January 16, 2018

HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield came to the defense of Aziz Ansari on her show, Crime & Justice, after a pseudonymous woman, "Grace," accused the actor of sexual assault in an article published over the weekend. "Grace" claimed her date with Ansari was "the worst experience with a man I've ever had" and that the actor repeatedly pressured her to have sex despite her objections.

Addressing Grace directly, Banfield said: "I'm sorry you had a bad date. I've had a few myself. They stink. I'm sure it must be really weighing on you." Banfield clarified, though, that "after protesting [Ansari's] moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in a sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault." Banfield added that if Grace was indeed sexually assaulted, "you should go to the police right now."

Otherwise, seeing that the encounter did not "affect your workplace or your ability to get a job," Banfield inquired: "What exactly was your beef — that you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari?" She concluded: "What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling. You went to the press with the story of a bad date. And you have potentially destroyed this man's career over it, right after he received an award for which he was worthy."

Watch the segment below, and read why Damon Linker says the Ansari takedown is a setback for the #MeToo movement here at The Week. Jeva Lange

January 16, 2018

Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon is the relatively apolitical late-night host, so presumably he was channeling 1970 James Taylor on Monday's show when he endorsed Oprah Winfrey for president in 2020, concern-trolled Stephen Bannon, and used some of the details in the Michael Wolff tell-all Fire and Fury to paint President Trump as a cheeseburger-eating TV addict who has turned the White House into a "s--thole." Fallon, dressed as early-vintage Taylor, sang a modified version of Taylor's hit "Fire and Rain," and it had plenty of zingers. "I've seen Fire and I've seen Fury, I've seen White House staff who will have to face a jury," he sang on one chorus. "I've seen him drink a cup of water with tiny hands, while he's lying in bed watching Fox & Friends." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 11, 2018

President Trump began Thursday by tweeting out two very different takes on a sweeping surveillance law, all but ensuring an eventful day for his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sure enough, the afternoon briefing did not disappoint, as Sanders insisted Trump's tweets — the first insinuating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had been used nefariously to "abuse the Trump campaign," the second imploring the House to extend the bill because "we need it!" — were entirely in concert with one another.

Sanders insisted that Trump has a "full understanding" of the FISA debate, additionally pointing to comments made earlier Thursday by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that defended the president's knowledge of the issue. "It is well-known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law," said Ryan, who went on to acknowledge that the domestic law was "not what we're doing today." Ryan reportedly called Trump after the president's first tweet this morning to clarify the White House position.

That wasn't enough for MSNBC's Hallie Jackson, who pressed Sanders to explain how exactly Trump's missives did not contradict each other. "His tweet today was confusing, it was contradictory. It just was," Jackson said, before asking how people can trust administration officials to relay the president's positions if he changes them seemingly on a whim.

"I think the premise of your question is completely ridiculous and shows the lack of knowledge that you have on this process," Sanders retorted, adding that the president's tweet "wasn't confusing to me. I'm sorry if it was for you." Watch Sanders' full defense to Jackson below. Kimberly Alters

January 8, 2018

On Monday morning, CNN's Chris Cuomo tried to make ex-Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo acknowledge that President Trump appears to have a warped sense of priorities, given his recent tweets and bombastic reaction to Michael Wolff's explosive book, Fire and Fury.

"Of the last 10 tweets [made by Trump], only two are about matters of state. Eight of the 10 are personal gripes. Even if you want to cut out the 25th Amendment, mental capacity, how healthy his mind and soul are right now, isn't this proof that he's spending way too much on the wrong things?" Cuomo asked.

Caputo disagreed: "The fact of the matter is this book has come out with some very personal and very visceral, even insulting criticisms of the president of the United States, and he feels compelled to defend himself."

An incredulous Cuomo suggested instead that Trump should ignore the noise around him and focus on governing. "If you voted for this man ... is that why you voted for him, to spend his time defending himself against ghosts of the past?"

While Caputo said he wants the White House to tout more of their "successes and their agenda," he would not concede that Trump's use of Twitter was a problem. "I believe the president has every right, and I expect him to defend himself against this trashy book from a trashy writer," he said.

Watch the whole interview at Mediaite. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 5, 2018

CNN's Ana Cabrera got more than she bargained for when she had Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) on her show Friday morning, ostensibly to talk about his vehement opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' threat to legal marijuana. The interview, though, quickly derailed as Cabrera tried to fact-check and offer viewers clarifications. "Maybe somebody who is your guest should be able to say a few words," Rohrabacher complained.

As the interview progressed, Rohrabacher began to openly criticize Cabrera. At one point, as Cabrera tried to clarify who has pleaded guilty so far in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, Rohrabacher said: "Please, you might let me make my point before you interrupt me and try to refute me. This isn't a news operation. This what is the president is upset about."

Later, when Rohrabacher again chided Cabrera — "It's also not good to interrupt people when they're trying to make a point when you're a news person," he said — Cabrera apologized, adding: "I mean you no disrespect, sir."

"No disrespect?" Rohrabacher went off. "But I've got no respect. No disrespect? You don't respect Trump, you don't respect people who disagree with you politically, and that's why the news media, which has an agenda, drives special prosecutors." Watch the bonkers interview below. Jeva Lange

January 5, 2018

He's baaaack. Longtime Late Show host David Letterman at long last returns, full beard and all, with his new Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Indeed they do not: Letterman's first guest in the two-hour premiere will be former President Barack Obama "giving his first on-camera talk-show chat of the Trump era," Entertainment Weekly reports.

Additional guests include George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey, and Howard Stern. The six-episode series launches Jan. 12 and will roll out with one new episode a month. Get reacquainted with Letterman in the trailer below. Jeva Lange

January 5, 2018

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House author Michael Wolff said of the 200 interviews he conducted for his new tell-all book, "the one description that everyone gave, that everyone has in common, they all say [President Trump] is like a child."

It is hardly the only explosive comment Wolff has made, nor is it the only one likely to get under Trump's skin. Trump's lawyers have gone as far as to send Wolff's publisher, Henry Holt and Co., a cease and desist letter. Henry Holt responded by bumping the book's publication date to Friday.

Speaking on Today, Wolff explained that people in Trump's orbit observe the president's need for "immediate gratification. It's all about him." Wolff pointed to the cease and desist letter as an example, noting that he has sources in the White House saying "'we should not be doing this, this is not smart.' And he just insists. He just has to be satisfied in the moment."

Wolff offered another descriptor of the president that also might sound familiar to parents of young children. "This man does not read. Does not listen," said Wolff. "He's like a pinball, just shooting off the sides." Watch below. Jeva Lange

January 5, 2018

Sarah Huckabee Sanders turned Thursday's White House press briefing over to "special guest" President Trump for a few minutes, but there was a catch: He appeared on two TV screens, in a pretaped pep talk for the Republican tax overhaul, thus avoiding any questions. Trump "did avoid some zingers" about his mental acuity, Jeanne Moos noted at CNN, but reporters were unimpressed with the lecture from Trump's disembodied head. Some wags on Twitter compared the spectacle to The Wizard of Oz, "but there was no curtain-grabbing Toto to disturb the stagecraft at the briefing," Moos said, immediately mixing her metaphor. "Instead of making the trek from the Oval Office the president made like Star Trek."

Moos' "hail to the star chief" kicker is pretty lame, but frankly, so was the stunt that inspired it. Peter Weber

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