Fox News 2024-02-25 22:33:56


No. 2 Senate Republican leader endorses Trump in primary after South Carolina win

EXCLUSIVE: Senate Minority Whip John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican leader, is endorsing former President Donald Trump for re-election.

It’s a key win for Trump from the establishment wing of the Republican Party. The South Dakota Republican is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top deputy in the Senate GOP.

“The primary results in South Carolina make clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in this year’s pivotal presidential election. The choice before the American people is crystal clear: It’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden,” Thune told Fox News Digital.

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“I support former President Trump’s campaign to win the presidency, and I intend to do everything I can to see that he has a Republican majority in the Senate working with him to restore American strength at home and abroad,” he continued.

“Together we must put an end to the disastrous Biden-Schumer agenda. Our country cannot endure another four years of Bidenomics, continued lawlessness at our southern border, and American weakness on the global stage.”

Thune and Trump spoke by phone on Saturday night after Trump’s commanding victory in the South Carolina Republican primary, a source familiar with the call told Fox News Digital.

It wasn’t clear before now whether Thune, who’s seen as one of McConnell’s potential successors to lead the Senate Republican Conference, would endorse either of the two major candidates for the 2024 GOP nomination. 

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Like McConnell, he suggested he would support whoever Republican voters chose as their presidential nominee, but Thune has for the most part avoided mentioning the former president.

He previously endorsed South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign and was present at Scott’s launch event. Scott dropped out in November and endorsed Trump last month.  

The Sunday announcement puts added pressure on McConnell, who has brushed off scrutiny on whether his frosty relationship with Trump would stop him from endorsing the ex-president in the Republican primary.

McConnell said at a press conference earlier this month when asked about the race, “I’ve stayed essentially out of it and when I change my mind about that, I’ll let you know.”

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Both Thune and McConnell were targeted by Trump for criticizing his handling of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the 2020 election.

Thune won a landslide re-election victory for a fourth Senate term in 2022 despite Trump calling for a primary challenger against him.

His endorsement of the former president comes after Trump beat former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state primary on Saturday night. The ex-president won roughly 60% of the vote compared to 40% for Haley.

One of our nation’s greatest freedoms falls by the wayside as American beliefs targeted

Anti-Christian hatred is accelerating in the United States, according to a Christian nonprofit that has tracked violence against U.S. churches since 2018.

The Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council released its annual Hostility Against Churches report this week, finding there were 436 hostile incidents against churches in 2023. This is more than double the number tracked in 2022 and more than eight times as many as the group found in 2018.

The group said it used publicly available data to track 915 acts of hostility against churches over the past six years. Most of the incidents were acts of vandalism. The report also found gun-related incidents, arson and bomb threats used against churches. 

“From January 2018 to November 2023, there were at least 709 occurrences of vandalism, 135 arson attacks or attempts, 22 gun-related incidents, 32 bomb threats, and 61 other incidents (assault, threats, interruption of worship services, etc.). In 39 cases, multiple types of hostility occurred (e.g., vandalism and arson),” the report states.

ANTI-CHRISTIAN HOSTILITY REACHING ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ LEVELS IN CULTURE, GOVERNMENT UNDER BIDEN, OBSERVERS WARN

Vandalism against churches may be a sign of the culture’s increasing irreverence for places of worship and the Christian religion in general, the report said.

“Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hotbutton political issues related to human dignity and sexuality. Attacks on houses of worship may also signal a discomfort with religion in general,” the report continued.

FRC president Tony Perkins claimed the hostility towards Christians displayed by the Biden administration was mirrored by the growing persecution against Christians, worldwide. 

“There is a common connection between the growing religious persecution abroad and the rapidly increasing hostility toward churches here at home: our government’s policies,” Perkins said in a statement. “The indifference abroad to the fundamental freedom of religion is rivaled only by the increasing antagonism toward the moral absolutes taught by Bible-believing churches here in the U.S., which is fomenting this environment of hostility toward churches.”

