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Ronan Farrow on NBC backlash for firing Gabrielle Union: These are the 'consequences'

No Comments National News

The View(NEW YORK) — Amid the firing of “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union, investigative journalist Ronan Farrow said of his former employer that the public can see “what happens when you sweep these kinds of problems under the rug.”

Union, who was newly hired for the 14th season of the NBC show, will not be not returning for the upcoming 15th season. Her contract was not renewed after a season in which there were several issues that she was involved in, according to allegations reported by Variety last week.

In one of the incidents, sources alleged to Variety that comedian Jay Leno had joked about a painting featuring dogs, saying that they were something you’d find “on a menu at a Korean restaurant.” Union allegedly urged producers to report the quip on the basis that it was insensitive and had offended staffers of Asian backgrounds.

Variety also reported that Union and longtime “AGT” judge Julianne Hough — whose contract also wasn’t renewed for season 15 — often received “excessive notes” on their appearance. One of those notes allegedly informed Union that her frequently changing hairstyles were “too black” for the “AGT” audience.

Farrow guest co-hosted “The View” on Tuesday, where he responded to the latest “AGT” allegations.

“It’s no secret that I’ve done a bunch of reporting on a number of media companies,” Farrow began. “It is thanks to some very brave sources, including a lot of whistleblowers within NBCUniversal.”

“It is very clear that source after source is saying there is a systemic cultural problem with this kind of toxicity at NBC,” he said, adding that the problem can be seen “across the board” at other networks.

Farrow went on to say: “I think we’re seeing the consequences of what happens when you sweep these kinds of problems under the rug.”

NBC and series producer Fremantle issued a joint statement to ABC News about the Variety report:

“‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” the statement said. “The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”

NBC, Fremantle and Syco Entertainment also released a follow-up statement on the report:

“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the statement said. “We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”

A spokesperson for Jay Leno did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Union has yet to publicly comment on the Variety report, but on Wednesday, she posted a message of gratitude on Twitter.

“So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU!” she wrote. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”

Union also received an outpouring of support from fellow celebs, including from actress Ellen Pompeo and radio personality Howard Stern, who co-host Abby Huntsman pointed out is influential enough for people to listen to what he says.

“We are still at a cultural moment where…we just don’t listen to women enough,” Farrow said in response to Huntsman.

Co-host Sunny Hostin questioned why complaints like Union’s aren’t sent to the highest levels of corporate governance.

“There can be an extra layer of resistance to change when you either have a board that is stocked with people who will protect those guys in powerful positions, or you have a family-owned company, which is the case with Comcast, which owns NBC and NBCUniversal,” Farrow said.

Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill” is about his reporting on stories that helped fuel the #MeToo movement, included allegations that NBC had multiple non-disclosure agreements with women who had alleged sexual misconduct by former “Today” show host Matt Lauer.

In a memorandum to NBC News staff released in October, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim said that, contrary to Farrow’s assertions, “there is no evidence of any reports of Lauer’s misconduct before his firing, no settlements, no ‘hush money’ – no way we have found that NBC’s current leadership could have been aware of his misdeeds in the past.”

Oppenheim asserts that “Farrow’s effort to defame NBC News is clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind. It is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines, and outright inaccuracies.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Puppy named Narwhal with tail on his forehead adopted by founder of Missouri organization that rescued him

No Comments National News

Rochelle Steffen(NEW YORK) — A “perfectly healthy” rescue puppy with a surprising physical feature that makes him extra special has now been adopted by the founder of the organization who made him famous

Narwhal, the 10-week-old furball who has a small tail-like growth on his forehead, was adopted by Rochelle Steffen, the founder of Mac’s Mission — a nonprofit dog rescue that predominately helps pups with special needs

Steffen told ABC News last month that they found the adorable light brown dog, thought to be a dachshund and beagle mix, at a dump site in rural Jackson, Missouri, where she said “hundreds” [of dogs] have been dumped.

“He had x-rays and a vet visit … and is a perfectly healthy puppy, with an extra tail on his face,” Steffen said. “There is no medical need to remove it currently and it is a third the size of his actual tail.”

“He is in no pain and plays for hours,” she added.

A few weeks after the story went viral, Steffen has now decided to house the dog herself.

“I had no intention initially of keeping him,” Steffen told the Southeast Missourian. “It’s not just a decision from me. The whole rescue cannot fathom him leaving. We all fell in love with him.”

Steffen told the outlet that the rescue organization received hundreds of applications from people who wanted to rescue the dog, but decided that the dog is no longer for sale.

She also feared the dog might be exploited.

“If somebody is going to make money off of him, I would love to see it go toward the rescue, and save thousands more dogs,” Steffen said, adding that she plans to train Narwhal as a therapy dog.

