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Todays Top Livestream | Hurricane Florence
9/18/2018 2:00pm

NFL Week 3 Power Rankings: Rams are new No. 1 … and chaos below

We’re on to Week 3, and a new team reigns supreme in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings: After blasting the Cardinals 34-0, the Rams take the top spot. But don’t fret, 0-2 teams, everyone still has a reason to be optimistic this early in the season. So where do the other teams fall in behind the Rams? And what is the ray of hope for your team?

The ESPN power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluated how all 32 teams stack up. Enjoy.

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Agent says Antonio Brown doesn’t want trade from Steelers
Jeremy Fowler | ESPN Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown does not want to be traded by the Steelers and was not with the team Monday because he was dealing with a personal matter, his agent said Tuesday.

Brown got into a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner during Sunday’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and responded ‘Trade me let’s find out’ to a former Steelers staff member who tweeted Brown wouldn’t be the same player without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

‘Trade me,’ Steelers’ Brown responds to critic
Antonio Brown lit up Twitter on Monday with his response to a former Steelers public relations staff member who was critical of the wide receiver’s importance to the team’s offense.
“The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows,” said Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent. “It was not directed toward a trade, or wanting to be trading. It was a personal response to a former Steelers employee who insulted him. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate. Secondly, yesterday he had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, anything you see between AB and the coaches, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That’s all that that is. That’s not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that’s what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is meeting with Brown on Tuesday to discuss his absence and other issues surrounding the All-Pro receiver.

“I’m looking forward to visiting with him today and discussing (the absence) and some other things,” said Tomlin during his weekly news conference Tuesday. “I’m not going to get into the details of why he wasn’t here or whether or not he was excused. I just assume leave those things in-house. I understand sometimes you have some negativity. We lost a football game. There were some negative exchanges on the sideline. That’s frustrating, associated with not playing well and not winning. I understand all that. There are opportunities for us to respond to it, particularly in the early portions of the year, to utilize negative experiences that occur to educate our team at this point in the journey so it becomes a non-factor as we move forward.”

Asked if Brown actually wants traded, Tomlin chuckled and said, “no.”

Brown was not in the locker room or part of the walkthrough Monday, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported Brown didn’t show up at all.

Brown’s ‘Trade me’ tweet was his second social media flare-up in as many weeks. On Wednesday, Brown publicly apologized for a tweet threatening ESPN senior writer Jesse Washington about a profile titled ‘Antonio Brown is an Instagram All-Pro. But is that the full picture?’

Tomlin said he won’t comment directly on player happenings on social media, which features “gray area” and “very little accountability,” but he made clear players should be held to a higher standard.

“It’s important that we understand our position, the light that shines on us and the responsibility that comes with it,” Tomlin said. “It’s been a couple of instances now where you’ve asked me about Antonio regarding some social media-like things, I’ll address that and address that very directly with him, but I will leave that between he and I. I won’t utilize this forum to address such things. I just don’t’ believe it’s appropriate. I believe this forum is a very professional one.”

Asked if he’s tired of Brown being the same player he’s asked about repeatedly regarding social media issues, Tomlin bristled, then pointed to his team’s 0-1-1 record heading into a Monday Night Football matchup with the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’m focused on real legitimate things. Seriously,” Tomlin said. “We gave up a few big plays, we’re playing a team that’s big-play capable. We haven’t won a game yet. Those are the real things.”

On his weekly radio show Tuesday, Roethlisberger said he doesn’t believe Brown wants to be traded but plans to speak to his receiver Wednesday. Tuesday is considered an off day for the team.

Brown and Roethlisberger have connected for an NFL-record five consecutive 100-catch seasons together, and Brown currently leads the NFL with 33 targets, resulting 18 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown.

But Brown and Roethlisberger appeared to have a miscommunication on a third-and-goal in the final minutes against Kansas City, and Brown walked off the field by himself after Roethlisberger’s fourth-down touchdown scramble while the rest of the offense celebrated in the opposite end zone.

“I think it’s just frustration,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to be the best in the world and he probably is. I think he was getting frustrated and he took it out on some people. I give Randy a lot of credit not losing it on him.”

Todays Top Stories and Opinions | Fox News
9/25/2018 11:00am

Kavanaugh hearing once again in question as Christine Ford raises new concerns
By Brooke Singman | Fox News

An attorney for the woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago has raised fresh concerns about the format for Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing with her and the Supreme Court nominee.

The letter raising those issues once again could throw into doubt the scheduled hearing, which has been the subject of ever-changing negotiations since Christine Blasey Ford first went public.

In the message, sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley late Monday and obtained by Fox News, her attorney took issue with apparent plans for an outside counsel to ask questions — as well as fiery comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accusing Democrats of a “smear campaign.”

“We are finding it difficult to reconcile your letter and [staff member Mike Davis’] note with the Majority Leader’s speech this afternoon on the Senate floor. As Dr. Blasey Ford has been clear since her experience was first made public, she came forward because she believes it is her civic duty to tell the truth about the sexual assault she experienced,” wrote Michael Bromwich, her attorney and a former Justice Department inspector general.

“You said in your letter that you intend to provide a ‘fair and credible’ process … Yet earlier today, the Majority Leader dismissed Dr. Ford’s experience as a ‘smear campaign,’ claiming mistakenly that the witnesses’ statements to the Committee constitute ‘a complete lack of evidence,’ implying that there has been a thorough investigation,” the letter read.

KAVANAUGH BREAKS SILENCE IN FOX NEWS INTERVIEW

Bromwich specifically raised concerns with an email from Davis that apparently suggested an outside counsel would question Ford.

“This hearing plan that Mr. Davis described does not appear designed to provide Dr. Blasey Ford with fair and respectful treatment,” Bromwich wrote. “In our view, the hiring of an unnamed ‘experienced sex crimes prosecutor,’ as Mr. Davis described in his email, is contrary to the Majority’s repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this Committee’s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations.”

He added: “It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a ‘circus,’ as well as Dr. Blasey Ford’s requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning. This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate.”

He went on to request the prosecutor’s resume “immediately” and asked to meet with her Tuesday.

The note is the latest twist in the tumultuous talks between the committee and Ford. Her story first emerged in the media, though was relayed over the summer to the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has since faced GOP criticism for sitting on the accusations citing Ford’s initial desire for confidentiality.

Ford accused Kavanaugh of covering her mouth and trying to remove her clothing at a party in the early 1980s, when both were in high school.

The committee has offered for Ford to share her testimony in public or private, or over the phone. She and her team previously accepted an invitation to testify Thursday.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation, as well as that of another woman who alleges he exposed himself to her while at Yale University.

“What I know is the truth, and the truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” Kavanaugh told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum in an exclusive interview on Monday.

Kavanaugh also told MacCallum that he would not withdraw his name from consideration over the allegations.

“I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity, and I know I’m telling the truth,” the judge said. “I know my lifelong record and I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process. I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.”

 

Todays Top Stories and Opinions | CNN
9/25/2018 11:00am

Kavanaugh tries unprecedented move to save his chance for the Supreme Court
by Stephen Collinson | CNN

(CNN)Brett Kavanaugh looked less like a Supreme Court justice than an ordinary political candidate whose campaign is on the skids, mired in scandal as he battles to keep his hopes of high office alive.

With his wife Ashley by his side, Kavanaugh seized control of his own defense against allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct that are threatening to overwhelm his hopes of joining the bench.

“I am not going anywhere,” Kavanaugh told Fox News in an interview on Monday night.

The joint appearance by the Kavanaughs was a startling moment, unprecedented in the history of the Supreme Court confirmation process, and may end up registering a new threshold in the politicization of the institution he hopes to join.

By offering an interview, Kavanaugh shed the public reticence normally expected of a senior member of the judiciary in order to slug it out in the political trenches.

He pleaded for a “fair process” at a potentially pivotal moment for a nomination that could change the path of American jurisprudence and deliver conservatives of a long-dreamed of majority on the court.

A big television interview has long been a weapon in a political consultant’s political arsenal. And Kavanaugh learned from some of best as one of the President’s men in the George W. Bush White House.

On Monday night, he did what political candidates do when they are in trouble. He risked an audacious play to reset a damaging narrative that threatens his viability.

He was also getting his retaliation in first, since his original accuser Christine Blasey Ford will testify before him at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday that will be critical to his chances of reaching the Court.

Understanding that perception is everything in politics, Kavanaugh was also sending a message to Washington, President Donald Trump’s grassroots supporters who watch Fox News, and any wavering Republican senators who might wonder if he’s worth the fight.

By choosing the President’s favorite network he was unlikely to change any minds on the left. But by playing into the intersection of politics and entertainment that has been a hallmark of this administration, Kavanaugh sent a signal of stubborn resolve to Trump himself.

Kavanaugh was calm and coherent, despite the embarrassing nature of the allegations, though he lacked the glib assurance of politicians who usually use television interviews as a get-out-of-jail card and appeared emotionally wrung out.

He sidestepped some of the most difficult questions — on whether there should be an investigation into his past, for instance — and he will get a far rougher ride from Democrats who question his integrity and professed reverence for truth on Thursday.

But the message is clear: This is a man with stomach for the fight, who refuses to be destroyed by the liberal attack machine. He wanted everyone to think there is no blood in the water.
“I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity. I know I’m telling the truth. I know my lifelong record. I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process,” Kavanaugh said. “I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.”

The President appeared to approve, using his Twitter account to promote the interview ahead of time, between meetings with other world leaders at the United Nations.

“This is an outstanding family who must be treated fairly!” Trump tweeted.

Kavanaugh portrays himself as the victim

By taking such a proactive approach, Kavanaugh was making a gamble that reflects the delicacy of his position ahead of Thursday’s hearing.

In effect, he was turning the tables on his accusers, portraying himself and not those who he is accused of wronging as the victim.

“I’m a good person, I’ve led a good life,” Kavanaugh said.

Where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh stands on key issues

His approach however might be a risky one in the #MeToo era and could alienate some women voters at a time when the Republican Party is battling what could turn out to be a historic gender gap. It may also not sit well at a time in which society is offering more deference to women who come forward with long-suppressed allegations against powerful men.

But Kavanaugh, who styles himself as a champion of women, portrayed himself as a cruelly wronged family man, and his wife spoke of the toll the political firestorm over his private life has taken on their two young daughters.

“They know Brett and they know the truth,” said Ashley Kavanaugh, who also worked in the Bush White House. “Just remember, you know your Dad,” she said, paraphrasing her advice to her girls.

To Kavanaugh’s supporters, he has been the unfair target of allegations that are over three decades old, that were never prosecuted at the time, and that appear to lack corroboration.

To those favorably disposed towards him, his Fox News appearance, and an earlier letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday vehemently laying out his defense will ring true.

And while he was robust in his own defense, Kavanaugh was careful not to attack the motives of Ford herself.

“I’m not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford was sexually assaulted by someone in some place. But what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” he said.
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Echoes of the Clintons

The historical precedents for Kavanaugh’s big move were political rather than legal.

Ironically, for someone who worked for former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview recalled the famous “60 Minutes” appearance of Bill and Hillary Clinton when the future President was accused by Gennifer Flowers of an alleged affair.

Ashley Kavanaugh was less political than the soon-to-be first lady in 1992, but the optics of their appearance sitting side-by-side were similar.

And if the judge is eventually confirmed, Kavanaugh’s wife might have a similar result — saving her husband’s judicial career just as Clinton saved her husband’s political career.

Kavanaugh takes a crisis-management cue from the Clintons

It also carried a historical echo of Richard Nixon’s 1952 “Checkers” speech when the vice presidential nominee saved his spot on Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential ticket by fighting off corruption allegations while portraying himself as a wronged and humble family man.

That was one of the first occasions when the power of television to shift a political narrative became clear, a device used by Kavanaugh on Monday night. It’s also a form understood by Bill Shine, the White House communications czar who is a former Fox executive.

Court not above politics

But while Kavanaugh’s strategy might work in the short term, its impact will linger.

A hardball struggle to drive his confirmation through by the slimmest of margins is certain to deepen partisan feelings towards the court that have developed over the last 20 years.

Justices, with their lifetime appointments and lofty reputations have managed to retain a mystique above the political fray in their marble columned refuge opposite the US Capitol.

Even as that image has frayed, it’s hard to imagine someone like Justice Elena Kagan or Samuel Alito going on television in such an overt political appearance. Television cameras are not even allowed in the court amid concern its dignity could be impeached.

Perhaps, Kavanaugh is doing everyone a favor by dropping the pretense that the court is above politics. After all, many of its high-profile cases are decided by partisan majorities on the most controversial issues in America, such as guns, religion, climate change and abortion.