WORLD LOOKS OTHER WAY AS CHRISTIANS ‘KILLED FOR SPORT BY JIHADISTS’ IN NIGERIA

Some of President Biden’s critics have accused his administration of waging a war on Christians, after several pro-life activists were charged with violating federal law for protesting at an abortion clinic in 2021. The activists could face up to 11 years in prison.

FRC report author Arielle Del Turco believes the documented incidents show there is a “growing disdain for Christianity and core Christian beliefs” in the United States.

“Although the motivations for many of these acts of hostility remain unknown, the effect is unmistakable: religious intimidation. They send the message that churches are not wanted in the community or respected in general. Our culture is demonstrating a growing disdain for Christianity and core Christian beliefs, and acts of hostility against churches could be a physical manifestation of that. Regardless of the motivations of these crimes, everyone should treat churches and all houses of worship with respect and affirm the importance of religious freedom for all Americans.”

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The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

‘Star Trek,’ Marvel actor dead at 49 following ALS battle: Lived ‘a full and joyous life ‘

Kenneth Mitchell, known for his roles in “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Captain Marvel,” died on Saturday from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) complications. He was 49.

“For five and a half years Ken faced a series of awful challenges from ALS. And in truest Ken fashion, he managed to rise above each one with grace and commitment to living a full and joyous life in each moment,” a statement read, which was shared across his social media platforms.

“He lived by the principles that each day is a gift and that we never walk alone. His life is a shining example of how full one can be when you live with love, compassion, humour, inclusion, and community. Ken was an inspirational work of art to all the hearts he touched.”

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Kenneth was born in Toronto, Canada, on Nov. 25, 1974 to Diane and David Mitchell. He was known for being “a giver, a listener, a sentimentalist, and an excellent observer of his surroundings. One of his most endearing qualities as a friend is that Ken loved to watch others shine. He was a conductor of connecting friends together and thoroughly enjoyed prompting a good story,” the statement said.

“And boy oh boy did he love to laugh. He absolutely loved to laugh. Ken had a keen passion and detailed eye for beauty in the arts. He thrived creatively which could be easily seen in his architecture, graphic design, acting, photography, writing, broad love of music, and throughout his home in Studio City, California.

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“Ken is forever grateful for the massive amounts of love and endless support he received from his community along this journey. Especially the courage, resilience, and strength displayed from his extraordinary wife, family, and friends.”

Mitchell portrayed Klingons Kol, Kol-Sha and Tenavik, in addition to Aurellio on “Star Trek: Discovery.” He also voiced a number of characters on the animated science fiction series, “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”

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He starred in more than two dozen episodes of “Jericho,” portrayed Deke Slayton in “The Astronaut Wives Club,” and was known for playing Carol Danvers’ father in “Captain Marvel.” 

Mitchell was diagnosed with ALS in 2018, and revealed his diagnosis two years later. He told People magazine that after he received his diagnosis, he turned down a lead role in a television show as it required him to move to Newfoundland. He began using a wheelchair in 2019.

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“I think it, over time, became the theme of us accepting this with grace,” he said. “Trying to see the beauty in it, in a way. I’ll never forget, one of my ‘Star Trek’ co-stars told me, because they had dealt with some trying times with illnesses and stuff, and I remember them communicating to me, saying, ‘You have a choice. You can look at this in many different ways, but maybe try to look at this like a gift where you get to experience life in a way that most people don’t.'”

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is named after the former New York Yankee great who was forced to retire in 1939 due to the debilitating disease. Gehrig played for the team for 17 seasons and retired at the age of 36. He died two years later.  

ALS is a progressive neurological disease which targets the nervous system and motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, weakening muscles and limiting physical function.

The cause is unknown and symptoms can vary, but muscle weakness that worsens over time is common in many cases. There is currently no cure for the disease and progression of symptoms varies from each case.

Mitchell is survived by wife Susan and their two children, Lilah and Kallum.

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Conservative-friendly comedian takes a dig at ‘SNL’ in opening monologue

Comedian Shane Gillis addressed being fired from “Saturday Night Live” in 2019 during his debut as host on Saturday and joked as he told the audience, “please don’t Google that.”

“Yeah, I”m here,” he said, telling the audience that many of them probably didn’t know who he was. “I was fired from this show a while ago, but don’t look that up, please.”

He continued, “if you don’t know who I am, please don’t Google that. It’s fine. Don’t even worry about it.”

Gillis was announced as a host for “Saturday Night Live” in February after being fired in 2019 shortly after his initial hiring that year over controversial remarks he made during a podcast. 

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Gillis also joked that he shouldn’t be on stage and said he was designed to be a “high school football coach.”

The comedian also raised eyebrows by quipping to the audience that he wasn’t sure if people could tell by looking at him, but that he had “family members with Down syndrome.” 

“It almost got me,” he said during the monologue, moving from side-to-side. “I dodged it, but it nicked me. It nicked me.”

“Look, I don’t have any material that can be on TV, all right? I’m trying my best. Also, this place is extremely well-lit. I can see everyone not enjoying it. This is the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Gillis continued, responding to the audience, who didn’t appear amused by the joke. 

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NBC announced in 2019 that they would be hiring Gillis and shortly after, a video of the comedian resurfaced. “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels said at the time that they were “not aware” of his past remarks and said they were “offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.”

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” the show stated at the time. “We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

Gillis and fellow comedian Matt McCusker were discussing an unidentified city’s Chinatown neighborhood during a podcast. 

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Gillis, during the resurfaced clip, used the f-word, followed by an ethnic slur to describe the Chinese residents, before complaining about his experience at Chinatown restaurants with specific reference to the “hassle” he described in trying to translate his order with servers. 

The comedian recently announced his partnership with Bud Light on social media. Bud Light also posted a photo of Gillis and said in the caption, “excited to be part of your 2024 tour.”

NASCAR penalizes star driver after noticing the glove on his left hand breaks odd rule

Joey Logano was set to start the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on the front row alongside Michael McDowell, but he was moved to the back of the pack due to an odd rules violation.

NASCAR said right before the race that Logano “will drop to the rear and serve a pass-through penalty at the start of today’s race due to violating rule 14.3.1.1 of the NASCAR Rule Book (gloves do not meet SFI specification).”

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Chase Elliott was also moved to the back “for unapproved adjustments.”

Larry McReynolds, a FOX NASCAR analyst, said on “FOX RaceDay” that Logano was penalized for a safety violation. He said each piece of gear a driver has needs to be “SFI rated” – which is a safety rating.

“The glove that Joey had on his left hand it was not SFI rated,” McReynolds said. “Everybody does this at super speedways in qualifying. They put that left hand up there (by the safety net) to try and block some air. 

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“Evidently, NASCAR deemed it that the glove he had on yesterday was not something he would do in the race, but it was not SFI rated. You can do what Joey did there – everybody does it. But the glove was not SFI rated and that was a safety violation.”

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Logano was on the pole at the Daytona 500 and had another good run in qualifying before the Atlanta race.

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McDowell will now have Todd Gilliland and Kyle Busch behind him. He was the only driver to break the 31-second mark.

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Sportscaster faces heat for branding Trump supporters as a ‘toxic cult’

Sportscaster Bob Costas drew ire from “The Big Weekend Show” panelists hours after slamming Trump supporters as members of a “toxic cult” on CNN’s “Smerconish” on Saturday.

“74, 75 million people in this country voted for Donald Trump. I’m not sure that’s a great look [for Costas],” Guy Benson, radio host and Fox News contributor, said.

As discussion pivoted from former President Donald Trump’s cruise to victory in Nikki Haley’s home state of South Carolina on Saturday, Benson, along with Fox News contributors Katie Pavlich and Lisa Boothe, laid into Costas with their own takes on the current state of politics.

BOB COSTAS RIPS INTO TRUMP SUPPORTERS, CALLING THEM A ‘TOXIC CULT’ AND EX-PRESIDENT A ‘LOATHSOME’ MONSTER

“From sports to saying Trump supporters are a cult… It was a deplorable moment for him,” Pavlich weighed in.

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Boothe alleged the criticism would apply to anyone dominating the Republican race to retake the White House in November. With that race down to two people – and with Donald Trump securing all primary and caucus victories so far – the spotlights have mostly turned in his direction.

“Let’s say Nikki Haley did get the nomination, but she’s not going to. He would be turning the same ire toward her, right? Remember, they called John McCain racist. Mitt Romney was a sexist. Basically, if you’re a Republican, you have a target on your back,” she said.

“They’re going to criticize Donald Trump, but we’re seeing, with Joe Biden, a fracturing coalition of the people that propelled him to victory in 2020, saying, ‘You know what? We thought that you were going to be better. You weren’t.’ And now Trump’s going in and can easily say, ‘Things were good under my watch…’” she continued.

Costas, during his appearance on “Smerconish,” titled Trump the “most disgraceful figure in modern presidential history” in addition to calling out his supporters. 

“He [Trump] is a bubbling cauldron of loathsome traits,” he told host Michael Smerconish.

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“You have to be in the throes of some sort of toxic delusion and in a toxic cult to believe that Donald Trump has ever been, in any sense, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, or ethically fit to be President of the United States,” he added. “But his supporters are locked in on that.”

Costas additionally rebuked President Biden for running for re-election and thereby risking plunging the country into “insanity” by setting the stage for Trump to take office again.

“He could lose to Trump and subject the nation to four more years of this kind of ongoing insanity. Or if he squeaks by, it’s very likely that he cannot complete his second term. He‘d be 86 at the end of it,” he said.

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Former President Trump quickly secured a win over former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in Saturday’s showdown in the Palmetto State, another essential victory as he looks to clinch the nomination and face off against President Biden in a November rematch.

Both candidates now eye Super Tuesday, slated for March 5.

Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.

Gavin Newsom confronted point-blank on Biden running for president at 81

NBC News host Kristen Welker pressed Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., on Sunday on whether it was responsible for the Democratic Party to run for President Biden despite voters’ concerns about his age.

After Newsom criticized former President Trump and added Democrats were not underestimating the GOP front-runner’s strength, Welker mentioned how, “76% of voters say they have real concerns about President Biden’s ability to serve a second term.”

“Do you think it’s responsible for Democrats to put him at the top of the ticket given those concerns?” she asked. 

Newsom confidently said during his media appearance that he reveres Biden’s record and called it a “masterclass.”

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“I mean, what he’s done in three years, it’s been a masterclass. Close to 15 million jobs, that’s eight times more than the last three Republican presidents combined. The economy is booming, inflation is cooling. It’s .6% more than it was in the summer of 2020 at just 3.1%,” he said.

He told Welker to “wait a second,” before further praising the president. “We have American manufacturing coming home, all because of Biden’s wisdom, his temperance, his capacity to to lead in a bipartisan manner, which is an underrepresented point,” he continued. 

Welker pushed back and noted that the voters weren’t complaining about his record. 

“They’re talking about concerns about his ability to beat Trump, who you’ve called lightning, a threat, essentially to democracy. We’ve heard a lot of his allies say publicly, in private, ‘He is strong, he’s in command, he’s forceful.’ Does he need to do more to show that?” Welker said. 

NEWSOM SAYS BIDEN SHOULD DEBATE TRUMP, ‘BEAT’ HIM LIKE IN 2020

Newsom argued Biden was doing everything he needs to do and said the president has been successful because of his age. 

