Monthly Archives: May 2017

Alec Baldwin’s Trump Gets Skewered Again By ‘Lester Holt’ On ‘SNL’

For those who wanted to re-savor NBC?s Lester Holt?s gotcha? interview with Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin provided a second oh-so-delicious chance in the cold open on ?Saturday Night Live.? Only this time it was even more distilled essence of Trump.

?Thank you for having me here, jazz man,? Baldwin?s Trump tell?s Michael Che?s Lester Holt (also called Tupac, O.J. and Kenan by the ?president?). ?Well, first  all I can just say is, I won the election fair and square, everyone knows that!?

Che begins by grilling ?Trump? on firing FBI Director James Comey.

?I fired him because of Russia,? Baldwin admits. ?I thought, ?He?s investigating Russia. I don?t like that. I should fire him.??

?You?re admitting that? But that?s obstruction of justice,? Che responds, asking the audience gleefully: ?Did I get him? Is this all over??

Then he hears from a manager through his earpiece: ?No I didn?t?? he asks. ?Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore?? 

After a two-scoop ice cream treat from bubbly ice-cream man Paul Ryan (?beat it, nerd,? Baldwin tells him), Trump denies that he is anything like Richard Nixon. But differences fade when he mimics Nixon?s two-handed victory gesture as Trump emphasizes his two scoops of ice cream.

Trump pats himself on the back for ?letting Kellyanne out of the crypt? last week and concedes he might be a ?serial tape-ist.? He also has an interesting definition for ?priming the pump? before Melania comes to bed ? to which Holt responds: ?Ew.?

But getting back to reality TV, Holt asks Trump to promise he won?t pick someone ?crazy like Judge Judy? to replace Comey.

Baldwin answers: ?I can promise you this right now, whoever I chose is going to be so bonkers you?re going to wish like hell it was Judge Judy.?

?Your presidency is like the craziest show on TV,? Che tells him.

?The show is going to run for eight years ? even though it should have been canceled months ago,? Baldwin concedes. ?We have plenty of fun plot twists coming up. A lot of your favorite characters will be coming back … Kim Jong un, Carter Page … I don?t want to give away too much, but in an upcoming episode we will find out that Kellyanne has been dead this whole time.?

?Holt wraps up: ?On behalf of everyone, I just want to say I can?t believe you?re president.? 

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This College Is Exploring Beyoncé And Black Womanhood With ‘Lemonade Week’

Beyoncé?s ?Lemonade? is still serving lessons in black womanhood.

That?s why James Arnett, an English professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is dubbing the week of April 3 ?Lemonade Week? at the college. From Monday to Thursday, the university will host daily events to discuss the topics explored on the visual album, such as the ?lives, loves and pain of black women.? The event will also use Candice Benbow?s ?Lemonade: The Syllabus? to guide discussions.

Arnett told The Huffington Post that inspiration for the week came after he and a colleague hosted a lunch discussion on the visuals and lyrics in ?Formation.? The room was packed during the lunch and Arnett decided to take it a step further.

Even a year after its release, Arnett believes ?Lemonade? is still relevant. 

?Thinking back on 2016, it was the text that felt, and still feels, like a rebuttal to the politics that were evolving,? he said. ?The Super Bowl performance was a lightning rod and Rorschach test for the political horizon. Besides, it?s just a great piece of art ? beautiful music and evolution from Beyoncé as an artist, showing new range and affect, and showing her off in her best collaborative moments.?

?Lemonade Week? events will feature professors analyzing the different areas of feminism and womanism, performances by a drag queen, English and theater students showing off their work, a reader?s salon to celebrate black women writers and a ?Formation? choreography lesson.

All events are free, except Thursday?s dance class, and open to the public.

?The week takes its time to celebrate Beyoncé and other groundbreaking black women,? Arnett said. ?All in all, I think we were responding to the zeitgeist and trying to meet our students with thoughtful, intellectual content where they already enjoy themselves.?

Beyoncé?s latest visual album earned its way into college curriculum before. In September, University of Texas at San Antonio began offering a class on ?Lemonade.?

View the full list of ?Lemonade Week? events here.

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Michelle Obama Is Rocking Her Natural Hair And The Internet Can’t Even

The gates of heaven opened and Michelle Obama popped up on timelines in rare form on Sunday night.

Twitter user @meagnacarta shared a photo of Obama rocking her natural hair in a low puff and gray polka dot headband, presumably wearing the purest grade of shea butter. 

It?s not confirmed exactly where the former first lady is or when the photo was taken ? though Barack Obama is currently writing his memoir in the French Polynesian islands ? but that didn?t stop Twitter from having a damn fit. Many social media users noted that they?ve been waiting for this natural hair moment for the longest. Others reveled in the glow of Obama?s melanin. 

Sentiments were reminiscent of when Obama was spotted on vacation with her husband rocking the cutest braids shortly after the 2017 inauguration. 

In a 2015 interview with The Root, Obama?s hair stylist Johnny Wright said Obama has been natural for several years. He said if Obama did abandon a fresh press for her ?fro, it would possibly be during vacation.

Obama has kept a busy and relatively low-profile life since leaving the White House in January. She?s made a couple of surprise visits to students at Washington, D.C. schools, signed a major book deal with Penguin Randomhouse and just living life enjoying museums, restaurants and SoulCycle.

Live your best life, Michelle.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise Owners Reportedly Settle After Serving Man Fake Butter

A Massachusetts man has apparently reached a settlement with two Dunkin? Donuts franchise owners after the chain reportedly served him a butter substitute instead of the real thing.

Jan Polanik filed a class action suit last month against the owners of more than 20 Dunkin? Donuts locations in Boston, saying he asked for butter on his bagels but got an artificial spread instead, The Boston Globe reports.

Polanik?s attorney, Thomas Shapiro, told the Globe the issue might seem like ?a really minor thing,? but said his client sued for the sake of other consumers.

?The main point of the lawsuit is to stop the practice of representing one thing and selling a different thing,? Shapiro said. ?It?s a minor thing, but at the same time, if somebody goes in and makes a point to order butter for the bagel … they don?t want margarine or some other kind of chemical substitute.?

The details of the settlement were not revealed publicly.

Attorney Ryan Cunningham, who said he represents both Dunkin? Donuts owners, declined to confirm the settlement or provide other details to The Huffington Post on Monday.

A corporate spokesman for Dunkin? Donuts told HuffPost on Monday that the company is aware of the settlement and has different butter options in place.

?The majority of Dunkin? Donuts restaurants in Massachusetts carry both individual whipped butter packets, and a butter-substitute vegetable spread,? the spokesman said by email.

Polanik?s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

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One Of The White House’s Biggest Obstacles Just May Be Itself

As President Donald Trump?s administration tries to push his agenda, one of its biggest stumbling blocks is turning out to be the White House?s own press office.

Trump is known to be obsessed with public perception and reportedly takes time every day to watch White House press secretary Sean Spicer give his daily briefing. Yet the first weeks of Trump?s administration have been filled with stunningly basic blunders that have distracted from the White House?s message.

There are growing pains whenever a new press operation takes over and new staffers get used to working with each other, said Stu Loeser, who served as press secretary to then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for over six years. Still, he said, the new team needs to recognize that even the smallest errors can create a distraction.

?If you?re talking about spell-checking, fact-checking and batting back questions of plagiarism, you?re not talking about the economic populism that drove your boss to the White House and how he?s making the country and the economy better for the American people,? Loeser said. ?If you shape up the quality … it lets you talk about what you want to be talking about.?

Earlier this month, the White House blasted out several media stories praising Trump?s first budget proposal,. One of those pieces had this apparently positive headline: ?Trump?s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.? But somebody missed that the Washington Post column was, in fact, satirical.

The opening lines written by Alexandra Petri make this overwhelmingly clear:

?Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too vague and makes all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds. These people are wimps. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has called it a ?hard power budget,? which is, I think, the name of an exercise program where you eat only what you can catch, pump up your guns and then punch the impoverished in the face. This, conveniently, is also what the budget does.?

