Anderson Cooper New Year's Eve

2021 has already brought good news: A Barbara Walters impression can still team up with tequila shots to turn Anderson Cooper into a beautiful, hysterical mess.


Keep Reading Show less
TV Features

This Haunts Me: Wolf Blitzer Crashing and Burning on Celebrity Jeopardy

Because sometimes the people in charge of keeping us informed are morons.

Celebrity Jeopardy has been a source of comedy since Will Ferrell first donned a fake mustache on SNL in the 1990s.

The idea of placing people whose main qualification is looking nice in front of a camera in a format designed to pit trivia nerds against each other is fundamentally silly. The skills that make you a good late-night talk show sidekick have nothing to do with having a wealth of trivial knowledge at your fingertips. Of course there are some exceptions. When one of the contestants is among the most prominent news anchors on television (tasked with curating current events for millions of people who trust him to have the requisite education and understanding to place those events in context), you have to assume he has a certain advantage over the likes of Andy Richter—whose job is just to make Conan O'Brien seem funny.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture News

Donald Trump's "Shooting" Tweet Is Not Okay—Regardless of the Minneapolis Protest/Riot/Revolution

His language threatens to escalate tensions while Twitter continues to enforce their standards

Shortly after midnight Friday morning, Donald Trump tweeted a message that would prompt the second instance of Twitter "censoring" him for a violation of their policies.

In this case his use of the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts"—in reference to the riots that have taken hold of Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's death—was deemed to be "glorifying violence," and the Tweet was hidden. Twitter's decision was based in part on the phrase's connection (intentional or otherwise) to 1960s Miami police chief Walter Headley, who made the phrase famous in conjunction with the statement, "We don't mind being accused of police brutality. They haven't seen anything yet."

Keep Reading Show less
CULTURE

CNN Is Poison to the Progressive Politics of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

The interests of corporate media are incompatible with a true left movement.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

In Iowa on Tuesday night, CNN hosted a debate among Democratic candidates for the president.

Measures were taken to thin out the crowded field of contenders, leaving just six hopefuls to share the stage. But for many voters there were only two candidates who really mattered.

Since the weekend, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been embroiled in a petty conflict stirred up by anonymous sources and divisive hashtags. The only progressive candidates on the stage—who held to a truce for so long—have now been framed as enemies by the disputed content of a private conversation that took place more than a year ago.

Bernie was on the Defensive in the First Debate of 2020 | NowThis www.youtube.com

Did Bernie Sanders say, in 2018, that he didn't think a woman could win this election? Bernie denies it while Elizabeth Warren stands by the leaked account. Meanwhile, all of their exchanges are subject to a level of scrutiny that isn't healthy for anyone involved. People have been freaking out about the way moderator Abby Phillip ignored Bernie's denial, immediately following it up by asking Warren, "What did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?" Likewise, the fact that Warren didn't accept Bernie's handshake was fodder for outrage.

Twitter is the environment where Sanders' most die-hard supporters hold sway, and they have poured their effort into hashtags like #NeverWarren, #LyingLiz, and #WarrenIsASnake. For many Warren supporters who backed Clinton in 2016, the whole mess carries echoes of vicious attacks against Hillary and the sense that female candidates are held to a higher standard and treated to harsher punishment than their male competitors.

The question of whether the people spreading these hashtags hold sexist views is beside the point. They play into a perception that the Sanders campaign belongs to so-called "Bernie Bros" and to a brand of exclusionary sexism that disguises itself as moral outrage—yet always seems to be directed with extra vitriol toward women.

Bernie Sanders has given no indication that this is the kind of messaging he wants his supporters to be spreading. It doesn't benefit him. As he said of the drama during the debate, "This is what Donald Trump, and maybe some in the media, want." Sanders knows that if he—or Warren, or any progressive candidate—has a chance of overcoming the corporate media-backed centrists who want to quash any hint of real reform, it will only be with the unified support of every progressive demographic. If Bernie's stated mission of "justice for all" means anything, he won't want to alienate voices that advocate for feminist perspectives—nor can he afford to let his supporters do it for him. So the competing hashtag among Warren supporters, #BelieveWomen—borrowed from the #MeToo movement—represents a serious problem for him, as well.

So far this drama has only served to turn these groups of supporters against each other. Warren can't win if voters who prioritize economic justice have decided she's a "snake," and Sanders can't win if people who prioritize women's rights think he's a sexist. But there is another trending hashtag that both groups might be able to get behind: #CNNIsTrash.

The control of political news by a handful of massive corporations is a serious threat to our democracy. The interests of those corporations and their financial backers are fundamentally aligned against progressive movements, and Bernie Sanders' recent surge in the polls made him a particular target. Once it was clear that their efforts to ignore him had failed, CNN and the other media empires made up their minds to use every line of attack they could find.

Throughout the debate, CNN consistently phrased questions and ran chyrons that framed Bernie's stances in the most negative possible light. It's easy enough with issues like increased spending and free trade—where the line of attack is already established—but what they were really desperate for was something that would split the left and trigger progressive in-fighting. Bad blood, left over from 2016, already had some potential to pit feminists and "brocialists," but then Elizabeth Warren's campaign gave them a gift.

The anonymous hearsay, and then the confirmation from Warren, were guaranteed to reopen old wounds and retrench the familiar factions that she supposedly wanted to avoid. The only two options that are being treated seriously are the suggestion that Sanders is a sexist or that Elizabeth Warren is a traitor. There's no real consideration for an error in communication or an imperfect memory of events on either side. So far, so good as far as CNN is concerned. The drama is good for their ratings, and a centrist president is good for their tax burden.


Media ownership

If Warren and Sanders want to move past this controversy and cement the kind of progressive unity they will need if either of them hopes to win, then they need to cut the corporate media platform out of the equation entirely. There is no debate, no segment, no panel discussion that can heal these wounds as long as CNN or any other corporate media empire is hosting. Sanders and Warren have to meet on their own terms to have a public conversation about their shared vision, their shared values, and what they think and believe about sexism in politics and in the United States writ large. A live-streamed summit.

If done right, they might be able to piggyback on the attention being paid to all this hateful drama, and find a way to repair the damage that's been done—to pull us all away from the destructive tendencies that consume our politics. Fortunately, there may be hope for that outcome. Tom Steyer was not just the random billionaire who bought his way onto the stage Tuesday night, he was also the random billionaire awkwardly standing in the background as Sanders and Warren spoke to each other in the aftermath of the debate.

Missed handshake

The tension in the exchange was palpable even from the distance of that wide shot. But Steyer was right in the thick of it. After Warren left Sanders' extended hand hanging, the two exchanged a few words and some stern looks while Steyer hovered nearby. He has claimed not to have been listening, but he did say, "They were talking about getting together or something." Let's cross our fingers that they do so soon—preferably before the Iowa Caucuses.

Only the two of them—without the interference of Twitter noise or media bear-poking—can sort this mess out. If they do get together to resolve their issues, and gift the country a symbol of restored unity, there might be some hope left for this election, and for the future of our nation.

CULTURE

The Warren-Sanders Feud Is a Threat to the Future of America, and the World

They need to put their differences aside if either of them hopes to win

Getty Images

In a recent interview with New York Magazine Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commented that "in any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America we are."

With consistent cries for party unity since before presidential candidates even began announcing their campaigns, it would be tempting to attack Ocasio-Cortez as splitting the party, but she is absolutely right. There is only a unified party to split on paper. America's winner-take-all style of voting forces disparate political interests to share a title and to pool donors—unless they have the ability, like AOC, to source their own funding.

AOC Bernie Sanders Getty Images

The GOP has used this to their advantage, emphasizing social wedge issues like abortion and immigration to pull working-class white voters away from their economic interests on the left—convincing them to cheer on tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy. For the Democrats, however, the powerful faction of the party that represents professional-class interests—the private-public partnership, means-testing, social-program-cutting wing—has represented a barrier to participation for truly progressive candidates and voters.

That's why it has been heartening, prior to this week, to see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren avoiding the temptation to attack one another. While many of Bernie's supporters online have adopted toxic attitudes toward anyone other than their preferred candidate, and many Warren supporters have questioned Bernie's feminist bona fides (particularly in light of that toxicity from many "Bernie Bros"), the candidates and their campaigns seemed largely cordial and supportive of one another. It's important, as the marginalized left-wing of the party, to focus on commonalities and mutual aid if there is going to be any hope of overcoming the powerful centrist forces that have ruled the party and served moneyed interests with only moderately less zeal than the Republican party.

