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3 days ago · by · Comments Off on East Idaho News Secret Santa Giving Away $500,000 In Gifts This Year

East Idaho News Secret Santa Giving Away $500,000 In Gifts This Year

Every year, a Secret Santa brings joy to people in need in East Idaho through an anonymous donation and with the help of East Idaho News. The anonymous “secret Santa” has been giving out gifts to people in the East Idaho community for the last five years. This year, more than $500,000 will be given to area families. The news station created a program to nominate people that are in need. They are still seeking nominations for this year and they still have about $150,000 along with several cars left to give away.

It all started in 2015 when Nate Eaton, news director of East Idaho News, received a call from a person wanting to give away $100,000 in gifts to local people in need and the Secret Santa just needed the news site to find the people first. The idea was an immediate hit and their email server almost crashed from the number of nominations they received the first year. The program has grown rapidly since then and people love watching the gifting every year. They now have more than 33,000 followers on their YouTube channel.

Eaton wanted to be sure people know it’s not an organization or business giving the money away but a very generous individual. “Secret Santa looks for people that just need a break,” Eaton said. “They’ve run out of luck, they’ve run out of money, they don’t ask for a handout, they’re working hard, they have specific needs, [and] they just need something to get ahead in life.”

Families across the Eastern Idaho region have been fortunate to be the recipients of gifts from the mysterious and generous “Secret Santa,” who for the past six years has worked in secrecy. Since the “Secret Santa” is anonymous, Eaton has become the face of the entire operation. He’s the one showing up on doorsteps handing out the presents. “It is a local person here. I think if you were to meet him on the street, he might deny it,” said Eaton, who is the only one on his team who knows Santa’s true identity.

This year some gifts will be bigger than ever and will include money towards a prosthetic leg, a pickup truck and a 15-seat passenger van. “The key is you don’t want to have somebody receive a large gift and then [they] have to pay the taxes on it or any fees or things like that,” he explained of how it works. “So Secret Santa covers all of that. If somebody gets a car, the taxes have been paid for. The only thing the person has to pay is the registration and he gives them a check to take care of that.”

Film and production crews will go out to sometimes several places each day during November and December to hand out gifts. Sometimes those situations can be so heartbreaking or personal that East Idaho News elects to not air the footage from giving the gift away.

“The people that maybe you haven’t read about in the news, but have quietly suffered for years and years that don’t think they’ll ever get a break—this might be their year when they can know someone is thinking about them and they can get a gift that will actually change their life,” the news director explained. To nominate someone (you can’t nominate yourself) for the Secret Santa program, you just need to fill out an application on their website.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Neighbors Rally To Help Farmer

Neighbors Rally To Help Farmer

When 57-year-old Lane Unhjem suffered a heart attack while trying to put out a fire on his farm, he never imagined how quickly his rural community would rally to help him. One of his combines, which harvest crops, caught fire while he was working his farm in Crosby, North Dakota. Unjjem had a heart attack while working to put it out and was airlifted to Trinity Medical Center in Minot, North Dakota where he is in critical condition.

Close family friend, Jenna Binde, wanted to organize a group to help out on the farm while Unhjem was recovering. Binde and two local farmers began to organize a harvesting event, but she actually had to do very little to rally the troops. Farmers started calling and asking if they could help,” she said. “Within two hours of him being flown out of Crosby, I had over half the equipment and people already lined up.”

Binde said locals who knew she was close to the Unhjem family reached out to her — she never had to call anyone herself. On September 12, 60 volunteers showed up to the Unhjem farm, bringing 11 combines, six grain carts and 15 semis with them. “We live in a pretty rural area, so anyone within 10 miles can be considered a neighbor. Most were within 10 miles but others traveled farther than that because they are good friends with the Unhjems and wanted to pitch in.”

Most of the volunteers were farmers or their farm hands, she said. Unhjem already had his peas harvested before his heart attack but the group spent over seven hours on his durum wheat and canola crops. “The volunteers that came that day did more than just volunteer their time. They all had their own fields to still harvest but they selflessly put that behind them and made the Unhjems a priority that day.” Binde said. “The family is super thankful and it saved them a lot of headache and frustration of trying to figure out how they would get their crops off without Lane or a combine,” she said. “It was a pretty remarkable day and I was so happy to be a part of it.”

Binde said she didn’t think the gesture was a big deal. “This is just what we do around here when someone in our community is in need of help. What seems completely normal and natural to us here, unfortunately isn’t the case across the nation. I hope others read this story and forget about all the turmoil going on currently and just remember to lend a hand when needed and expect nothing in return. If we could all just do that, we’d be in a better place.”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Sexual Assault Advocate Daisy Coleman Commits Suicide

Sexual Assault Advocate Daisy Coleman Commits Suicide

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Daisy Coleman, a high school sexual assault survivor who was featured in the documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” has died at the age of 23 by suicide. After announcing her death, Daisy’s mother Melinda wrote, “She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.” Daisy’s sexual assault prompted her to become an advocate for sexual assault victims and she co-founded the non-profit organization SafeBAE, which was aimed at preventing sexual assault in schools.
The Coleman family have suffered tremendous loss over the years far beyond Daisy’s sexual assault at a party in 2012. Melinda’s husband and father to her four children, Dr. Michael Coleman, was killed in a car crash in 2009, then Daisy’s younger brother Tristan died in a car accident at the age of 19 in June 2018 and now the loss of Daisy. The family had originally moved to the small town of Maryville from Albany, Missouri in 2009 after Michael Coleman’s death in hopes of making new and better memories than those the town of Albany held. Instead, they found themselves at the center of a sexual assault case that shocked the nation. Daisy and her friend were invited to a party in January 2012 where they became heavily intoxicated and both were sexually assaulted.
After the assault, Daisy was left intoxicated on her porch in 22-degree weather with no shoes or socks; when her mother found her she had frostbite. Sheriff’s deputies arrested two teens within hours and charged them with felonies. Matthew Barnett, a 17 year old high school senior and the grandson of former state representative Rex Barnett, was arrested for the rape and sexual assault of Coleman, who was 14 at the time. A 15-year-old boy was accused of doing the same to the girl’s 13-year-old friend Paige, and a third boy admitted to recording Barnett’s alleged assault on a cellphone. The video which was never retrieved by law enforcement, was deleted after reportedly being passed around the school.
The identities of alleged sex assault victims are generally not published, but Coleman’s family decided to go public with her identity and accusations. According to the Coleman’s, the torrents of hatred came only days after the case went public and the case divided the community. All four children experienced intense bullying and threats. Melinda Coleman, a veterinarian, lost her job because the case had become too contentious for the local veterinary clinic that was also the subject of threats. Mrs. Coleman says her three sons – Daisy’s brothers – were threatened at school and booed on the field – often by boys they had counted as friends’ just weeks earlier. Daisy became the target of daily bullying in school and was suspended from the cheerleading squad. She was hounded on social media, called a skank and a liar, and urged to kill herself, which she tried to do multiple times.
The relentless bullying prompted the family to move from Maryville back to Albany, Missouri. Shortly after moving, the family’s house in Maryville that they were trying to sell mysteriously burned to the ground 8 months after the moved. The case caught national media attention in October 2013 when the Kansas City Star reported that prosecutor, Robert Rice, dropped the rape charges – citing insufficient evidence. The state at the time appointed a special prosecutor to re-investigate the case, which ended in Barnett pleading guilty to the misdemeanor of charge child endangerment on Jan. 9, 2014. Barnett and his attorney maintain that the sexual encounter was consensual and the fact that two independent investigations have cleared him proves that he didn’t do anything wrong that night except for leaving Coleman outside in the cold. Daisy’s friend Paige’s rapist confessed and was convicted in juvenile court, after Barnett was convicted in adult court on the lesser charge of child endangerment during the 2nd investigation.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Minneapolis Investigating Unnamed Umbrella Man

Minneapolis Investigating Unnamed Umbrella Man

 

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Minneapolis police have issued an arrest warrant for a suspect known as “Umbrella Man” who was filmed smashing the windows of an auto parts dealership on May 27, two days after the police killing of George Floyd.  Video of the “Umbrella Man” went viral after protesters in Minneapolis confronted and filmed him while he was in the act of smashing several windows of an AutoZone store.  Investigators say the man is a white supremacist who sought to provoke violence against protesters.  The term “Umbrella Man” was coined on social media as people guessed at his identity, with some protesters speculating he was actually a member of the police force.

According to a search warrant, the man is associated with the “Aryan Cowboys,” which the Anti-Defamation League lists as a White supremacist prison and street gang. The warrant does not label them as a White supremacist group, but describes them as a “known prison gang out of Minnesota and Kentucky.”  A Minneapolis arson investigator wrote in the search warrant affidavit that the man also spray painted the words “free sh*t for everyone zone” on the doors of the AutoZone. Not long after he smashed in the windows, looting began, and a bit later the AutoZone was set on fire, the affidavit said.