In early March, the White House congratulated Exxon Mobil on a new expansion with a statement containing an entire paragraph copied and pasted from an Exxon Mobil press release. The ripoff was especially noteworthy because the oil giant?s former CEO, Rex Tillerson, now serves as secretary of state.

While some of the mistakes are small, even the tiniest errors from the White House can undermine the credibility of the president. Meredith Bohen, a former fact-checker for the Obama White House, wrote in January that she and her colleagues were charged with making sure that even the smallest details announced by the White House were accurate, down to the number of Bo and Sunny cookies served at the White House holiday party.

?Most of the time, the work of fact-checking felt like a necessary part of upholding the integrity of both President Obama and the office of the presidency as a whole,? Bohen wrote in Vox. ?Day after day, my coworkers and I came into work, sat down at our desks, and vetted the president?s words for accuracy. That?s part of what makes the institution of president of the United States strong, one that the American people can trust.?

It doesn?t help when other parts of the Trump administration follow the White House?s looser ways.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency sent out a press release featuring praise of the presidents?s executive order on climate change. The release was supposed to lead with a quote from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who was present when Trump signed the order, describing it as a campaign promise kept.

Not only was Capito?s name spelled wrong, but the quote attributed to her was actually from Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a major critic of the executive order.

The EPA apologized for the error and said they are ?making sure that our process is improved as we build our team.?

Getting the details right is not the president?s only communications problem. The Trump administration has stepped on its own message on more than one occasion.

On Feb. 28, the president gave a well-received address to Congress. But instead of enjoying the media glow, the White House almost immediately had to deal with the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during his confirmation hearings, had failed to disclose prior meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sessions was forced to recuse himself from any investigation into ties between Trump?s campaign and Russia ? a decision that reportedly infuriated the president.

Days later, without any evidence, Trump tweeted that then-President Barack Obama had wiretapped him. The explosive allegation, which FBI Director James Comey and others have said is untrue, created weeks of distraction for the White House, which has stood by Trump?s claim.

Similarly, at a bipartisan meeting with senators in February, held to garner support for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Trump chose to reiterate his belief that there was widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire last year. Again, there was no evidence for his claim.

A lot of stumbles in the Trump administration?s messaging come in the simplest form: typos, often in the president?s tweets. In early March, it took three attempts for a tweet from the @realDonaldTrump account to spell the word ?hereby? correctly.

Trump?s team has struggled with its visual messaging as well. While the president is quick to play to the cameras while signing an executive order or making a speech, these events often feel overly staged. The Trump administration has failed to capitalize on the power of more candid photography ? as the Obama administration did so well.

In January, the White House hired Shealah Craighead, who previously worked for the George W. Bush administration and for Sarah Palin?s 2008 vice presidential campaign, as its chief photographer. But so far Craighead has released no photos to the public.

A message can also be sent in the way that the press operation is run, Loeser said. For example, the communications team for Bloomberg, who like Trump ran on his reputation as a successful businessman, sought to ensure that reporters always had access to basic planning materials.

?The most important way we found we could drive coverage that showed that Mayor Bloomberg was an effective, no-nonsense manager who was running the city well was to serve reporters as if they were clients, with quality and consistency,? Loeser said. ?Things as ordinary and boring as the daily schedule, getting it out consistently on time.?

The Trump press operation, by contrast, repeatedly leaves reporters in the dark. During the transition period, Trump went out on multiple occasions after his team had told the press there would be no more activity that night. Press aides have refused to identify the president?s weekend golfing partners. Spicer has even shut some reporters out of press gaggles. All that tends to enforce the idea that the president is hiding something.

As for Trump?s impulsive habits on Twitter and elsewhere, Loeser said his press team should find a way to explain why those habits are actually beneficial for the country.

?If you can?t change something about your boss, you need to shape a broader narrative that takes advantage of what could otherwise be a weak point,? Loeser said. ?If you can?t change your boss directly engaging with reporters, then you need to build that into part of a more positive persona ? that he is data-driven and fair or that he?s concerned about the details.?

That may not be the precise way to go with Trump, but you get the message.

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