal NBC News memo, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim thanked Gifford for her "eleven extraordinary years," report CNN. Oppenheim also said that Gifford, who "has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects," has decided to turn her attention fully to these other endeavors and step away from her hosting duties.

After working for years alongside Regis Philbin, Gifford joined Hoda Kotb as co-host of Today's 10 a.m. hour in 2008. During a segment Tuesday, Gifford said she has no doubt she and Kotb will still be close friends just as she and Philbin remain.

This is another major change to NBC's morning show after Megyn Kelly, who hosted the hour before Gifford and Kotb, was fired over controversial remarks about blackface. She is still negotiating her exit from the network but is reportedly going to receive $30 million on her way out. Brendan Morrow

Brendan Morrow

11:46 a.m.

As he gears up for the 2020 election, President Trump is ready for a challenge from one of his own.

Trump's re-election team has discussed the possibility that he will face a Republican primary challenger in 2020, The Associated Press reports. In particular, the two potential candidates they're keeping an eye on are Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Both Kasich and Flake are leaving office soon and have discussed potential 2020 bids, with Kasich saying last month that he is looking at it "very seriously" because "we need different leadership," ABC News reports. Flake, meanwhile, has said that he hopes someone runs against Trump in the Republican presidential primaries, although he said in November that he doesn't necessarily see himself running, per CNBC. Both Kasich and Flake have made recent visits to New Hampshire, however, often a signal of forthcoming candidacy.

Trump's campaign plans to seek loyalty pledges from the GOP hoping to avoid a Republican challenge, per AP, and Politico reports that Trump's allies are trying to get the New Hampshire GOP to break from its usual tradition of remaining neutral in the state's primary. This would be so the Republican Party in the state can officially endorse Trump, and the president's team is also looking to get someone loyal to them as the state party's head. Interestingly, Kasich's team criticized this move, with strategist John Weaver saying it wouldn't impact the governor's decision on whether to run. Kasich came in second place to Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary and CNN reports he refused to vote for him in the presidential election, writing in John McCain's name instead. Brendan Morrow

11:27 a.m.

Americans are mostly happy with how President Trump is handling border security, but they still want him to hit pause on building a border wall.

As a government shutdown looms closer, 57 percent of Americans say Trump should "compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock," an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll released Tuesday found. Just 36 percent say Trump shouldn't compromise — it's likely Trump will listen to the minority.

Trump has said he'd only pass this year's spending bill if he gets $5 billion in border wall funding, but Democrats will so far only agree to $1.6 billion. Without a compromise or concession, the dispute would trigger a government shutdown starting Dec. 21.

Americans overwhelmingly want Trump to compromise to avoid the shutdown, with 71 percent of Democrats saying Trump should relent, per the poll. Still, 65 percent of Republicans think Trump should stand firm "even if it means a government shutdown," the poll shows. Trump has generally focused on catering to Republicans, suggesting he'll keep fighting for his $5 billion, NPR says.

The poll also shows 53 percent of Americans approve of Trump's "protection of the U.S. borders." Approval drops as Americans dig deeper into Trump's immigration policies, with only 36 percent approving of how Trump is handling "undocumented immigrants already in this country" and reuniting families separated at the border, the poll says.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist surveyed 1,075 adults via landline and cell phones from Nov. 28-Dec. 4 with a 3.7 percent margin of error. See more results at NPR. Kathryn Krawczyk

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