“So, no, from my humble perspective, not only have the last three years been extraordinary, I’ve been out, as you know, on the campaign trail. I was just out in California. I’ve seen him up close, I’ve seen him from far. But here’s my point: it’s because of his age that he’s been so successful. It’s because of the wisdom and the character that’s developed over the years,” he said, listing the names of legislation passed under the Biden administration. “So the opportunity to express that for four more years, what a gift it is for the American people.”

Welker went on to ask if Newsom ruled out a run in 2024, and he said, “you’ve got to be kidding.”

“I am here celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of the Biden-Harris Administration, making the case that we need to make to lift up the issues, lift up the record, drive contrast with the Republican nominee to beat Donald Trump, so we have four more years,” he said. “It’s not even a conversation, and it’s a damning conversation, frankly, the other side wants us to have.”

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A large majority of Americans believe both Biden and Trump are too old to serve another term in the White House.

Eighty-six percent of Americans think Biden, 81, is too old to serve another term as president, while 62% think the same of Trump, 77, according to the results of an ABC News/Ipsos poll released in February. 

Major investor will ‘immediately discontinue’ working in NYC over Trump verdict

Some nationwide real estate investors, like Cardone Capital’s Grant Cardone, have started telling their teams to pack their bags and leave New York after the verdict in former President Trump’s fraud trial.

“We thought this year was the opportunity to come into Chicago, California and New York City. I’ve been waiting for 40 years now to invest in that marketplace. I was completely confident this was the year to come,” Cardone told Steve Doocy on “FOX & Friends” on Wednesday. “And when that ruling happened, it was like, pencils down. Don’t touch it. Don’t go there.”

The business leader gained recent recognition after he posted on X that his firm would “immediately discontinue” all underwriting on New York City real estate to focus on other markets like Texas and Florida.

Cardone further claimed that New York has risks “that outweigh the opportunities” in terms of property value — and the blue state has shown its politicization when it comes to doing business.

TRUMP ASSETS, INCLUDING N.Y.C. TOWER, COULD BE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK TO PAY MASSIVE $355M CIVIL FRAUD RULING

“We invest for 14,000 investors at Cardone Capital that depend on cash flow. And if I can’t predict the cash flow because of some ruling, or because of the migrants, or because I can’t evict people, New York City just keeps doing every single thing they can to sell real estate in Florida, not sell real estate in New York,” the fund manager explained.

Additional financial concerns exist in New York for pension funds, lenders and public real estate investment trusts following civil implications from the $355 million Trump ruling, Cardone noted, potentially causing a decline in property value and an increase in loan defaults that could roll over to regional banks.

“Loan proceeds are based on the value of the property. They’re going to require me to actually underwrite my property on the cash flow, the income of the property and what valuation I believe that property’s worth. The broker also put a valuation on it,” the investor expanded, “and then the bank is also going to use at least one other appraisal, maybe two, or independent of me.”

“There could be as many as five appraisals on that. The value that I’m going to put on the property. Keep in mind, when I’m buying something, I’m not thinking about selling it the next day. In the case of Trump, he’s not selling any of this stuff,” Cardone continued. “We want the property for the cash flow… every seller is always going to push the price value up based on the future, not based on fraud.”

O’Leary Ventures chief and “Shark Tank’s” “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary echoed similar concerns as Cardone on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast,” warning against developing in New York in the Trump trial aftermath.

“New York was already a loser state, like California is a loser state. There are many loser states because of policy, high taxes on competitive regulation,’ he said. ‘I would never invest in New York now. And I’m not the only person saying that.”

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Cardone cautioned of a business ripple effect, and that “nobody” in real estate will put “big money” in New York anytime soon.

“We were going to put $1 billion in New York City this year. We were going to put $1 billion in Chicago and maybe another billion in Los Angeles. And we won’t touch any of them now,” he said. “Texas, Florida, