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December 5, 2018

On Tuesday's Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon suggested he and Saoirse Ronan tap into their Irish heritage and re-create an Irish pub lock-in to sing in the Christmas season. As luck would have it, they did not opt for the dated duet "Baby, It's Cold Outside," choosing instead the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York," a nod to both Ireland and their shared home town. Fallon channels Shane MacGown, Ronan takes the part sung by Kirsty MacColl, the Roots provide the carousing musical backbone, and there is Guinness and good cheer.

You can read more about "Fairytale of New York" in Michael Brendan Dougherty love letter to the unlikely Christmas modern classic at The Week. Peter Weber

December 3, 2018

Alan Dershowitz, a prominent legal analyst who frequently defends President Trump on TV, was part of a high-powered legal team that secured a remarkably lenient 13-month county-jail sentence for well-connected financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, the Miami Herald reported last week. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state counts of soliciting prostitutes, one of whom was 14, but he was under FBI investigation at the time for running what the Herald describes as a sexual pyramid scheme involving girls as young as 13 recruited to massage him, then have sex.

The highly unusual 2007 federal non-prosecution deal was kept sealed, and Dershowitz and Epstein's other lawyers reportedly helped write it with Miami federal prosecutors, primarily Alexander Acosta, now Trump's labor secretary. On Saturday, Dershowitz, 80, told Axios that Epstein "has called me a couple of times about legal issues, because I'm still technically his lawyer. ... But I haven't had any social, or any other kind of contact. ... You never stop being a person's lawyer."

One of the women who accuses Epstein of sexual predation, Virginia Roberts, also said in a court document that through Epstein, Dershowitz had sex with her several times when she was 16, a charge Dershowitz denies and likened to extortion. Dershowitz told Axios that when Epstein lent his family his Palm Beach house one week, "I had a therapeutic massage with an old old Russian," but he'd had no idea "anything improper had even taken place in that house."

You can learn about the members of Epstein's legal team, including Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and other figures in Epstein's address book, like Trump and former President Bill Clinton, in a Miami Herald interactive report and this video:

Roberts also told her story to the Herald, and it contains some descriptions of sex acts.

You can read more about the Epstein case at the Miami Herald, and watch a synopsis of their reporting in a disturbing 12-minute mini-documentary. Peter Weber

November 27, 2018

Jesse Watters turned to Geraldo Rivera on Fox News Monday evening for some criticism of the non-Fox News media's coverage of U.S. Border Patrol agents using tear gas against migrants, including children, on the Mexico side of the U.S. border Sunday. Instead, he got a lecture on Fox News' coverage of the migrant caravan.

"Fulfilling my role as the designated piñata on Fox News, I want to say I am ashamed," Rivera said on The Five. "This tear gas choked me. We treat these people, these economic refugees, as if they're zombies from The Walking Dead." He noted that many of the Central American migrants arrested Sunday were mothers with children. "These are not invaders," he told Watters, and his network. "Stop using these military analogies. This is absolutely painful to watch. We are a nation of immigrants. These are desperate people," and "they walked 2,000 miles" for service and agricultural jobs, not to "rape your daughter or steal your lunch."

If Watters was surprised by Rivera's response, he wouldn't have been if he'd read Rivera's Twitter feed.

Four Border Patrol agents were hit with rocks Sunday thrown by migrants upset at not being allowed to apply for asylum, according to the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, but all were wearing protective gear and none suffered serious injury. Peter Weber

November 7, 2018

President Trump repeatedly berated a black reporter for asking him "such a racist question" during a press conference Wednesday after she inquired about his campaign emboldening white nationalists. PBS NewsHour's Yamiche Alcindor was unable to finish her sentence before Trump interrupted her for being "racist."

"Why do I have my highest poll numbers [with African Americans?]" Trump went on after Alcindor asked for his response. "That's such a racist question. Honestly? I know you have it written down and you're gonna tell me — let me tell you, that's a racist question."

