×
February 24, 2015

Fox News star Bill O'Reilly may or may not have a "Brian Williams problem," as Mother Jones asserts in an article questioning O'Reilly's heroic tales while covering the Falkland Islands war for CBS News. But he certainly isn't handling the accusations like Williams did.

Whereas Williams apologized for, he says, remembering his Iraq War helicopter ride incorrectly, O'Reilly told a New York Times reporter on Monday that if he deemed any of the reporter's coverage of his Falkland War stories unfair, "I am coming after you with everything I have," write Emily Steel and Ravi Somaiya in The Times. "You can take it as a threat," O'Reilly added.

The dispute now centers around whether Buenos Aires — 1,200 miles from the Falklands — was an active war zone, as O'Reilly has contended through the years in books and interviews. (Mother Jones also posted video where O'Reilly seems to suggest he was on the Falkland Islands.) O'Reilly's former CBS News colleagues and other news organizations' reporters in Argentina at the time say that no, there were protests in Buenos Aires but they weren't very violent. And there is no record of any civilians killed by government forces, as O'Reilly says he witnessed.

Fox News is standing solidly behind O'Reilly. And seeing as how Williams' apology ended — six month suspension without pay, at the least — maybe O'Reilly's counteroffensive will be more effective. Still, threatening reporters only adds fuel to a simmering fire. Peter Weber

3:05 a.m.

Last week, the White House budget office took the extraordinary step of classifying Internal Revenue Service employees who process tax refunds as "essential" and recalling at least 30,000 to return to work without pay. But hundreds of those un-furloughed workers are staying home, requesting and receiving "hardship" exemptions that, under their union contract, allow them to skip work during a shutdown if they can't afford to work for free, The Washington Post reports.

"Trump has expressed an interest in making sure that tax refunds are paid out next month, believing that if they are delayed he could face major public backlash," the Post reports. But IRS workers who help process refunds and answer taxpayer questions are among the lowest-paid at the agency. "They are definitely angry that they're not getting paid, and maybe some of them are angry enough to express their anger this way," said Tony Reardon, president of the 150,000-member National Treasury Employees Union. "But these employees live paycheck to paycheck, and they can't scrape up the dollars to get to work or pay for child care."

If the number of IRS workers staying home rises, as union officials say they expect it will, refunds will likely be delayed. The IRS won't say how many workers are out on hardship leave, and IRS spokesman Matt Leas tells the Post that the agency is busy preparing for next week's start of tax filing season, "we are continuing our recall operations, and we continue to assess the situation at this time." You can read about some of the hardships at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

1:51 a.m.

President Trump might soon restrict Rudy Giuliani's television privileges, but that's likely as far as his punishment will go for a problematic media tour.

On Sunday, Giuliani announced on Meet the Press that discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow project continued until October or November 2016, meaning that Trump was dealing with Russians throughout the entire campaign, contradicting Trump. Giuliani tried to do damage control on Monday, saying his comments were "hypothetical," but then he dug himself a deeper hole by telling The New Yorker he listened to tapes of Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. When pressed, he backtracked. "I shouldn't have said tapes," Giuliani replied. "No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this."

This left Trump and some of his allies completely agitated, three White House officials told The Associated Press, and Trump is being encouraged to put Giuliani on a TV timeout. His antics have overshadowed what Trump saw as good news: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office saying portions of a BuzzFeed News article about Trump directing Cohen to lie are not accurate. Giuliani "changed the headlines," but not in a good way, AP notes.

A White House aide told Politico that "handling Rudy's f--kups takes more than one man," but people close to Trump tell CNN and AP that Trump doesn't plan on giving Giuliani the ax. Still, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reports, Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are both urging him to cut ties.

The big question isn't whether Trump will fire Giuliani, but rather, what's behind all the mixed messages? Some theorize that Giuliani likes to drop bombs right before major stories break, but friends of Giuliani say it's simple: He loves being in the spotlight, even if he's struggling to adapt to the current media landscape. As one buddy told Sherman: "There's a school of thought that it's better to be famous and ridiculed than ignored." Catherine Garcia

1:50 a.m.

President Trump may get easily bored by former House Speaker Paul Ryan, but he apparently never tires of space travel. NASA is currently shuttered in the 32-day-old government shutdown, but in April 2017, Trump was willing to give the space agency unlimited funding if it spent the money getting astronauts to Mars while he was still in office, according to former Trump aide Cliff Sims' new memoir, Team of Vipers.

Anyone who watched Trump's public April 24 video chat with astronauts on the International Space Station heard him say he wanted to speed up the manned mission to Mars by a decade, New York's Olivia Nuzzi notes. And according Sims, Trump was dead serious. About three minutes before the video chat, Trump abruptly asked acting NASA chief Robert Lightfoot Jr. about the plan for Mars, Nuzzi recaps:

Lightfoot explained to the president — who, again, had recently signed a bill containing a plan for Mars — that NASA planned to send a rover to Mars in 2020 and, by the 2030s, would attempt a manned spaceflight. "Trump bristled," according to Sims. He asked, "But is there any way we could do it by the end of my first term?" Sims described the uncomfortable exchange that followed the question, with Lightfoot shifting and placing his hand on his chin, hesitating politely and attempting to let Trump down easily. ...

"But what if I gave you all the money you could ever need to do it?" Trump asked. "What if we sent NASA's budget through the roof, but focused entirely on that instead of whatever else you're doing now. Could it work then?" Lightfoot told him he was sorry, but he didn't think it was possible. This left Trump "visibly disappointed," Sims wrote. [New York]

With about 30 seconds until chat time, Trump took a detour to "his white-marbled bathroom for one final check in the mirror," Sims writes. "In the bathroom mirror, Trump smirked and said to himself, 'Space Station, this is your president.'" Read more at New York.

12:50 a.m.

Tuesday was Day 32 of the government shutdown, and Stephen Colbert is prepping to live without a government. "I'm licking raw chicken to build up an immunity, and I'm practicing to be my own TSA," he joked on Tuesday's Late Show. "I'm hiding something somewhere, and I'm gonna find it." There is some hope for a temporary end to the shutdown, Colbert noted, but there was also "some bad news from the Supreme Court," which revived President Trump's ban on transgender military service. "That was like 15 bigoted policies ago," he said, and since it was a 5-4 party-line vote, Colbert threw in a Brett Kavanaugh joke.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani "stepped in it" on Sunday by saying Trump's Moscow Trump Tower deal was under negotiation until right before the 2016 election, but he "tried to call backsies" in a "weird" and "rambling" interview with The New Yorker on Monday night, Colbert said. Giuliani appeared to disclose Trump-Russia tapes and conversations he later said he shouldn't have mentioned, contradicted himself repeatedly, and mused about lying for Trump being on his tombstone and how he would convince St. Peter he was honest. "You know things are going great when your lawyer is already prepping his argument to stay out of hell," Colbert said.

Cliff Sims, a former Trump staffer with a new tell-all out, will be on The Late Show next week, Colbert said, and he ran through some of the newly released revelations, like Trump's reliance on budget-brand hairspray ("Now we know where Trump gets most of his best ideas from — the fumes," Colbert joked) and Trump walking out on a droning Paul Ryan to turn on the TV in a room down the hall. In Colbert's imagination, the TV wasn't tuned to Fox News.

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon put on his Trump outfit and imagined what other things are going through Trump's head these days. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:04 a.m.

For three months during the Korean War, 1,000 sailors aboard the USS Point Cruz doted on a tiny passenger: A baby rescued from a trash can in Seoul.

While on a walk in 1953, Navy medic Norm Van Sloun of Minnesota and a few other sailors heard a cry, and that's when they found the baby, left for dead. He was half-Korean, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and Van Sloun told WCCO that at the time, orphanages "wouldn't have anything to do with Caucasian babies." So, he was brought on board, and within five hours, carpenters had a crib ready for him and a sick bay was transformed into a nursery.

The baby was named George Ascom Cruz — ASCOM after the compound where he was found, and Cruz in honor of the aircraft carrier. He spent three months on board, and during that time, the skipper flew a diaper right below the American flag. The baby had visiting hours, and the sailors would "all line up to come see George," Van Sloun said. "It was amazing."

Van Sloun always wondered what happened to George, and so did his children, who grew up hearing stories about the baby their father found. His daughter Mary Beth Bouley recently posted about George online, and it didn't take long for him to get in touch. His name is now Dan Keenen, and he was adopted by a Navy surgeon in Spokane, Washington. Keenen is married and has two sons, and couldn't wait to see Van Sloun.

They recently reconnected via video chat, with Van Sloun, now 88, reminiscing with Keenen about the time they spent together. Keenen told Van Sloun he could never fully convey just how much he appreciated what the sailors did for him. "If it weren't for these guys," he said, "I literally wouldn't be here today because I wouldn't have survived there." Catherine Garcia

January 22, 2019

Late Tuesday, Los Angeles teachers approved a contract deal and agreed to return to the classrooms on Wednesday after a six-day strike in the nation's second-largest school district. The votes of the 30,000 teachers union members were still being counted Tuesday night, but "a vast supermajority are voting yes for the agreement that we made," said union president Alex Caputo-Pearl. "Those are preliminary results but they're so overwhelming that we know what the results are going to be."

The deal, finalized early Tuesday, gives teachers a 6 percent raise, reduces class sizes incrementally over the next few years, and increases the number of support staff, including teachers and librarians. The Board of Education is expected to ratify the deal in short order. Caputo-Pearl called the agreement a "historic victory" for "educators, students, and parents" achieved through "unity, our action, and our shared sacrifice." Peter Weber

January 22, 2019

Pitcher Mariano Rivera made history on Tuesday, becoming the first player unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rivera, who played for the New York Yankees for 19 seasons, received a vote on all 425 ballots cast. Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Mike Mussina were also elected on Tuesday. In December, the Today's Game Era Committee picked Harold Baines and Lee Smith for induction. They will be honored during a ceremony July 21 in Cooperstown, New York.

With Rivera as a closer, the Yankees won five World Series titles. The 13-time All-Star was also named the MVP of the 1999 World Series. Before Rivera, Ken Griffey Jr. came the closest to being unanimously elected, receiving 99.3 percent of the vote three years ago. This was the first year Halladay, who died in a plane crash in November 2017, was on the ballot. The last player to be elected on the first ballot posthumously was Christy Mathewson in 1936, the Los Angeles Times reports. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads