Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday evening apologized to fellow former Fox News host Eric Bolling for mentioning the death of Bolling’s son while attacking the media for reporting on sexual harassment allegations.

Following a report in the New York Times over the weekend revealing that O’Reilly reached a $32 million settlement with a Fox News analyst who accused the former Fox host of sexual harassment and misconduct, O’Reilly has been on a tear. He has lashed out at the media, claiming that news outlets are out to get him.

He also criticized the media for hurting the families of those accused of harassment, bringing up the death of Bolling’s son — Bolling’s son died hours after Fox News announced Bolling would leave the network after sexual harassment allegations.

“I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper. Eric Bolling’s son is dead,” O’Reilly told the New York Times. “He’s dead because of allegations made — in my opinion and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling.”

Bolling quickly called out O’Reilly for bringing his son’s death into the situation.

“I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling,” he said in a statement to the New York Times.

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Megyn Kelly revealed Monday that she complained about Bill O’Reilly’s behavior to Fox News executives in 2016, criticizing the way the network handled harassment allegations against both O’Reilly and the network’s former CEO Roger Ailes.

The revelation on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” came after the New York Times revealed that O’Reilly paid a $32 million sexual harassment settlement in January, a few months before he was ousted from Fox News. Despite reports that he’d paid settlements to several women who accused him of sexual harassment, O’Reilly claimed that no one at the network ever lodged a formal complaint against him.

“In the more than 20 years Bill O’Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline,” an O’Reilly spokesman said over the weekend.

Kelly noted that while it’s possible no woman filed a formal complaint to human resources, she herself complained to executives about O’Reilly in an email she sent in November 2016.

“Fox News was not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience,” she said. “However, O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained.”

O’Reilly refused to discuss allegations against Ailes in an appearance on CBS News the day Kelly’s book was released, saying, “I’m not interested in, basically, litigating something that is finished, that makes my networks look bad.” Kelly said that interview prompted her to complain to Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, the co-presidents of Fox News.

Kelly said she wrote in the email at the time:

“Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment. Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that ‘it will disgrace the company’ is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with. Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than ‘I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.’”

Kelly recalled that Shine told her that he would deal with O’Reilly. However, O’Reilly went on air that same night to attack Ailes’ accusers, she noted.

“This is not unique to Fox News. Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear,” Kelly said.

The former Fox host also called out the media relations head at Fox News, who’s reported to retaliate against ex-employees who speak out against the network by orchestrating negative coverage in the press.

“At Fox News, the media relations chief Irena Briganti is known for her vindictiveness. To this day, she pushes negative articles on certain Ailes accusers, like the one you are looking at right now,” Kelly said.

Kelly did say that Fox News “has absolutely made some reforms since all of this went down” after calling out Briganti.

Asked about Kelly’s comments about O’Reilly and her complaint, 21st Century Fox replied Monday with a statement about its efforts to change the way the company handles harassment allegations.

“21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination,” the company said in a statement. “These changes come from the top, with Lachlan and James Murdoch personally leading the effort to promote civility and respect on the job, while maintaining the Company’s long-held commitment to a diverse, inclusive and creative workplace.”

21st Century Fox later followed up with a statement standing by Irena Briganti.

“Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support,” the company said in a statement.

Watch the clip via NBC:

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After Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, spoke out for the first time on Monday about her call with President Donald Trump, the President quickly responded on Twitter, claiming that he said her husband’s name on the call “without hesitation.”

During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Johnson said that Trump seemed to not remember her husband’s name on the call.

“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name,” she said. “And that was hurting me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”

Johnson also backed up Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of the call. Wilson said last week that Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” Trump has repeatedly accused Wilson of lying about the call, even though several people have confirmed her account.

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Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, a soldier killed in Niger earlier in October, spoke out in public for the first time since her husband’s death on Monday morning and confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of President Donald Trump’s call with Johnson.

Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Trump seemed to forget her husband’s name on the call and told her that her husband knew what he was signing up for, as Wilson told the press last week.

“The President said that he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyway,” Johnson told “Good Morning America.” “It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it.”

“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” she continued, adding that Trump only remembered Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s name because he had his report in front of him.

“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name,” she said. “And that was hurting me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry even more.”

Johnson told GMA that she asked for the phone to go on speaker phone while in the car with Wilson and others so that her family could hear the call with the President. Wilson then revealed to the press that Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.”

The President has repeatedly accused Wilson of lying, even after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly essentially confirmed the congresswoman’s account of the call.

Johnson told GMA that Wilson did not fabricate Trump’s comments on the call.

“What she said was 100 percent correct,” she said.

Johnson is also still looking for answers about her husband’s death and is upset that the military has not let her see her husband’s remains.

“I don’t know how he got killed, where he got killed, or anything,” she told GMA.

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In an interview about the Vietnam War taped last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared to criticize President Donald Trump for receiving a draft deferment for bone spurs during the Vietnam War.

The Arizona senator did not mention the President by name but specifically called out “high-income Americans” who got doctors’ notes for a “bone spur.”

“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,” McCain told C-SPAN in an interview that aired Sunday. “That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

Trump deferred the draft five times, four while he was in school and the fifth for bone spurs. He acknowledged in a 2016 New York Times interview that he visited a doctor who wrote him a letter for draft officials. Trump said that the bone spurs were “temporary” and “minor.”

“I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels,” Trump told the Times.

McCain served in the Vietnam War and was tortured as a prisoner of war. During the 2016 campaign, Trump suggested he did not believe McCain was a true war hero because he was “captured.”

Watch a clip of McCain’s interview on C-SPAN. He makes the comment about bone spurs at the 1:55 mark.

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A video of Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) speech at a 2015 FBI building dedication ceremony, taken by the Sun Sentinel newspaper and resurfaced on Friday, shows that the congresswoman did not brag about securing the funding for the building as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly claimed she had.

Kelly joined the White House press briefing Thursday to defend President Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier who was close to Wilson. In defending Trump’s comments to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, which Wilson said were hurtful, Kelly criticized the congresswoman for being present for the call and then speaking out about it.

He also brought up a speech Wilson gave in 2015 for the FBI building dedication, claiming that she bragged about how she “got the money” for the building and calling her an “empty barrel.”

Wilson called Kelly’s description of her speech a “lie,” noting that funding for the building had been secured before she ever took office and that she only helped to pass legislation naming the building after two slain FBI agents. The video from the Sun Sentinel appears to support Wilson’s version of events.

In the speech, Wilson describes how she and congressional leaders worked together to pass legislation to name the FBI building, after the starting the process just four weeks prior to the dedication ceremony at the agency’s request. She said it was a “miracle” that the bill passed both chambers and was signed by President Barack Obama in time.

She said that her effort and that of her colleagues who also pushed for the bill “speaks to the respect that our Congress has for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day.”

She then honored FBI agents gathered in the room, as well as the two special agents who died in a gunfight in 1986, Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, for whom the new building was named.

“We are proud of their sacrifice, the sacrifice for our nation. It is only fitting that their names be placed on the same mantel as the FBI,” she said in the speech.

Despite the release of the video, the White House stood by Kelly’s criticism of Wilson’s speech, again calling her an “empty barrel.”

“Gen. Kelly said he was ‘stunned’ that Rep. Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain FBI agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation. As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Wilson did not note in the speech that she lobbied Obama. She only said that he signed the bill quickly.

After the Sun Sentinel released the video, Wilson touted on Twitter the “proof” for her account of the FBI building dedication speech.

Watch the video of Wilson’s 2015 speech at the Sun Sentinel.

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Lara Trump on Friday backed up Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of President Donald Trump’s phone call to the widow of a fallen soldier, even as she said she believed the congresswoman and the press took a comment that Wilson said was hurtful to the widow out of context.

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt revealed during an interview on “Fox and Friends” that Trump, the wife of the President’s son Eric, had seen the transcript of the call. Trump described her father-in-law’s remark as coming during a broader comment on Sgt. La David Johnson’s commitment to serving his country.

“From what I have seen, this is a clear case of the media not doing their job. Whenever you read exactly what he said, he said ‘your husband went in to battle, you know, knowing that he could be injured, knowing that he could be killed and he still did it because he loves his country and he did it for the American people,'” Trump told Earhardt. “I can’t think of a better way, quite frankly, to express my gratitude to someone than by saying something like that. And yet they conveniently leave off the last part of what was said.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied to reporters on Friday afternoon that there is a transcript of the call. She said she believes Lara Trump “was responding to reports and things that she had read” and directed additional questions to the Trump campaign.