Alcindor responded to the president afterwards on Twitter:

Watch the startling exchange below. Jeva Lange

September 27, 2018

It can be difficult to take a song closely associated with a particular artist — Frank Sinatra's "My Way" or "Fly Me to the Moon," or Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" — and make it your own. But Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste's arrangement of George David Weiss and Bob Thiele's "What a Wonderful World" will almost make you forget the song belongs to Louie Armstrong, or forget to care. More to the point, Batiste wants you to remember that the planet Earth is "a beautiful place to be" and that it's important to "take time to reflect and love yourself," especially when life turns especially ugly. If you happen to be facing one of those days, consider this a short musical amulet, a respite from the unpleasantness, if only for five and a half minutes. Peter Weber

September 7, 2018

After about two hours of conversation and sipping Old Camp whiskey on comedian Joe Rogan's live podcast Thursday night, Tesla founder Elon Musk accepted what Rogan said was marijuana wrapped in tobacco and took a nice long toke. "I mean, it's legal, right?" Musk asked. His friends were apparently watching the YouTube feed. "I'm getting text messages from friends saying 'What the hell are you doing smoking weed?'" Musk said after his phone started vibrating a few minutes later. "I'm not a regular smoker of weed," he added, telling Rogan that he "almost never" smokes it because "I don't think it's very good for productivity."

Things got a little heady after that, with Rogan suggesting Musk terra-farm Mars and "turn it into a big Jamaica," and Musk saying it would be "sad" if "we were forever confined to Earth." And then Musk started talking about his brain. "When I was 5 or 6 or something, I thought I was insane," he told Rogan. Compared with other kids, "it was clear their minds weren't exploding with ideas all the time," he added. "I don't think most people would like to be me."

Tesla's investors and shareholders were already concerned about Musk after an aborted attempt to take the company private, odd behavior on Twitter, and a maudlin interview with The New York Times in which his friends also expressed concern about his workaholism and use of Ambien. Tesla shares dropped 1.4 percent in trading before U.S. exchanges opened, Bloomberg reports. If you have two and a half hours to spare, you can watch the entire interview for yourself. Peter Weber

August 8, 2018

There's been a lot of legal drama in U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis' federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, this week as Rick Gates testifies against Paul Manafort, his former business partner and former campaign manager for President Trump. But there's also been the human drama of Gates flipping on and incriminating his mentor and friend. This could be the stuff of Oscar-worthy Hollywood cinema or Greek tragedy, but The Late Show turned it into a parody of the Friends theme song.

The Manafort trial is not being televised, but Stephen Colbert's crew has actually been pretty creative with the Manafort set pieces. You can watch some other highlights below. Peter Weber

July 31, 2018

On Monday, CBS's board of directors said it's "selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation" of CBS chief Les Moonves, following allegations of sexual harassment from six women. "No other action was taken on this matter at today's board meeting." Stephen Colbert had a more robust response on Monday's Late Show. In his monologue, "I made a few jokes about my boss being in trouble," he noted. "And — are we still broadcasting? You know what? Don't tell me — I like a surprise."

This year of #MeToo reckoning has been objectively positive, Colbert said. "Because — and it's strange to have to say this — powerful men taking sexual advantage of relatively powerless employees are wrong. We know it's wrong now, and we knew it was wrong then," and we know this "because we know these men tried to keep the stories from coming out back then." What's going to happen with Moonves? Nobody knows, he said. "In a situation like this, I'd normally call Les."

"For so long, for women in the workplace, there was no change, no justice for the abused," Colbert said. "So we shouldn't be surprised that when the change comes, it comes radically," with powerful men banished from public life. He said he doesn't know what will happen at CBS, "but I do believe in accountability. And not just for politicians you disagree with. Everybody believes in accountability until it's their guy — and make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair, he stood behind this show while we were struggling to find our voice, he gave us the time and the resources to succeed, and he has stood by us when people were mad at me. And I like working for him. But accountability is meaningless unless it's for everybody, whether it's the leader of a network or the leader of the free world." Watch below. Peter Weber

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