October 11, 2019

After more than two decades with the network, Shepard Smith is leaving Fox News.

The network announced Friday its longtime anchor is leaving after 23 years, with Friday's show being his last.

Smith in a statement said he asked Fox News to allow him to leave to "begin a new chapter" and that "after requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged." His time slot will be filled by a "series of rotating anchors" until a replacement is set, Fox News said. Under the agreement he reached with the network, Smith said Friday he "won't be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future."

This announcement came as a massive shock, especially considering, as The Hollywood Reporter's Alex Weprin notes, he just signed a new multi-year contract in 2018. Even Fox News' Neil Cavuto said on the air Friday he was "a little stunned" by the news.

In recent years, Smith has been a frequent skeptic of President Trump on the network, quick to offer fact-checks that put him at odds with many of his colleagues, especially those in prime-time. This has frequently drawn Trump's ire, and the president just yesterday complained about Smith in a tweet. Shortly after Trump's complaints, Attorney General William Barr and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Fox Corporation, reportedly had a private meeting, though it's unclear what the two discussed.

"It's been an honor and my pleasure," Smith said at the end of his final show. "Even in our currently polarized nation, it's my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive."

You can watch his farewell below: Brendan Morrow

5:39 a.m.

On Friday, President Trump "went on a rant about deregulation," especially "environmental regulations that limit water use in the bathroom," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. And he had a very memorable, very strange example involving prolific toilet-flushing. "People are flushing toilets 15 times?!?" Colbert asked. "What? Are they trying to get rid of a body?" He asked "who in the world needs to flush 15 times," then showed a photo of Trump's diet of choice: "Okay, yeah, that checks out."

"After confirming that he takes huge dumps and doesn't wash his hands," Colbert said, "Trump discussed the big shower in the sky," explaining what rain is.

Yes, Trump "claimed that 'people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times,'" Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "Apparently it's harder than I thought to get rid of a wedding ring."

Trump's flushing comment "might top all of the things he's said," including "covfefe," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "Fifteen times?!? What are you eating? The only time you flush a toilet 15 times is if the DEA is banging on your door and you have a kilo of cocaine up you." Apparently, "this is a big issue for anti-regulation conservatives, and Trump is embracing it," he added. "He even has a new campaign slogan: 'Drain the Toilet.'"

"Let's just assume that people are flushing their toilets 10 or 15 times," Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "Does that mean that people are telling the president of the United States about their flushing habits, or Trump is asking about them?" Trump went on to attack modern light bulbs for making him look orange, he said, "which means there's a decent chance Trump might not know the difference between a light bulb and a mirror."

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah was more receptive to Trump's concern about lackluster toilets. "If Trump can solve that problem, he's getting four more years," he said, conceding that it's "crazy how Trump had so much more emotion talking about toilets than he does about most tragedies." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:07 a.m.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a 476-page report Monday detailing his conclusions about the FBI's investigation of Russian election interference and people associated with President Trump's 2016 campaign. The report had a little something for everyone, disclosing "significant inaccuracies and omissions" at the FBI but also dismantling Trump's accusations that the FBI investigated his campaign for political reasons, broke the law, and launched its investigations without sufficient legal or factual basis.

The reactions to Horowitz's report were mostly positive and wildly divergent.

FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasized to ABC News that he doesn't see any evidence that his agency "unfairly targeted the Trump campaign," but acknowledged the FBI's shortcomings and said he has proposed 40 corrective actions.

"I think it's important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization," Wray said, and without "political bias or improper motivations" in "opening the investigation or the decision to use certain investigative tools," including electronic surveillance.

Trump claimed Horowitz uncovered FBI malfeasance "far worse than what I ever thought possible" and said incorrectly that the report pointed to "an attempted overthrow" of his government. He suggested the "overthrow" might have succeeded if he hadn't taken certain unspecified actions, likely meaning his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Comey claimed vindication in a Washington Post op-ed and on CNN Monday night. "On all the important things," the report "tells the truth," he said, and the truth is that Trump has been lying about the FBI for two years. "People have internalized the lies they've heard," including his mother-in-law, Comey said. "Good people believe when a president says something, so they've heard 'treason' and they've heard 'spying' and they've heard 'informants in the campaign' for two years," and "it's a risk we've become so numb to the lying that we just move on to the next outrage, and we can't do that."

Comey took responsibility for the errors uncovered in the report, but insisted they didn't affect the investigation and the FBI had no choice but to act: "The facts were there, and we should have been fired if we didn't follow up on the facts that we received in late July — and we followed up, as you know, quietly, we didn't reveal it to anyone, we didn't leak it to anyone." Peter Weber

1:45 a.m.

"It's 16 days until Christmas, but we got a little present today ahead of time from the inspector general of the Justice Department," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. For years, President Trump has insisted that "the 2016 Russia probe started only because of anti-Trump bias in the FBI. He said that was the real scandal. Well, today, after months of investigating, the DOJ inspector released his report finding no bias, concluding that the FBI had sufficient evidence to lawfully open the Russia investigation."

"Okay, there it is," Colbert said. "Truth wins. This wasn't an overthrow of the government, this wasn't even an attempted overthrow, and no one was 'in on it.'" He chose those words because, as he showed, Trump used them to claim the exact opposite. "Okay, I didn't read that part," Colbert deadpanned. "So you're saying the 'Deep State' was trying to overthrow your government when they started the Russia investigation in July of 2016, before you were elected?" Nothing Trump said "was actually in the report," he emphasized. Trump is just spinning "an alternate reality he wants to exist."

