June 28, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday defended his record on civil rights issues after facing heavy criticism from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during Thursday's Democratic debate.

In the debate, Harris called out Biden for having opposed busing, to which Biden defended himself by saying that he only opposed "busing ordered by the Department of Education."

During a speech at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition on Friday, Biden said, "I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris, but we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights."

Biden went on to say that he "never, never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing," saying he has "always been in favor of using federal authority to overcome state initiated segregation." He also said that he has "fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights, are enforced everywhere" and that "these rights are not up to the states to decide" but are the "federal government's duty to decide."

Biden in a 1975 interview said that "I oppose busing," which he called "an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me," The Washington Post reports, with his campaign spokesperson telling the Post in March that Biden "never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware."

The former vice president has continued to face criticism for his past stance on busing following the debate, with Jesse Jackson saying on Friday that Biden was on "the wrong side of history" and that Harris was "on point." Brendan Morrow

4:36 p.m.

Al Pacino is widely regarded as one of America's great living actors, but in recent years, that hasn't stopped him from appearing in movies like Gigli, Righteous Kill, and Jack and Jill, which offered audiences two Adam Sandler performances for the price of one.

Why does Pacino sign up for such dreck? In a recent interview with GQ, Pacino admitted he has a "perverse" impulse to appear in bad films just to see if he can make them better. (Alas, they still don't give out an Oscar for Most Acceptable Part of a Piece of Garbage.) Read more at GQ. Scott Meslow

4:34 p.m.

Have you followed Marie Kondo's advice and thrown out everything in your residence that doesn't spark joy? Great! Now it's time to fill your residence back up again — and as long as your shelves are bare, why not buy all that stuff directly from Marie Kondo's online store?

And if you think it's a little hypocritical for the self-styled de-cluttering guru to sell you a bunch of overpriced junk, we're sure a sip from your $98 gem-infused water bottle will clear those bad vibes right up. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Scott Meslow

4:32 p.m.

Cynthia Erivo stars in Harriet, a based-on-a-true-story drama about the life of the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman — but 25 years ago, at least one Hollywood executive had a different star for a Tubman biopic in mind.

Per Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen Howard says that back in 1994, when he was pitching a Tubman-focused movie, one Hollywood executive proposed an unconventional choice for the lead role: Julia Roberts.

When someone in that meeting raised, well, the most obvious objection to Julia Roberts playing Harriet Tubman, the executive replied, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference" — a thesis that would surely have been put to the test by literally anyone who saw the movie. Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

4:16 p.m.

Democrats might want to shield their eyes from the latest poll from Marquette Law School released Wednesday.

President Trump was shown leading all four of the party's top primary contenders — former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — in head-to-head matchups in Wisconsin, which many analysts regard as one of the most important states in the 2020 election. Last month, three of the four, save for Buttigieg (whose deficit increased) had small leads over the president.

Of course, like all polls there's probably not any reason for Democrats to panic, just as there was no reason for Republicans to worry too much about the October survey. With the exception of Buttigieg again, Trump's leads are all either within in or nearly within the poll's margin of error or 4.1 percentage points.

Biden, meanwhile, was leading the Democratic field among Wisconsin voters with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Sanders at 17 percent, Warren at 15 percent, and Buttigieg at 13 percent.

The Marquette Law School poll was conducted between Nov. 13-17. The sample consisted of 801 registered Wisconsin voters who were interviewed over the phone. The margin of error was 4.1 percentage points. Read the full poll here. Tim O'Donnell

4:09 p.m.

A Joker sequel is in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But Deadline says that's "flat false" — at least, for now.

Rumors about a Joker sequel have abounded this week after the blockbuster raked in $1 billion at the box office. But much of that seemed to be wishful thinking from fans, until THR's report on Wednesday seemingly revealed that "Joker director Todd Phillips headed into Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich's office" on Oct. 7, and "proposed an outsized idea — the rights to develop a portfolio of DC characters' origin stories." The report also added that Joaquin Phoenix and Phillips are "likely to reteam" for the antihero flick's sequel.

But Deadline is countering THR's report and citing multiple sources who say "no such October 7 meeting between Phillips and Emmerich occurred, and that Phillips hasn't even considered overseeing other DC character films." There are currently "no deals for a sequel, nor even any negotiations with director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver to craft one," Deadline's sources say.

While the conflicting reporting leaves unclear whether the sequel is "officially" coming soon, most agree that it's probably happening. Just as Phoenix is game for a sequel, Warner Bros. will surely welcome the deal, so "no one is saying a Joker sequel won't happen someday," Deadline carefully notes. Ramisa Rob

3:54 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting a little ahead of himself.

Hours before the fifth Democratic debate was set to begin, Biden's campaign on Wednesday sent out a fundraising email obviously not intended for release until the debate ended. The message hit inboxes roughly eight hours early.

"I'm leaving the fifth Democratic debate now," read the very first sentence of this email, sent long before the debate even started. "I hope I made you proud out there and I hope I made it clear to the world why our campaign is so important." Well, he made clear why sending prepared emails at a time that actually makes sense is so important, at least.

Spoiler alert: expect some more slams on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from Biden this evening, something supporters were presumably supposed to have already seen before they read, "we need more than plans" in his email

With the White House having accidentally sent talking points to Democrats at least two times in recent months, should Biden defeat President Trump in 2020, the White House tradition of totally incompetent email use may continue for years to come. Brendan Morrow

3:42 p.m.

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) brought the fireworks late during U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's public impeachment testimony Wednesday.

Maloney drew applause from the audience after he got Sondland to admit that hypothetically President Trump would be the one to benefit from an investigation into his domestic rivals, such as former Vice President Joe Biden.

But things got more heated when Sondland expressed displeasure with Maloney's line of questioning, arguing that he had done his best to be forthright during the hearing. Maloney took that comment and ran with it. He grilled Sondland about how Wednesday's testimony was the ambassador's third opportunity to provide truthful information to Congress referring to his initial deposition and then an amended version of that testimony. "All due respect sir, we respect your candor, but let's be really clear what it took to get it out of you," Maloney said.

Yikes. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads