- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2016

The comeback has begun. Brian Williams, the veteran anchorman who was suspended from NBC in 2015 for making false statements on the air, is returning to a regular nightly newscast on Tuesday.

Mr. Williams left the network for six months without pay last year, then quietly resurfaced on sister channel MSNBC to deliver political coverage once the presidential campaign got rolling, often paired with Rachel Maddow. Penance done, he now assumes a much larger role. “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” debuts at 11 p.m. EDT, featuring the anchor in a live half-hour recap of the day’s major political stories and election coverage.

“We want a broadcast that will feel like a continuation of the conversation we’ve had all during this unprecedented campaign season,” says Mr. Williams. “As the general election ramps up, there’s an opportunity to assess and discuss the campaign at the end of each day. With the help of the very best team in the business, we hope to offer some closure and sanity.”

Yes, well. Sanity aside, it is a pivotal time for MSNBC, which has pushed its way into second place in the great ratings war between cable news channels. Fox News remains number one across all viewers day and night, a position the network has held for 14 years. The audience typically tops 2 million people. MSNBC averages 1.1 million, CNN 844,000, according to the current Nielsen numbers.

Mr. Williams, 57, initially ran into difficulties in February 2015 after an internal investigation at NBC found he had exaggerated his experiences while reporting on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. “I said things that weren’t true,” he said in the aftermath.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Hill Force One”

— Instant press nickname for Hillary Clinton’s new campaign aircraft — a Boeing 737 that debuted Monday, complete with the Clinton motto “Stronger Together” emblazoned on the side in turquoise. Mrs. Clinton did face the inaugural press corps that had assembled for the maiden flight. The question she took: “How’s your Labor Day going?” No word, though, on who paid for the handsome aircraft, or if it’s simply a rental.

THE DIAGNOSIS

“Every time I think of Trump, I get allergic.”

Hillary Clinton, explaining her two-minute coughing fit during a campaign appearance in Cleveland on Monday. The incident commanded such attention that it earned a special hashtag on Twitter: #HackingHillary.  Yes, it did trend to No. 1 in some locales.

THE FASHIONISTA FUNDRAISER

Money-making event of note for Tuesday: the “Made for History Fashion Show and Rooftop Party” to benefit Hillary Clinton’s campaign, hosted by none other than her senior adviser, Huma Abedin, along with Chelsea Clinton, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and 17 major fashion designers.

The glittering group includes Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg; a performance by pop diva Demi Lovato will also be featured. Tickets run as high as $25,000 each.

“Details regarding what pieces designers will be showing at the event have yet to be disclosed, but fingers crossed for a runway filled with pantsuits,” observes Hollywood Reporter columnist Sam Reed.

Mrs. Clinton herself is not attending the event; she will be campaigning at the University of South Florida in Tampa instead.

Meanwhile, Tuesday marks the 276th day Mrs. Clinton has gone without a formal press conference, though she has organized 130 fundraisers during the same period, according to a count by the Republican National Committee. And it does pay: Mrs. Clinton raised $143 million in August alone.

THE OBAMA LEGAL LEGACY

Long ago and far away — make that about eight years ago — then-Sen. Barack Obama talked much about “hope and change,” promising he would transform America. Looks like the emphasis is on the change, however.

“After nearly eight years as president, he has delivered on one front by reshaping the federal judiciary. That revolution has been comprehensive, dramatic, and under the radar,” writes Philip Wegman, a congressional correspondent for The Daily Signal, an investigative news group organized by The Heritage Foundation.

“When Obama entered the Oval Office, liberal judges controlled just one of the 13 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Fifty-five successful presidential nominations later, liberal majorities now control nine of those appeals benches, or 70 percent,” Mr. Wegman continues. “Outside of legal circles the transformation of the influential federal appeals courts has gone largely unnoticed, though.”

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett tells The Daily Signal: “The Supreme Court grabs the spotlight, but it hears fewer than 100 cases a year, while the 13 federal courts of appeals handle about 35,000. More than one-third of the 179 judges on federal appeals courts owe their seat to Obama. That’s a legacy with a capital L.”

CORKER’S WARNING

A Tennessee Republican has a prediction about the global status of America following President Obama’s somewhat uneven trip to Asia.

“Just as we saw our allies in Europe dissing us over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations last week, China is now flexing its muscles in the South China Sea while we sit at the table with them; we can expect many countries to strongly position themselves against our interests in the coming months,” says Sen. Bob Corker. “They will take advantage of a nation that behaves like a ship with no rudder. If we have learned anything, it is that the absence of U.S. leadership emboldens rogue behavior across the globe.”

POLL DU JOUR

77 percent of U.S. parents say they are “required” to buy supplies for the classroom.

68 percent say they received a back-to-school supply list in July.

66 percent say they are likely to buy more than what’s required on the supplies list.

59 percent would be “happy” to buy more than what’s required to share with the classroom, if asked.

41 percent say they are asked to provide too much for the classroom.

$75.8 billion: Total amount U.S. parents will spend on school and college supplies this year.

Source: A National Retail Federation survey of 6,809 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 2-9 and released Aug. 19.

• Ballyhoo and balderdash to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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