Fox News host Sean Hannity has claimed with no evidence whatsoever that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., that he is in cahoots with the entire "liberal media," and that under his watch, a Democratic National Committee staffer was killed because he supposedly gave emails to WikiLeaks. Never one to miss something that definitely isn't there, Hannity's latest conspiracy involves "secret sperm cells" in Obama's official portrait. Yes, really.
The Smithsonian's portrait of President Obama pic.twitter.com/buvVAEomrj
— Axios (@axios) February 12, 2018
Artist Kehinde Wiley's bold portrait of Barack Obama has been well received, with The Boston Globe calling the painting and its pair, Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama, "socio-cultural documents to surviving with grace and elegance." Obama praised Wiley's work at the unveiling Monday, saying: "What I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege."
Hannity sees, well, something else. "Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley's wildly non-traditional portrait of the commander-in-chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling," Hannity's website alleges, "with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique — concealing images of sperm within his paintings."
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 13, 2018
Maybe not so much. Hannity got one thing right, anyway: It is nontraditional. Wiley's portrait of Obama "dismantles so much and creates new visions of masculinity that black men rarely have the public permission to explore," argues Teach for America's Brittany Packnett. Jeva Lange
Update 5:14 p.m. ET: Hannity later deleted the post from his site. In a statement, he said: "Earlier today my web staff posted content that was not reviewed by me before publication. It does not reflect my voice and message and, therefore, I had it taken down."
Texas Democrats pick Lupe Valdez for governor race, Lizzie Fletcher over Laura Moser for key House contest
Texas Democrats narrowly chose former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez over Andrew White in Tuesday's gubernatorial primary runoff election, and in the state's highest-profile contest, attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher trounced liberal activist Laura Moser in the Democratic runoff in the Houston-area 7th congressional district. Fletcher, a former Planned Parenthood board member backed by the Democratic Party, will take on Rep. John Culberson (R) for a House seat Democrats hope to flip in November.
Valdez, the first openly gay gubernatorial nominee in Texas and the first Latina nominee, faces Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has high approval ratings and a $41 million war chest. Only 430,000 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial runoff, compared with the 1 million who voted in the March Democratic primary, The Texas Tribune sighs, making it both "the largest primary-to-runoff decline — and the smallest number of ballots cast — in the 14 Democratic gubernatorial primary runoffs held since 1920."
In other notable races, Democratic former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones beat former high school teacher Rick Treviño and will take on Rep. Will Hurd (R) in the fall. And in the race to replace Rep. Lamar Smith (R), Republican Chip Roy, a former chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), will face Democrat Joseph Kopser, a tech entrepreneur. Peter Weber
U.S. soccer legend Brandi Chastain tried to be diplomatic after her Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame plaque was unveiled on Monday, revealing what was supposed to be her likeness but looked more like a Biff Tannen and Babe Ruth hybrid dressed up like Mrs. Doubtfire.
"I didn't feel it was a perfect representation," she told KTVU on Tuesday. "But I'm not an artist. I don't know how hard it is to make one of these things." Her husband, Jerry Smith, was more blunt, saying, "It's really not flattering," while the San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion described it as a "freaking embarrassment." Born and raised in San Jose, Chastain is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion, remembered for the iconic image of her ripping off her jersey after scoring in the 1999 World Cup final against China.
Chastain told Killion on Tuesday that the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame — which never shared the name of the artist behind the bronze plaque, likely to help them avoid a public shaming — asked her to send in a photo of her own choosing so the plaque could be remade. "Bottom line, the good that BASHOF does for the kids in the community is important and necessary," she said. "I'm proud to be in the class of such talented individuals who have elevated our sports teams to the highest heights." Catherine Garcia
They were already a tight-knit group, and now seven firefighters with the Glenpool Fire Department in Oklahoma have something else to bond over — over the last year, they've all become fathers.
On Sunday, they decided to take a big fire family photo, and while it took a lot of effort to wrangle all the babies, their parents were happy with the results — in one photo, the babies — five girls and two boys — sat on their dads' jackets, and in another, they rested in their arms. "We're a really close group so we were glad we took the time to capture the babies with their daddies," mom Melanie Todd told CBS News. "Now we just look forward to seeing them all grow up together."
Firefighter Mick Whitney said his colleagues and their spouses are all friends, and it feels fitting to go through parenthood together. "It's a little different in our group," he said. "We go out fishing, hanging out. It's a unique dynamic." Catherine Garcia
Philip Roth, one of the most prolific and celebrated writers of his generation, died Tuesday. He was 85, and a close friend, Judith Thurman, said the cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Between his first collection of stories, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), and his final novel, 2010's Nemesis, Roth won two National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, and three PEN/Faulkner Awards, among other honors. He is best known for his 1969 novel Portnoy's Complaint, and his literary explorations of life as an American, a Jew, and a man, and sex and lust. Many of his protagonists were thinly veiled versions of himself — Nathan Zuckerman, Alexander Portnoy, David Kepesh — and his work played with and blurred the lines between truth and fiction. "Making fake biography, false history, concocting a half-imaginary existence out of the actual drama of my life is my life," Roth told Hermione Lee in a 1984 interview in The Paris Review. "There has to be some pleasure in this life, and that's it."
Roth was born and raised in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, the setting for many of his novels. He was the younger of two sons of Herman Roth, a manager at Metropolitan Life, and Bess Roth née Finkel. He was married twice, the second marriage ending in 1994. Roth retired from writing in 2010 but didn't tell anyone for two years.
"In just a matter of months I'll depart old age to enter deep old age — easing ever deeper daily into the redoubtable Valley of the Shadow," Roth told The New York Times in January. "Right now it is astonishing to find myself still here at the end of each day. ... It's something like playing a game, day in and day out, a high-stakes game that for now, even against the odds, I just keep winning. We will see how long my luck holds out." Peter Weber
Korryn Bachner couldn't go to the prom, so the prom came to her.
The 15-year-old from Illinois was burned in April in a backyard fire pit explosion, which injured several teenagers. Bachner's face and hands were badly burned, and while she was able to leave the hospital to recover at home, she wasn't going to be able to attend prom with her friends.
To surprise her, Bachner's prom date came over to her house and decorated the basement, and all of their friends came together for a mini-prom. "There were tears," her dad, Bob Bachner, told WLS-TV. Doctors say it will take several months, but they expect a full recovery. "Having all my friends support, it helps a lot," Bachner said. "It takes my mind off things." Catherine Garcia
President Trump spoke at the Susan B. Anthony List's annual "Campaign for Life Gala" Tuesday night, and he urged the anti-abortion advocates gathered before him to vote for Republicans in the fall. "Every day between now and November we must work together to elect more lawmakers who share our values, cherish our heritage, and proudly stand for life,” Trump said. But he broke from his script after the teleprompter told him to say that the 2018 midterms were as important as the 2016 presidential election. "I'm not sure I really believe that," he said. "I don't know who the hell wrote that line." The audience laughed.
Trump just stepped all over GOP midterm messaging.
“Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016 — although I’m not sure I really believe that,” Trump ad libs. “I don’t know who the hell wrote that line.” pic.twitter.com/tk6G7CfD4H
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) May 23, 2018
As Trump's speechwriters and political advisers might say: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Peter Weber
More than 200 professors at the University of Southern California have called on President C.L. Max Nikias to step down, writing in a letter that he has "lost the moral authority to lead" after it was reported that the campus gynecologist was able to see patients for years, despite complaints.
The professors sent a letter to the USC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, saying Nikias failed to "protect our students, our staff, and our colleagues from repeated and pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct." The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Dr. George Tyndall, the only gynecologist on campus for several decades, was accused of inappropriate behavior, but he wasn't removed from the student health center until 2016, when a nurse complained to a rape crisis center.
An internal university investigation found that Tyndall's pelvic exams were outside the scope of current medical practice and considered sexual harassment. Tyndall, who denies any wrongdoing, was able to resign and receive a payout, and USC did not report him to the state medical board. USC Provost Michael Quick wrote in a letter on Monday that senior leadership on campus did not learn about the complaints until last year, and "this claim of a coverup is patently false."
An hour after the Board of Trustees received the letter, Chairman John Mork released a statement announcing that the trustees found the report on Tyndall "troubling" but they still "strongly support" Nikias. Nikias has said he understands "the faculty's anger and disappointment," and the university will rewrite its Code of Ethics. Catherine Garcia