November 21st, 2013
10:13 AM ET

Palin Cancels Interview After Martin Bashir Comments

Sarah Palin canceled an interview with NBC's "Today" on Wednesday after MSNBC host Martin Bashir made incendiary remarks about the former Alaska governor.

Bashir apologized Monday for suggesting last week that Palin deserved graphic punishment for comparing the U.S. federal debt to China to slavery.

She made the comments during a speech in Iowa earlier this month.

"It's going to be like slavery when that note is due," Palin said, while noting at the same time that the comparison "isn't racist"

Reacting to Palin's comparison, Bashir ripped into the 2008 vice presidential nominee on Friday. He read excerpts from the diaries of Thomas Thistlewood, who wrote about the horrific treatment of slaves in Jamaica in the 18th Century–including a punishment that involved defecating and urinating in the mouth.

Bashir said that "when Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn't just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate."

After facing intense criticism for his comments, Bashir apologized Monday.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers and anyone who may have heard what I said," the MSNBC host said. "My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics. And they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said, and and at a place where we try every day to elevate political discourse and to focus on issues that matter to all of us."

Mediaite's Joe Concha  weighed in on "New Day" Thursday and said  "These are reprehensible remarks that have no place in public discourse."

Palin hasn't publicly reacted to the Bashir's initial comments or apology.

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Filed under: Interview • News • Videos
November 21st, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Possible Iran Nuclear Program Deal Could Be Close

As fellow American officials met with allied and Iranian counterparts in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that all sides are closer than they've been in a long time on a nuclear deal. But they stressed it hasn't been reached yet.

"It's important to exhaust the remedies and possibilities of diplomacy," Kerry said from Washington. "We have the best chance we've had in a decade, we believe, to halt progress and roll back Iran's program."

The prospect of an agreement that could roll back some punitive measures against Iran in exchange for measures assuring that the Middle Eastern country isn't developing a nuclear weapon has met significant resistance. Some in Congress have voiced opposition, saying leaders in Tehran cannot be trusted. It's a sentiment echoed by Israel leaders, who insist Iran's program should be entirely dismantled, reports CNN's Jim Sciutto.

"In Moscow, lobbying Russia to force a tougher deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the ongoing destruction of Syria's chemical weapons as a model. This sharp disagreement over Iran is causing deeper tension in the broader US-Israeli relationship,"  Sciutto says.

"Still, despite the split, administration officials maintain the two countries are on the same page when it comes to the final outcome."

Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, says negotiating with Iran is an important first step to establish trust "so as to obtain a more intrusive inspections regime." (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

"They have their own issues with us after decades of not having a relationship and so forth,” Powers says.

“They want to know we can also deliver on the back end of the deal. So we feel like we're getting a very good deal here, if we can secure this, which is to offer very modest, temporary and very reversible relief, in exchange for being able to see whether they're prepared to take that first step.”

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Filed under: About the Show • News • World News
November 21st, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Governors of Three States say Obamacare is a Success

Obamacare might be off to a slow start but it's starting to pick up steam, at least in states that are not using the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website.

For the past month, CNN has conducted a state-by-state survey to determine enrollment in the new insurance plans. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 133,257 people had chosen new insurance plans in the 14 states with their own signup apparatuses. Nearly half of them were enrolled in the past two weeks.

One of the biggest jumps is in California. Through November 2, 35,364 Californians had selected private plans through the new insurance marketplace. Less than two weeks later, the number was up to 59,000. The state with the second-highest enrollment is New York, where at least 24,509 have selected a plan. The next highest enrollments are in Washington state, Kentucky and Connecticut.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
November 21st, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Rule Change Vote Could Limit GOP's Ability to Block Nominees

Supporters of a move to end filibusters of presidential nominees picked up a key ally Tuesday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran California Democrat, says she has changed her mind and now supports using the so-called "nuclear option" – changing Senate rules over the objections of Republicans to prevent those filibusters. She said she has been persuaded to take the extraordinary step because the public is anxious to have Washington work and "you can't do it if the President can't get a cabinet, a sub-cabinet, judges, commissioners." Filibusters require 60 votes to set aside, a high hurdle in the narrowly divided Senate.

The longtime member of the Judiciary Committee said blocking nominees has "never been as bad as it is now" and blamed "politics" for the GOP-led filibusters of three recent nominees to the important District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

Feinstein made her decision known to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when he called her about the issue recently.

It's unclear if proponents now have the 51 votes necessary to change the rules. Reid refused to answer that question at a news conference Tuesday, and he didn't indicate whether he'd actually carry out the "nuclear option."

Typically, 67 votes are needed to make a change in the Senate rules.

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Filed under: News • Political Gut Check • Videos
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