March 20, 2019

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is finally speaking out about the feud between President Trump and her husband — and it sounds like she's on Trump's side.

Conway spoke with Politico on Wednesday after Trump went after her husband, George Conway, on Twitter for the second day in a row, calling him a "stone cold loser." The president's tweets came after Conway, who has long been an outspoken critic of the president, spent days suggesting that Trump has a personality disorder and that Americans should be concerned about his "mental condition and psychological state."

Kellyanne Conway told Politico that Trump is a "counterpuncher" and that he "left it alone for months out of respect for me." She asked, "you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?" Conway said Trump is "obviously defending me" and offered some criticism of her husband by saying that he shouldn't "play psychiatrist."

Conway didn't answer a question about whether she wants Trump to stop tweeting about her husband, but did assert that this drama has not affected her job. "Hasn't everybody tried to push me out already and here I am, stronger than ever," she said.

Around the same time this Politico interview was published, Trump went after George Conway once again, telling reporters per The Hill's Jordan Fabian that he's a "whack job" who is "doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife." Brendan Morrow

2:07 p.m.

House Hunters' longtime host Suzanne Whang died Tuesday, 13 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, her longtime partner Jeff Vezain announced in a Friday Facebook post. She was 56.

Whang led the original iteration of the HGTV show from 1999 to 2007, starting out by appearing onscreen but eventually transitioning to fully narrating the show from offscreen. She also had recurring roles in a number of sitcoms and TV dramas, and often used what Vezain called her "audacious sense of humor" for standup comedy.

Whang was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and was given just six months to live. But she beat the disease and used it for comedic fodder, and lived cancer-free until about a year ago. Find Vezain's whole tribute to Whang below. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:08 p.m.

Game of Thrones and Veep are poised to win big at the 2019 Emmys. But as with any awards show, it's always wise to expect the unexpected.

Ahead of Sunday's broadcast, let's check in on the likeliest winners in the top categories, as well as the dark horses to keep an eye on.

1. Bill Hader (or Michael Douglas) - Barry's Hader will probably win the comedy series lead actor award again, but don't count out Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), who defeated Hader in the equivalent category at the 2019 Golden Globes.

2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (or Phoebe Waller-Bridge) - The Veep star's victory is the night's biggest lock; Louis-Dreyfus has never lost lead comedy actress for playing Selina Meyer. Some experts have wondered about a potential upset by Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but certainly don't place a bet on that.

3. Veep (or Fleabag) - Veep is similarly favored to maintain its comedy series winning streak. But the critically-acclaimed Fleabag could potentially take it down after winning a Creative Arts Emmys bellwether, while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won last year but has yet to face off against Veep at the Emmys, has the potential to surprise as well.

4. Billy Porter (or Jason Bateman) - Pose's Porter would make history by becoming the first openly gay black man to win the best drama lead actor award, but after collecting a Screen Actors Guild Award win for Ozark, could it be Bateman's night?

5. Sandra Oh (or Jodie Comer) - Although Oh is favored to take the lead drama actress award, some experts see it as a battle between Oh and her Killing Eve co-star, Jodie Comer.

6. Game of Thrones (or Succession) - Thrones is widely expected to maintain its drama series winning streak, but could the Roy family sneak in? Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson, noting the controversial nature of Thrones' final season, identifies Succession as the "potential disrupter waiting in the wings." Either way, HBO wins. Brendan Morrow

11:45 a.m.

President Trump claimed Friday it "doesn't matter" what he discussed with Ukraine amid the ongoing scandal over a whistleblower's "urgent" concern.

Trump spoke in the Oval Office following days of reporting about a whistleblower's complaint filed in August reportedly about a troubling "promise" Trump made on a call with a foreign leader. The Washington Post reported Thursday it has to do with Ukraine, and weeks before the complaint, Trump spoke over the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But questioned Thursday about conversations with Ukraine, and about whether he spoke about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Trump deflected.

"It doesn't matter what I discussed," Trump said. "But I will say this: somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement, because it was disgraceful."

Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, admitted in a CNN interview Thursday he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden over an allegation he bribed the country's former president to fire a prosecutor investigating his son. The president Friday seemed to be referring to Biden's statement recalling telling Ukraine "you're not getting" a billion-dollar loan guarantee if the prosecutor wasn't fired, although PolitiFact writes this was also "the position of the wider U.S. government, as well as other international institutions" and "we found no evidence to support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son's interests in mind."

