September 13, 2019

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro's debate swipe at former Vice President Joe Biden's memory was a big miss, according to MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski slammed Castro Friday after he questioned Biden's memory at the third Democratic debate and asked if he "already" forgot what he said "two minutes ago" during a discussion on health care. This attack, Brzezinski argued, was a "low blow."

"Castro essentially implied that Biden is senile," Brzezinski said. "... There were so many things wrong with that."

Scarborough agreed, calling this a "cheap shot," a "low blow," and "ageism," concluding that "it is hard to imagine how Julián Castro could have looked much worse last night."

Of course, there was also the issue that, as the hosts pointed out, Castro appears to have been wrong. Castro has since argued his swipe was, in fact, correct and that he wasn't trying to go after Biden's age.

But the 2020 Democrat has been taking post-debate fire for this, including from some of his fellow candidates, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) saying it reminded her of something President Trump would tweet. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), however, has defended Castro, saying, "there are definitely moments when you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder." Brendan Morrow

11:38 a.m.

Robert De Niro has once again been snubbed at a key Oscars precursor, putting his chances of a best actor win in doubt.

The nominations for the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Wednesday, and in the lead actor category, De Niro was surprisingly not nominated for his performance in The Irishman. That's not a great sign considering the winner of the best actor award at the Oscars is almost always at least nominated in this equivalent category the SAG awards.

Instead, the nominees for the SAG best actor prize this year are Christian Bale for Ford v Ferrari, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, Taron Egerton for Rocketman, and Joaquin Phoenix for Joker. DiCaprio, Driver, and Phoenix were all widely expected to get nominations, though Egerton's nod for some came as a surprise.

De Niro will be honored by SAG with a Life Achievement Award this year, however, and The Irishman itself earned a nomination for best cast, so Gold Derby wonders if "perhaps voters thought he'd be duly rewarded there."

Still, this snub comes after De Niro was also conspicuously left out in the cold at the Golden Globe Awards, where Bale, DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, and Phoenix all received nominations, although in separate fields since the Golden Globes divides its awards into drama and musical or comedy categories.

De Niro isn't the only actor whose Oscars prospects are looking worse this week than last, with Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler also getting snubbed at both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, while Dolemite Is My Name's Eddie Murphy got nominated at the Golden Globes but missed at the SAG Awards.

After these two snubs, when it comes to picking up an Oscar nomination let alone a win, The Washington Post's Thomas Floyd observes it seems De Niro now "faces an uphill climb." Brendan Morrow

11:31 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just spent more than 40 minutes tearing into the FBI for its handling of the 2016 investigation into Russian election interference.

In his opening statement before Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's testimony before the Senate panel on his report on the probe, Graham said FBI agents were "biased" against President Trump and questioned whether the agency had selected its top individuals. Graham did say he respects the FBI as a whole, but is still troubled by Horowitz's report.

Several observers noted that during his oration, Graham didn't mention that Horowitz — despite finding several issues with the probe — also concluded that it was justified and free from political bias when launched.

Graham also surprised a few people when he mused over whether the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court should continue unless it's reformed. That's because he's been an ardent supporter in the past. Tim O'Donnell

Tim O'Donnell

10:25 a.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is giving the media the cold shoulder.

Johnson made an early-morning visit to a dairy business in England on Wednesday when a producer for Good Morning Britain, hosted by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, walked up and asked if he'd go live with the show. "I'll be with you in just a minute," Johnson said, before turning and walking into a giant fridge full of milk.

Jonathan Swain, the Good Morning Britain producer, made several attempts to get Johnson on the air. His first one was rebuffed by Johnson's press secretary, who can be seen mumbling an expletive. Swain then continues trying to milk Johnson for an interview, asking him to "deliver on your promise to talk to Piers and Susanna" and telling him he has an earpiece ready. But Johnson stays glued to his tour, lifts some milk crates, and eventually escapes into the fridge. Watch the whole chilling scene below. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:07 a.m.

The sanctions keep on coming.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday announced sanctions on Iran's largest shipping company and airline in an attempt to stop the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Financial Times reports.

The shipping company, the Islamic Republican of Iran Shipping Lines, has been accused of smuggling weapons into Yemen on behalf the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; OFAC said the U.S. seized weapons on a small boat last month believed to be on their way to Houthi rebels. OFAC also said Mahan Air has aided the IRGC and has also "moved weapons and personnel for Hezbollah" and the Assad regime in Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will continue a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions against Iran. Tim O'Donnell

9:50 a.m.

Disney's streaming service, Avengers: Endgame, and the definitions of "boomer" and "quid pro quo" were among 2019's top trending searches, according to Google.

Google has released its list of the year's top trending searches, which are determined by looking at spikes in search activity compared to the year prior. In the United States, the top trending search for all of 2019 was Disney+, the new streaming service that launched domestically in November.

That's far from Disney's only presence here, with its blockbuster Avengers: Endgame being the number seven trending search in the U.S., while Baby Yoda, the breakout star of the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, was the top trending baby search of the year. Yes, Baby Yoda came in above the term "royal baby." On the list of top trending movies of the year in America, half of them are Disney films: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, and Frozen 2.

When it comes to news stories, the top trending search in the U.S. was Hurricane Dorian, followed by the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, the Women's World Cup, and the "Area 51 raid," referring to when millions joined a Facebook event declaring their intention to storm the facility to "see them aliens." Needless to say, that didn't happen.

On the list of searches beginning in "what is...," the top trending question posed to Google was also related to this meme, with users asking, "What is Area 51?" In fourth place on the questions list was "what is a boomer," no doubt due to the rise of the "OK boomer" meme, while "what is quid pro quo" came in at number five due to the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. And, of course, Disney remains inescapable even on this list, with number seven being, "What is Disney+?" and number nine being "What is a Mandalorian?"

Read the full list of top trending searches here. Brendan Morrow

8:20 a.m.

Time has selected 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 person of the year.

Thunberg, who this year led a worldwide movement demanding action on climate change and delivered a scathing United Nations speech scolding world leaders for "failing us," is the youngest Time person of the year ever by almost a decade; the previous youngest was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

"For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.

The four other final candidates considered for person of the year were President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry, and the Hong Kong protesters. Brendan Morrow

7:45 a.m.

Four more years? If former Vice President Joe Biden is elected, maybe not.

Biden is signaling to aides that he would not run for a second term should he be elected president, Politico reports, with a prominent adviser to the campaign telling the outlet, "he's going to be 82 years old in four years and he won't be running for re-election."

The former vice president's advisers have reportedly been debating whether he should make this pledge publicly, but Politico reports Biden "has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicate that he will almost certainly not" do so. Citing four people who regularly talk to Biden, Politico writes it's "virtually inconceivable" he would run for re-election.

Another Biden adviser suggested he's somewhat less definitive about it but has the attitude of, "I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that's not possible or doesn't happen then I'll run for re-election." This adviser added he will not make the pledge publicly, while another said he dismissed such a pledge as a "gimmick."

Still, Politico reports, "several advisers now quietly acknowledge that while Biden won't run for re-election he cannot say so publicly."

In April, Biden simply responded "no" when asked if he would only serve one term, but Politico notes that in October, he was less definitive about it.

"I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you'll see," Biden said, The Associated Press reports. "It doesn't mean I would run a second term. I'm not going to make that judgment at this moment." Brendan Morrow

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