Mac’s Mission focuses on helping dogs with deformity, clefts and trauma “since those get euthanized far more than any others and there is a great need to give them a chance,” Steffens told ABC News. “We give them that chance.”

Because the nonprofit’s life-saving efforts are strictly grassroots through social media, Steffens explained that Narwhal’s story getting so much attention has been “majorly epic for so many new folks to find out about our little awesome rescue.”

“We really love our little Narwhal and the others he is helping here with the attention!”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"Run, Run Rudolph": How Chris Janson did some running of his own to be on tonight's 'CMA Country Christmas'

No Comments Country Music News

ABC/Mark LevineTonight, Chris Janson brings his frenetic energy to ABC’s CMA Country Christmas special, turning in a dynamic performance of the Chuck Berry classic, “Run, Run Rudolph.”

“I said, ‘Man, I want to do mine like Chuck would do it,'” he tells ABC Audio. “So it’s gonna be rock-and-roll. Loud raucous guitars, and I’m putting my twist on it by bringing the harmonica.”

“And it’s just been a lot of fun,” he continues. “I’ve been hearing it my whole life. You just never really know exactly what the lyrics are saying, particularly until you dive in. So I hope I can serve some justice to the songwriters and to the artist, Chuck Berry.” 

If you wonder why the “Good Vibes” hitmaker is only doing one song during the two-hour special, the reason is simple. The same night CMA Country Christmas was recorded at Nashville’s Belmont University, Chris was also headlining a sold-out show at the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown.

Tune in to watch Chris, along with host Trisha Yearwood, plus Lady AntebellumDierks BentleyRascal FlattsChris YoungBrett Young and a whole lot more, when CMA Country Christmas premieres at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

US Marine arrested on charges of smuggling undocumented immigrants across southern border

No Comments National News

iStock(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) — A U.S. Marine was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday on charges of smuggling undocumented immigrants across the southern border outside of San Diego, according to the Marine Corps.

“On December 2, 2019 at approximately 1:30 a.m., a junior-enlisted Marine with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel for allegedly bringing in undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro port of entry,” the Marine Corps said in a statement. “The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody. The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

The Marine Corps said that the Marine arrested on Monday had not served as part of the Trump administration’s southwest border support mission. CBP and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are currently investigating the incident, according to the Marine Corps.

The San Ysidro port of entry is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere, processing an average of 70,000 northbound vehicle passengers and 20,000 northbound pedestrians per day.

The arrest follows the detention of 23 Marines also from 1st Marine Division who were detained in July for human trafficking, drug distribution, and weapons charges. Of those, six have pleaded guilty to charges at courts-martial, according to the service.

“Thirteen Marines submitted and have approved pre-trial agreements requesting separation in lieu of courts-martial or waiving administrative separation boards,” the Marine Corps told ABC News in a statement.”The remaining four Marines are currently in the process of being adjudicated.”

The Marines charged with human trafficking this past summer were alleged to have moved undocumented immigrants from locations within the U.S., not across the border.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ousted Chicago police superintendent responds to mayor's decision to fire him

No Comments National News

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Chicago’s ousted police chief broke his silence on Tuesday, a day after the city’s mayor revealed that he’d been fired over “ethical lapses.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday, less than a month before he was scheduled to retire, accusing the top cop of misleading city officials and the public after officers found him asleep in his vehicle in October.

Johnson acknowledged on Tuesday that he made a “poor decision and had a lapse of judgment” on that October night, an incident he previously blamed on a problem with his medication. Johnson said he had pulled over because he was feeling light-headed, later falling asleep.

He called it “a mistake,” but maintained that he did not “intentionally mislead or deceive the mayor or the people of Chicago.”

“I know in my heart that I have always tried to act in a way that is in the best interests of the great city,” Johnson said in a statement, noting that he had no interest in fighting for his reputation. “Reputations are not built in a day and not damaged in a day either.”

“I will simply rely on the reputation for integrity that I think I have earned during my long career, with the faith that we should all be judged by the entirety of our lives and not on what happened on our worst days,” he added.

An official briefed on the probe into Johnson’s conduct told ABC News that during the traffic stop in question, the superintendent showed his police ID when asked to present identification. The officers apparently didn’t recognize Johnson immediately. Once the superintendent showed ID, he and the officers exchanged some words, and Johnson said he was OK to drive away. The cops let him, raising questions about why Johnson wasn’t given a field sobriety test.

Lightfoot said an inspector general’s report, which hasn’t been released publicly, showed Johnson exhibited “flawed decision-making.”

“It has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable,” Lightfoot said in statement Monday. “Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17.”

“Had I known all the facts at the time,” she added, “I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.”

ABC News’ Stephanie Wash and Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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