“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Sgt. Erika Christensen, wrote in the affidavit.  “Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”

Police identified the 32-year-old suspect through a tip last week but the suspect has not been named. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told the Associated Press he could not confirm the name of the person involved, but said the investigation remains open and active.  The tipster told the investigator that the man was a member of the Hells Angels biker gang who “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing what he did on the double red doors.”  Police matched him to photos a Muslim woman took when she was harassed during an encounter with the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, while eating burgers with her young daughter in Stillwater in June.

The riots spread to other parts of Minneapolis and led to Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct burning down, and according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, resulted in $500 million in property damage.  At least two people died — one a man who was fatally shot at a Minneapolis pawnshop and another man whose burned body was found in the ruins of another pawnshop.

Protests against police brutality and systemic racism continue in cities across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death.  The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn tens of millions into the streets to participate in protests taking place every day since May.  The protests have been plagued with violence from the start.  They continue to push for police reform and an end to systemic inequalities around race.  It has led to radical reform in recent months in many states and the faces of those they continue to seek justice for continue to change as more police shootings occur.

 

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Army Confirms Remains Are Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillen

Army Confirms Remains Are Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillen

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The family of Vanessa Guillen, the 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier who has been missing since April 22, says military investigators have positively identified her remains. The remains were found last week in a shallow grave near the Texas Army base. The Army said that one suspect, Cecily Anne Aguilar, was in custody in connection with Guillen’s disappearance.  A second suspect in the case, Specialist Aaron David Robinson, took his own life in Killeen, Texas, as officers approached him.

Guillen was reported missing on April 23 and her car keys, identification card, bank card, and barracks key were found inside the armory where she worked.  Her family felt Guillen disappeared under suspicious circumstances.   The case was investigated under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Bell County Sheriff’s Office.  They began searching the area and SPC Robinson was interviewed for the first time on April 28.

On June 19, Aguilar is interviewed for the first time and the remains of another missing soldier, Pvt. Gregory Morales, were found outside Fort Hood during the search for Guillen.  The remains were left in a field near the 3200 block of Florence Road in Killeen. Morales had been missing since August 2019 and was listed by the Army as a deserter.  Robinson left his post on June 30 and shot himself in the head as police tried to make contact with him along a roadside in the early morning hours of July 1st.   CID interviewed Aguilar a second time hours after Robinson killed herself and she helped lead investigators to the remains of Guillen.  She admitted that he picked her up from her job and in the early morning hours of April 23, showed her the body of Guillen, admitting he bludgeoned her on base.

Army investigators told the family Guillen was beaten to death with a hammer in the armory building where she worked before being removed from the base.  According to her family, Guillén had been planning on reporting Robinson for sexual harassment.  Aguilar admitted that the two dismembered the body and attempted to burn the remains before placing them in two separate holes.  They returned and continued dismembering the remains to better conceal the murder.  Aguilar is being held in custody while the criminal investigation continues. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison. She is expected back in court on 14 July, when bail could be considered.

Guillen’s family has called for a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood base. They allege that she was harassed by someone in her unit. Her sister, Mayra Guillen said last week she believed her sister was afraid during her time on the base.  Officials have said they have no report to indicate she was sexually harassed or assaulted. Major General Scott Efflandt said the army would “complete the ongoing investigation into sexual harassment and take action against those findings” at the base, in addition to the investigation into Guillen’s murder.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Three Officers Charged In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Continue

Three Officers Charged In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Continue

 

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Protests against police violence continue across the country as many cities have imposed curfews. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have activated their National Guards, with nearly 80 localities implementing curfews in response to the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.  Protests largely remain peaceful during the day but by night, protests turn to riots.  At least 9,300 people have been arrested across the US during protests.

Protesters across the US and globe keep gathering to march, some shouting slogans including “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd told the Minneapolis police officer who had a knee on his neck in a bystander’s video of the incident.  Others have gathered to lie face down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.  In many cities, just before the 8 p.m. curfew begins, police begin shooting tear gas, flashbang grenades and rubber bullets at demonstrators in an attempt to disperse crowds.

In Houston, Texas, 16 members of George Floyd’s family joined a crowd of 60,000 protesters who marched to City Hall to remember Floyd, who spent most of his life in Houston before moving to Minnesota in 2014 for a fresh start.  His family urged protestors to continue to fight for police reform and equality by protesting but said rioting is not the way to fix this.  Chauvin and Floyd both worked security at the same night club with together with Chauvin working outside security and Floyd working inside the bar.  Former coworkers of the two said they bumped heads over Chauvin’s aggressiveness with patrons of the club.  Floyd’s family believe George’s death was, in part, personal.

Two separate autopsies confirmed Floyd’s death was a homicide.  George Floyd’s memorial service was planned for Thursday in Minneapolis, and his funeral was scheduled for next Tuesday in Houston.  Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed charges against all four Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.  A charge of second-degree murder was added against Officer Derek Chauvin, who was already facing a third-degree murder charge.  The other three officers present were charged with aiding and abetting the murder. Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were arrested with bail set at $750,000 each.  Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz said the state’s Department of Human Rights has opened a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

Many wonder how we got here or believe the arrest of all four officers involved should quell the protests but George Floyd is not the only person protestors seek justice for.  Protestors say Floyd was just the last straw in a growing list of black people that have been killed with no charges for the officers involve or charges being filed months after, only after protests start.  News media coverage of the protests has been largely bias and focused on reports of looting have marred the message peaceful protestors want to make.  Social media sites like tik tok or youtube can give the world a more factual account of what goes on during these protests in every city by those that are actually there and countless videos show protestors stopping the looters, chasing them off or handing them over to police.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on George Floyd Protests

George Floyd Protests

 

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Protests erupted in Minneapolis, Minnesota after video footage of the death of George Floyd, 46, went viral. Floyd died after being arrested by police outside a shop on May 25th on a report he used a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods, a grocery store. The video shows now fired police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck while he was laying on his stomach in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back. Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying “Please, I can’t breathe, please, please officer don’t kill me” for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Officer Chauvin held him pinned to the ground with his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.
In the video of the incident, a bystander tells the police: “You got him down. Let him breathe.” After Floyd says, “I’m about to die,” Chauvin tells Floyd to relax. The police ask Floyd: “What do you want?” Floyd repeats: “I can’t breathe.” Floyd continues: “Please, the knee in my neck, I can’t breathe.” The policemen taunt Floyd to “get up and get in the car,” to which Floyd replies: “I will… I can’t move.” Floyd also cries out: “Mama!” He then says “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts,” and requests water. The police do not audibly respond to Floyd. Floyd begs: “Don’t kill me.” A bystander points out that Floyd is bleeding from the nose. Another bystander tells the police that Floyd is “not even resisting arrest right now.”
The day after Mr. Floyd’s death, the Police Department fired all four of the officers involved and the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the criminal complaint against him. Video show that Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness and for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene. Floyd’s last words have been compared to those of Eric Garner who uttered the words “I can’t breathe” eight times before he died while being placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo in July 2014.
Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints over his 19 year career as a police officer with 2 resulting in disciplinary actions. Chauvin has been the subject of several internal complaints as well. George Floyd and fired police officer Derek Chauvin knew each other before the fatal encounter. Chauvin worked outside security at a bar for 17 years while Floyd worked security inside the bar. Floyd grew up in Houston Texas and 13 years ago in 2007 he was charged with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston In 2009 he was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents. In 2014 he moved to Minneapolis looking for work and a new start. Videos he posted on social media while under stay at home orders show him denouncing violence and encouraging his community to find another way.
While the protests started in Minnesota, they quickly spread across the globe. Demonstrators gathered in London, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Syria, Brazil, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand, among other places, to protest against police brutality in solidarity with the US crowds. Demonstrators have gathered in the thousands in many major cities worldwide. Many protestors remain peaceful but their message has been marred by the violence, looting and vandalism taking place in cities across the US.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Canada Bans Assault Rifles After Nova Scotia Shooting Spree

Canada Bans Assault Rifles After Nova Scotia Shooting Spree

 

