October 9, 2019

Harvey Weinstein pressured NBC News into killing an investigation into his alleged sexual abuse using dirt on Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow alleges in his new book.

Farrow in October 2017 published allegations of sexual abuse against Weinstein, but his New Yorker exposé was originally intended to be published by NBC News. In his new book Catch and Kill, Farrow alleges that prior to NBC's decision not to run his story, Weinstein "made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer's behavior and capable of revealing it," The Hollywood Reporter writes. Farrow reports Weinstein used dirt about Lauer, who was then host of Today, obtained by the National Enquirer to pressure NBC into killing the investigation, citing anonymous sources at NBC and AMI, the Enquirer's publisher. This reportedly occurred after Weinstein strategized with AMI's chief content officer, Dylan Howard.

NBC has denied Farrow's claim, saying it was never "made aware in any way of any threats." The network has said it was not aware of alleged misconduct by Lauer until firing him in November 2017, and NBC News Chair Andy Lack in 2018 said Farrow's reporting wasn't run because it wasn't "yet fit to broadcast."

Weinstein reportedly felt, though, that he had successfully pressured NBC into spiking the story, with Farrow reporting Weinstein bragged in his office, "If I can get a network to kill a story, how hard can a newspaper be?" He was referring to The New York Times, which in October 2017 broke the story about the misconduct allegations against him.

Sometime after Weinstein was informed Farrow wasn't working on the story for NBC, Farrow reports NBC News President Noah Oppenheim engaged with Weinstein in a friendly email about Megyn Kelly's debut in which Oppenheim wrote, "Thanks Harvey, appreciate the well-wishes," per the Reporter. Weinstein reportedly then sent him a bottle of vodka. Brendan Morrow

4:31 p.m.

Pixar fans expecting an animated short from the studio to play before Onward might be about to have a cow.

Disney's newest Pixar film will open with an animated short, as per usual. But the studio has announced that this time, it will come from a not-so-usual place: The Simpsons.

Yes, The Simpsons is a Disney property ever since the company's Fox purchase last year, and now, Disney will proudly show off what that money got them with a Simpsons short called "Playdate with Destiny" that will play before Onward.

This Simpsons short will evidently be centered around Maggie Simpson, and one has to assume it will be fairly family-friendly given its place before this PG Disney release. But if the conceptual idea of the long-running show that's been known to brutally mock Disney actually being owned by Disney was already weird enough, get ready for the surreal sight of new Simpsons content being immediately followed by ... the Cinderella castle. Ay, caramba, indeed. Brendan Morrow

3:49 p.m.

Pollsters at The Associated Press and NORC gave the public a chance to describe presidential candidates in one word or short phrase. The results were... telling.

Democrats described former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as nearly equal parts "smart," "young," and "gay." Independents and Republicans were far more likely to describe him as "gay," as well as "inexperienced," and "centrist." Philanthropist Tom Steyer was more overwhelmingly described as "rich" by Democrats, while independents and Republicans opted for "inexperienced."

While former Vice President Joe Biden scored some mentions of "good person" among Democrats, he mostly got "old." Independents and Republicans also mostly called him "old," also including "corrupt" and "creepy."

Democrats and independents also primarily described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as "old," though Republicans went straight for "socialist," followed by "old," and "communist."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is older than Biden and just months younger than Sanders, is universally regarded as "rich" (a fair assessment), and Republicans said he's "buying the election."

Democrats were split in describing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as "smart" and "strong," though independents and Republicans view her primarily as a "liar," as well as "crazy" and a "woman," which is hardly up for debate.

While the Democratic candidates were generally regarded more positively by members of their own party, surveyed Republicans didn't come up with great words for President Trump. Most Republicans simply said "president," followed by "bumbling" and "jerk."

The AP-NORC poll was conducted Feb. 12-16 via phone interviews with 1,074 adults. The margin of error is ±4.2 percentage points. View the full results at AP-NORC. Summer Meza

3:33 p.m.

You'd think President Trump was being haunted by Freddy Krueger based on his sleep habits as described by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney while speaking at Friday's Conservative Political Action Conference declared that the president basically "never sleeps," having apparently barely done so before addressing the nation about the coronavirus crisis earlier this week.

"He flew to India, did a day and a half of work, flew back, did not sleep on the flight home, and I know that because he's emailing and texting and taking phone calls," Mulvaney said.

Trump arrived back in the U.S. on an 18-hour return trip from India, during which Mulvaney claims he got no sleep whatsoever, early on Wednesday morning, proceeding to deliver a press conference about 12 hours later running on what Mulvaney described to be at least "a day and a half" without sleep.

Although Mulvaney chalked up Trump's wacky sleep schedule to his desire to get the most out of his time in office, Trump seemingly didn't get a whole lot of sleep even as a private citizen. In his 2004 book Think Like a Billionaire, he wrote that he sleeps "about four hours per night," urging readers not to "sleep any more than you have to." Brendan Morrow

2:35 p.m.

A federal appeals court has blocked President Trump's policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases work their way through the immigration court system.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals came to this decision on Friday, saying that the policy is "invalid in its entirety," The New York Times reports. The Times notes this Migrant Protection Protocols policy, also referred to as the "Remain in Mexico" policy, was a "central pillar" of Trump's immigration agenda.

A federal judge in April 2019 issued an injunction against the Trump administration's policy after it was enacted that January, but a court of appeals later allowed it to go into effect while legal challenges against it continued, NBC News reports. Almost 60,000 people have been sent back to Mexico under the program, Reuters reports.

Additionally, the appeals court on Friday also upheld a ban on a rule preventing those who cross the border between ports of entry from being eligible from asylum, per NBC News.

The Washington Post noted Friday that "the number of people waiting in Mexican border cities for U.S. immigration court dates has dwindled, in part because migrants said they were not making the trek to the United States in the first place given how unlikely it would be that they would gain entry," but it's "unclear what halting the policy might do to that mind-set." Brendan Morrow

2:20 p.m.

Biden's got plenty of fire, it's just a friendly fire.

Former Vice President Joe Biden sought to reassure a voter that he's passionate about the issues and his campaign while speaking at an event for supporters on Friday.

"What is your fire?" asked an attendee. "Because you see [Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)], you see [Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)]. You see that fire. That's what I'm looking for. What is your fire?"

"Decency and honor," Biden began, to cheers and applause. "The fact that I'm not screaming like Bernie and waving my arms like Elizabeth is not a lack of fire," he said.

Critics, including former Obama White House adviser David Axelrod, have panned Biden's "low energy" campaign performance, especially in debates. Sanders himself, who is often criticized for speaking loudly, has said Biden lacks "energy and excitement" both to spark voter turnout and to defeat President Trump. Warren's campaign style has been interpreted by the Los Angeles Times as a way to demonstrate her physical fitness and stamina in comparison to her fellow candidates. She has hit back against comments from Biden calling her "angry," saying "I own it." Summer Meza

1:11 p.m.

Regrets — Gwyneth Paltrow has a few. During a promotion for her Netflix show, Goop Lab, Paltrow admitted that her "least favorite performance" was in Shallow Hal in 2001.

"I'm not sure who told you to do that one, but it wasn't me," teased Paltrow's best friend and assistant, Kevin Keating.

In the movie, Hal (Jack Black) is hypnotized to only see inner beauty, with Paltrow playing the supposed "beautiful" version of an obese woman named Rosemary. When Rosemary is seen through the eyes of others, Paltrow donned a fat suit to emphasize the weight. The movie has since been criticized for its suggestion that "the only way a fat woman can be loved is to be loved in spite of her body," explains Jezebel. "The movie allows no possibility that a fat body could be considered a beautiful body."

"That was before your time!" Paltrow told Keating after he named Shallow Hal, visibly cringing. "See what happened? Disaster." Watch below. Jeva Lange

12:24 p.m.

Donald Trump Jr. on Friday suggested Democrats are hoping the coronavirus kills millions of Americans, prompting one Democratic congressman to essentially threaten to physically fight him.

Trump Jr. spoke to Fox & Friends on Friday and asserted that Democrats are using the coronavirus crisis to try to hurt President Trump, claiming they "seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they can end Donald Trump's streak of winning." He added this is a "new level of sickness."

Not long after, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) appeared on MSNBC and certainly agreed with that last part, though not in the way Trump Jr. meant. When asked about Trump Jr.'s comment, Garamendi warned, "He should not be near me when he says that. There would be a serious altercation. That is just totally outrageous."

Later, Garamendi again said, "Don Jr. had better not get any place close to me. It would not be a healthy situation." He also clarified that Democrats are not, in fact, wishing for millions of deaths. Brendan Morrow

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