Sanders Warren Truce Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

That shared effort began to fall apart on Saturday night when Politico ran a story under the headline "Bernie Campaign Slams Warren as Candidate of the Elite." The story included excerpts from a document purported to be circulated within the Sanders campaign, with scripts instructing volunteers how to attack rivals in the Democratic primaries. While criticisms of Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are hardly surprising, the attacks on Warren—noting that her supporters are predominantly educated, affluent voters who "who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what"—came as a surprise in the context of the candidates' established alliance.

Skepticism in these cases is usually warranted, but the article contained little to suggest that the content was anything less than official and approved by Bernie Sanders himself. By the time Sanders came forward to repudiate the document and deny its official status, the damage was done. The rift was already beginning to widen.

Warren responded that she was "disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me," and she sent out a fundraising email that asked both for donations and for supporters to share personal stories and perspectives to contradict the framing of her base as elitist. If that had been all, then it might have been easy to move on and return to a mutually supportive stance within a few days. But the real damage was done when people close to Warren, perhaps in an effort to retaliate, spoke to CNN about a private conversation the two had in 2018.

Back then, the thought of actual voters making actual choices seemed distant and abstract, and the candidates sat down to discuss strategies against Trump and to establish the general truce that has held until now. Everyone involved seems to agree on those points, but differing reports emerge when it comes to the topic of gender. As CNN reported, Warren laid out her strengths as a candidate: "She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters." Bernie was not on the same page.

According to anonymous members of Warren's team, Bernie didn't think a woman could win. Bernie shot back with his own version of events, saying, "It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win... What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016." When Warren herself was finally convinced to weigh in directly, she urged people to move on, claiming that she was more interested in what she and Sanders agree on… But she also confirmed the more inflammatory version of events: "Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed."

While there is certainly a conversation to be had about to what extent America remains too sexist to support a female candidate, it seems like a stretch to accept the idea that, in 2018, Bernie would hold such a categorical view against the possibility of a woman being elected president. What makes it particularly questionable is the existence of footage from a C-SPAN appearance three decades earlier, in which Bernie says, "In my view, a woman could be elected president of the United States. The real issue is whose side are you on? Are you on the side of workers and poor people, or are you on the side of big money and the corporations?"

bernie c-span C-SPAN

The suggestion that Bernie's views have become more regressive since 1988 seems far-fetched. The inclusive, forward-thinking persona he has consistently presented to the public for 40+ years doesn't line up with this supposed private view. Then again, the idea that Warren would simply lie about Sanders' comments seems equally unlikely. Who you believe seems to depend largely on who you prefer, and the two camps seem to be moving further from each other as the Iowa Caucuses close in. On one side, Bernie Sanders is a sexist; on the other, Elizabeth Warren is a liar.

Without a recording or a transcript of the conversation, it doesn't seem quite justified to land in either of those camps. Without third-party witnesses, the basic facts of who did and who said what can quickly dissolve. The message that was intended and the message that was received crystallize in each person's mind to the point that they become irreconcilable. Perhaps Bernie did think that a progressive man was better poised than a progressive woman to counter Donald Trump's brand of populism in the 2020 election. Maybe his way of saying so was so clumsy that Warren took it as a broad statement about the viability (or lack of viability) of female candidates, and she recounted it as such to people close to her. Short of calling either of them a liar or worse, that is the best I can muster—a version of events that I prefer to believe in order to maintain my respect for both of these candidates.

Supporters from both sides will no doubt find this middle-ground unsatisfactory. The rift feels real right now, and it's starting to seem like each side is trying to undermine the chances of the other. But while only one candidate can win the nomination in the end, their support draws too much from the same pool of voters to allow this rift to remain. Already Bernie supporters who also donated to Warren are turning against her with the hashtag #RefundWarren. But the sad truth is that neither can win in the general election without support from the other's ardent fans. And who really stands to benefit from continued fighting? The center and the far-right. It can only help Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And Donald Trump seems to know it...

If Sanders and Warren can't each count on the other's supporters to get behind them as the primaries shake out, then Biden will likely hold onto his narrow lead. And if one of them does manage to get the nomination with this acrimony still hanging in the air between them, no amount of campaigning for one another is going to muster the sort of passion that we can count on to overwhelm Donald Trump in the general. 2016 should have taught us that much.

This feud needs to end now. Warren and Sanders need each other, and our country needs them. They are the only candidates taking America's economic divide seriously, and the only candidates willing to tackle climate change with the resolve and transformative action it requires. If Donald Trump gets reelected, he will continue to make both of these problems far worse, destroying hope for economic justice and a sustainable future. If Joe Biden is our next president, then we will go back to enacting middling, inadequate reforms—one step forward for every two steps back.

Hillary 2016 Hillary supporters as 2016 election results came inGetty Images

Warren and Sanders, united, represent our only real hope. Of course, they each believe that they are best suited to the job. They wouldn't be running otherwise. But if either of them is going to win, they need to come together, reaffirm progressive unity with one voice—acknowledging the differing accounts of events and decrying sexist limitations. Either of them can win this election, but neither can do it alone.

CULTURE

What Secrets Does Bill Murray Know About the ATL P.F. Chang's?

That It's the Illuminati Headquarters, Duh

Scrooged

Why does Bill Murray want to work at the P.F. Chang's in the Atlanta Airport?

In his recent appearance on Amy Schumer's podcast 3 Girls 1 Keith, Murray expressed his admiration for that specific branch of the "Chinese" restaurant chain, remarking that it's "one of the great places."

Trip Advisor

Anyone who's eaten at a P.F. Chang's can see the issue with this statement, and if you never have, you can simulate the experience at home with their range of microwaveable frozen meals. At best, it's an underwhelming pastiche of east Asian cuisine. At worst, it's an underpaid service job in the world's busiest airport. Is Bill Murray just being his wacky, random self, inserting himself into random contexts to the surprise and delight of strangers? Or maybe you think he was making some ironic commentary on the hellish existence of corporate service employment. No, no, and wrong. Bill Murray knows something that we don't about Concourse A of the Atlanta Airport.

Think about it. For decades, conspiracy theories have swirled around the Denver International Airport, which is supposedly a hub for the elite secret society known as The Illuminati. But why would this secretive organization make their home so obvious? One of the DIA's most notable landmarks is a 30-foot demonic horse that killed its creator. That is just way too on the nose. The only reason to mark your secret evil lair with such an ostentatious sign of evilness is if that's not your real evil hangout spot at all.

Thrillist

The DIA is just the distraction to keep us from looking too closely at the real evil airport. Bill Murray has given us the key. He didn't say that the P.F. Chang's there is a great place. He said it's "One of the Great Places." It's time to go full-on Jeff Goldblum-in-Independence Day and crack this conspiracy wide open.

The Symbol of Change Getty Images/iStockphoto

First, the evidence: Coca-Cola and CNN. I dare you to think of two organizations more aligned with elite global power than those. And where are they headquartered? New York? LA? Denver? No. They're both in Atlanta! We've already covered that Atlanta's airport is the busiest in the entire world, with more than 50 million travelers passing through each year. How else would you hide the dark, illicit activity of the Illuminati headquarters, if not through a constant flurry of human activity? ATL is also the hub for Delta Airlines—a famously evil company—and Delta is the triangular Greek symbol for change, as in: "the Illuminati uses the Delta Sky Club in Concourse A of the Atlanta Airport as the control center for changing the course of global events."

Next, Bill Murray. He does whatever he wants at all times and seems to be fully immune to cancellation. He's done some genuinely terrible stuff, yet the whole world loves to fawn over him. Is all that adulation just good will left over from Caddy Shack and other movies where he attempts to murder large burrowing rodents? Impossible. The only answer is that he controls his reputation as a member of the Illuminati, with access to all the Elite Powers and Great Places that membership entails.

And finally P.F. Chang's. Other than the fact that it's not the real name of any person ever, and must therefore stand for Powerful Forces (of) Chang(e), what's suspicious about this location in particular? How about the fact that it opens at 6:30 AM? Every other location I've found is closed before 11:00 AM. Who in the world wants to eat bad fake Chinese food pre-dawn? Not even bad fake Chinese people want that. There must be another purpose!

At this point the only explanation should be obvious, but I'll spell it out so the Powers That Be know that I'm watching them: The P.F. Chang's in the Atlanta International Airport contains a secret entrance into the Illuminati's subterranean headquarters, and Bill Murray was expressing his desire to move up in the ranks and gain access to the highest levers of power. We'll have to wait and see how Beyonce and Zuckerberg and Jonathan Taylor Thomas choose to respond.