"So on one level, obviously, this is fun, and ha ha ha," Colbert said. "But it's also really dangerous, because why have an election if next Nov. 3 he can just say, 'I just saw the election results — I won all 50 states, plus Manitoba'?" The report also had some new information about former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the infamous dossier on Trump. Steele said he was "favorably disposed" toward the Trump family before he started digging, because he had "been friendly" with Ivanka Trump, Colbert noted. He also touched on Trump's impeachment, bizarre speech to a Jewish group over the weekend, and ... Ivanka. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:50 a.m.

President Trump and his allies have hinged their "witch hunt" narrative in part on private text messages the Trump administration released between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok, both of whom have since left the FBI. Some of the text messages suggested the pair would have preferred that Hillary Clinton, not Trump, win the 2016 election.

The report Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released Monday on the FBI's handling of the Trump-Russia investigation found no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation" influenced the decision to investigate members of Trump's 2016 campaign, including from Page — who played no role in those decisions — or Strzok.

Horowitz's report did, interestingly, include some text messages between two FBI agents and a special supervisory agent (SSA) with an evident pro-Trump, anti-Clinton bias.

In Nov. 9, 2016, text messages, the supervisory agent said he "was so elated with the election" and volunteered to investigate the Clinton Foundation "if you hear talk of a special prosecutor." When confronted with his texts, the SSA explained it was "just energizing to me to see" Clinton lose because "I didn't want a criminal to be in the White House."

In Horowitz's previous report on the FBI and the 2016 election, he detailed how FBI and Justice Department leaders were so concerned about anti-Clinton leaks from the FBI's New York field office — former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Horowitz it was "clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton" — they decided they had to publicly disclose that the FBI was briefly reopening the Clinton email investigation in late October 2016.

"It played as a stunning piece of news, a fresh gust of scandal 11 days before the election," The New York Times recounted Sunday. Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, then a top campaign surrogate, had teased this "surprise," citing FBI agents, showing yet again "that working with virtually nothing, he could cultivate the mere existence of investigations to his political benefit." Peter Weber

December 9, 2019

The #MeToo movement will be under a new kind of spotlight at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.

Monday's Golden Globe nominations include Bombshell, The Morning Show, and The Loudest Voice, all of which touch on sexual harassment as illuminated by the #MeToo movement.

It's been more than two years since the Time's Up and #MeToo movements sent shockwaves through Hollywood. And in true headline-pulling Hollywood fashion, stories centering around the movements were adapted for both the big and small screens.

Both the movie Bombshell and the mini-series The Loudest Voice are about the real-life ex-Fox News executive, Roger Ailes. The former media bigwig was accused of sexual harassment by multiple female employees. His most prominent accusers were Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, who Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron portrayed in Bombshell. Margot Robbie, who plays a fictional character, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, and Theron was nominated for Best Actress. In The Loudest Voice, Russell Crowe nabbed a Limited Series acting nomination for his depiction of Ailes.

Apple TV+'s first original series, The Morning Show, is about a fictional morning show resembling The Today Show and its Matt Lauer scandal. It too snagged some major Golden Globe nominations for both of its lead actresses, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

While #MeToo previously left its mark on the awards show via impassioned acceptance speeches and dress code protests, it looks like this year will reach a whole new, slightly meta level, with celebrities applauding and awarding projects focused on the very movements that have taken hold in their industries. However, there is irony in the fact that the nominations were far from a major win for women: not one woman was nominated in the best director category. Brielle Diskin

December 9, 2019

It's been a big day for transparency and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Democratic presidential campaign.

Buttigieg, who has faced scrutiny recently over his time between 2007 and 2010 working at the consulting firm McKinsey and Co., will be able to disclose the identity of his former clients after the firm gave him the go ahead to break his confidentiality agreement. In a statement, McKinsey said that while protecting their clients usually takes top priority, Buttigieg's presidential bid makes for extraordinary circumstances.

In other Buttigieg news, the mayor will open his campaign fundraisers to the public and unveil the names of his contributors. The fact that he had so far kept those things under wraps was something other candidates — notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — had pinpointed about his campaign, as the 37-year-old continues to try to fully break into the top tier of Democratic contenders. Tim O'Donnell

December 9, 2019

There's nothing fishy about what's happening in Alaska.

The state's cod population in the Gulf of Alaska has dropped to an unprecedented low, leading Anchorage's federal cod fishery to announce Friday it would close for the 2020 season. And it's becoming very clear why: As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday, 2019 has so far been Alaska's warmest year on record.

NOAA measuring stations in Anchorage, Cold Bay, Homer, and Kodiak have all reported their warmest November on record, culminating in the whole state's fourth-warmest autumn of all time. That leaves 2019 as Alaska's warmest year so far, narrowly beating out 2016 as Alaska's hottest year since measurements first started in 1925.

Monday's NOAA report lends concrete proof of what fisheries in Alaska have experienced. Another NOAA assessment of Gulf cod populations taken this fall showed there were "next to no" new eggs among the cod population, largely thanks to warming ocean waters stemming from climate change. And with the Gulf of Alaska's fishery closed for the first time ever, whole communities who depend on the fishing economy are now at risk. Kathryn Krawczyk

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