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Canada is banning military-style assault firearms, including the AR-15, two weeks after a gunman in Nova Scotia killed 22 people during a 12-hour rampage — the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. A domestic assault late Saturday night is suspected to be the catalyst of the Nova Scotia shooting rampage that left 22 people dead. The rampage began in the quiet town of Portapique on Cobequid Bay began after the gunman assaulted his longtime girlfriend. Police said Gabriel Wortman, 51, led police on a miles-long manhunt across the Canadian province. He died after a confrontation with police. He was wearing a RCMP uniform and drove what appeared to be a police cruiser.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the ban he said “We are closing the market for military-grade assault weapons in Canada. We are banning 1,500 models and variants of these firearms by way of regulations. These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Families of the victims deserve more than thoughts and prayers.” Family and friends of the victims have said that an emergency alert by police could have prevented some deaths. Police on Wednesday admitted that they failed to issue a timely alert to the public. Police learned about the gunman’s attire and vehicle from his girlfriend after 7 a.m. but the formal process for issuing an alert still took several hours to make its way up the chain of command. Nearly three hours after they learned the identity of the suspect, an alert had still not been issued. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the failure to issue an alert would be part of a larger investigation.
Police believe a domestic assault triggered the shooting spree. The couple returned home after arguing at a nearby party shortly before 10pm, where Wortman attacked his girlfriend and she fled into the woods to hide. Wortman then set his house on fire and returned to the party where he opened fire, killing seven people. The first 911 calls reporting gunshots were made at 10:01pm. When officers arrived on the scene at 10:26pm, they discovered thirteen victims who had been shot and killed both inside and outside of eight homes on Orchard Beach Drive and Portapique Beach Road, three of which were burning. Police said many had died while trying to escape the flames or in helping other victims. Wortman also shot and injured two dogs.
Police initially believed the killings were confined to the area and ordered a lock down. But the rampage, which spanned 16 locations, continued, with the gunman killing nine other people over several hours, police said. Wortman’s injured girlfriend emerged from the woods several hours after the first shooting deaths, just after 7am Sunday. She is still recovering from serious injuries but provided police key information about the gunman including a description of him, that he was impersonating an officer and a possible list of targets.
During his rampage, Wortman arrived at a home of acquaintances and killed the two occupants, as well as a neighbor who came to help. After setting the house on fire, police say he pulled over two vehicles and killed the occupants. He also shot and killed a woman walking along the road. Sometime before 10:49am, Wortman pulled alongside RCMP Constable Chad Morrison’s cruiser on Route 2 in Shubenacadie. Morrison had planned to meet fellow officer Heidi Stevenson at that location. Wortman shot into the car, injuring Morrison, who drove to a nearby hospital after reporting Wortman’s location.
As Wortman fled the scene, he collided head-on with Stevenson. Stevenson engaged Wortman, who shot and killed her, before taking her sidearm and ammunition. He also set both cars on fire and killed a nearby motorist who stopped to help. He then stopped at the home of a woman he knew and killed her before stopping for gas. Wortman was recognized by a RCMP officer at the gas station and was fatally shot.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chris Matthews Resigns Amid Sexual Harrassment Allegations

Chris Matthews Resigns Amid Sexual Harrassment Allegations

 

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Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews has resigned after a string of recent controversies and accusations of sexual harassment. Chris Matthews’s show, “Hardball,” has been on the air since 1997. Matthews’ departure was “mutually agreed” upon by both Matthews and MSNBC, a network spokesperson said.  A series of interim hosts are expected to fill his role until MSNBC finds a replacement.

 

Journalist Laura Bassett published a piece recounting Matthews’s inappropriate comments to her when she was a guest on his show in 2016.   As she was having her television studio makeup applied, Matthews purportedly asked her: “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” Bassett claims that when she laughed nervously, and said nothing, Matthews followed up to the makeup artist with: “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.” 

 

Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. ‘You going out tonight?’ he asked. I said I didn’t know, and he said—again to the makeup artist—’Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this,'” Bassett also wrote.  “I’m pretty sure that behavior doesn’t rise to the level of illegal sexual harassment,” she added. “But it undermined my ability to do my job well. And after I published a story about it, even though I didn’t name him, dozens of people reached out to say they knew exactly who it was.”

 

In December, 2017, details surfaced of a 1999 settlement Matthews’ employer, CNBC, reached with a female producer of Matthews’ program who alleged Matthews made inappropriate comments about her in front of colleagues in the workplace.  More recently, Matthews compared Bernie Sanders’s primary win in Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France and received backlash for being condescending during an interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren, in which he repeatedly questioned her over claims that fellow presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg and his company have a history of mistreating women. 

 

When announcing his departure, Matthews said “Let me start with my headline tonight: I’m retiring,” the Northeast Philly native said at the start of his show. “This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics. As you can tell I’ve loved every minute of my 20 years as host of ‘Hardball.  “The younger generations are improving the workplace,” he said. “We’re talking here about better standards than we grew up with — fair standards. A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other, compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men — including me — might have once incorrectly thought were okay were never okay. Not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”

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