The president Friday attacked the whistleblower as "partisan" even though he admitted he has no idea who it is. "I just hear it's a partisan person," he said. He also claimed his conversation was "beautiful" despite subsequently admitting "I really don't know" what conversation the complaint concerns. Brendan Morrow

10:54 a.m.

Disastrous weather is a problem, but disastrous climate change that contributes to it apparently isn't.

That seemed to be the take of Fox & Friends hosts Friday morning as they covered massive climate change protests happening around the world. Except perhaps a better description is "took a few cheap shots before ironically changing their focus to devastating effects of a tropical storm hitting the coast of Texas."

The hosts opened their segment by factually declaring that New York City students may be skipping class today because it's "global climate strike day." "Right, because the best thing you can do for climate problems is not go to work or school and scream on the grass and make a sign" host Brian Kilmeade said. They then showed aerial shots of the absolutely massive strikes across the world and played snippets of 2020 Democrats' appearances at MSNBC's Thursday evening climate forum, after which Kilmeade decried Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for "yelling at you."

Next up? Coverage of Tropical Storm Imelda, which caused flooding in Houston and throughout southeast Texas, and is just one of many storms growing in frequency and intensity as human-caused climate change worsens. Watch the irony unfold below. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:56 a.m.

Alienstock ended up facing approximately the same fate as Woodstock.

After gaining millions of RSVPs on Facebook, a joking promise to "storm Area 51" on Friday morning succumbed to its first defeat when event organizers renamed it "Alienstock" and rescheduled it for next year. Yet some brave truth-seekers still set out to the Nevada desert Thursday evening — and found a knockoff Coachella, The Washington Post reports.

In the hours before the proposed 3 a.m. raid of Area 51 to "see them aliens," Daniel Martinez, a 31-year-old Pokémon card dealer dressed in a wolf "spirit hood," was already dancing through a sound check, the Post writes. But Martinez wasn't there to storm the military base. He came for the "big open space" and the moment when the music "infects everybody with positivity," he told the Post. He was among about 1,500 people who had come to two desert towns nearest the base and set up a makeshift stage for a weekend festival, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said.

Of them, only about 150 people drove to the Area 51 military base itself by Thursday night, Lee said. They snapped selfies with the gate and generally seemed to respect strict Air Force warnings to stay out. The only infraction came last week from two Dutch YouTubers, who made it about 3 miles beyond the fence in the nearby Nevada National Security Site before they were arrested, CNN reports.

Find more disturbing glimpses of Alienstock at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:42 a.m.

The hosts of Fox & Friends sure do hate speculation over that intelligence community whistleblower — unless it's their speculation, that is.

Amid the ongoing scandal surrounding a whistleblower complaint reportedly about President Trump communicating with a foreign leader and making a troubling "promise," the hosts of Fox & Friends went to bat for the president Friday, voicing outrage over leaks and slamming the rest of the media for its speculation.

At one point, a whole montage of other news networks' coverage that was "all speculation" was played, and Brian Kilmeade summed it up as the "same exasperating, zero-to-ten type of emotional reaction" that took place during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, reports Media Matters for America's Bobby Lewis.

Yet the hosts weren't above some speculation of their own, with Kilmeade at one point tossing out a theory that the anonymous New York Times op-ed writer, who last year alleged they were part of a "resistance" within the Trump administration, is involved. Ainsley Earhardt, meanwhile, wondered if someone working at the White House is responsible for leaks.

Immediately before the anti-speculation montage played, Kilmeade also speculated this whole thing was simply "the president having a discussion," Mediaite reports.

Still, the hosts seemed to suggest that even if some of the speculation and reporting about the whistleblower is true, it would be just fine, with Earhardt claiming Trump "making promises, leaking maybe some delicate information to another head of state" is just "what they do" and "the art of the deal." Brendan Morrow

8:03 a.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is finally calling it quits.

The 2020 Democrat announced Friday he's ending his campaign for president, saying in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, "It's clearly not my time."

De Blasio entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race in May but didn't qualify for the third Democratic debate in September due to his low polling; he was unable to reach two percent support in four qualifying polls and 130,000 individual donors. His polling hadn't much improved since then, and he was generally earning either zero or one percent support.

De Blasio cited this as his reason for not remaining in the race, saying he was not "going to be able to meet" the "high bar" required to get back into the debates. He declined to endorse another candidate but said he will support the eventual Democratic nominee.

Now, de Blasio can focus full time on New York City, where a recent poll found his presidential bid earned zero percent support. Brendan Morrow

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