Wilson said this week that when the President called Myeshia Johnson, the soldier’s widow, he told her that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” Other people who heard the call confirmed that account, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly backed it up Thursday when he told reporters that he’d advised Trump to tell Gold Star families that their lost loved ones knew what they had signed up for.

While Lara Trump argued that the President’s comments were simply made public without the full context, her father-in-law launched a far less nuanced attack on Wilson. He has repeatedly accused the congresswoman of lying, even after Kelly essentially confirmed Wilson’s story.

Eric Trump also took part in the interview, calling criticism of his father’s comments to Johnson “disgusting.”

“I think it shows the absolute worst of politics,” he said. “Here is the President of the United States calling to express his condolences on behalf of an incredibly grateful nation, and people turned it into a political item. To me, it’s disgusting.”

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An impromptu remark from President Donald Trump on Monday that he would make an announcement next week declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency sent staff at the White House scrambling, as they were unprepared for such a move, Politico reported Friday morning, citing White House and agency officials.

“We are going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem and I want to get that absolutely right,” Trump said on Monday.

Staffers were “blindsided” by the comments, according to Politico. Administration staff had yet to agree on the process for implementing an emergency declaration, White House and agency officials told Politico. Administration officials told Politico that it’s also not clear when the emergency declaration could actually be announced or whether the administration even has the right staff in place.

Read Politico’s full report here.

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After White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Thursday afternoon offered a lengthy defense and explanation of President Donald Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen soldier, Trump yet again accused a Democratic congresswoman of lying about how the call went.

Kelly’s defense of Trump essentially confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of the President’s comments to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month.

Wilson said that Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for,” and Kelly told reporters that he told Trump to say something along those lines. Kelly’s lengthy explanation at the White House press briefing was an apparent attempt to end the feud between Trump and Wilson.

However, Trump disregarded Kelly’s comments and attacked Wilson on Twitter Thursday night:

Trump accused Wilson of “secretly” listening to the phone call. However Johnson likely knew that the congresswoman could hear the conversation, since the phone was on speaker while they were in a car.

The President and Wilson have been engaged in a back and forth since Wilson revealed Trump’s comments to Johnson earlier this week. Trump has repeatedly accused the congresswoman of lying, even though other people present for the call confirmed her account of Trump’s remarks.

Asked about Trump’s tweet on CNN Friday morning, Wilson said that she is focused on her constituents and what happened when Sgt. La David Johnson and other U.S. soldiers were ambushed by Islamic State-linked fighters in Niger.

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After White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Thursday afternoon criticized Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for her comments on President Donald Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen soldier and for her work naming a federal building in 2015, Wilson hit back, arguing that Kelly got his facts wrong.

Kelly made an impromptu appearance at the White House press briefing Thursday afternoon, where he defended Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for,” according to Wilson and others who heard the call. Kelly defended Trump’s comments and criticized Wilson for making the contents of the call public.

He then criticized Wilson over her role in the naming of a federal building, which was dedicated to two fallen FBI agents in 2015. Kelly said that during the ceremony, Wilson bragged that she “got the money” for the building.

However, Wilson told the Miami Herald that Kelly didn’t quite have his facts straight. She said that the money for the building had already been secured before she took office as a congresswoman, and that she only worked to name the building after the FBI agents.

“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson told the Miami Herald. “This has become totally personal.”

She denied mentioning funding for the building during the ceremony.

“That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me,” Wilson said. “That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn’t say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can’t say that.”

Wilson followed up on CNN Friday morning, accusing Kelly of lying.

“I feel sorry for Gen. Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can’t just go on TV and lie on me,” she said. “I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured. So that’s a lie. How dare he? However, I named the building at the behest of Director Comey, with the help of Speaker Boehner, working cross party lines. So he didn’t tell the truth, and he needs to stop telling lies on me.”

She also accused Kelly of making a “racist” comment when calling her an “empty barrel.”

A video released by the Sun Sentinel Friday with Wilson’s 2015 speech shows that the congresswoman did not brag about securing funding for the building. She talked about her effort, as well as the help she received from leaders in Congress, to rush legislation naming the building after two fallen FBI agents.

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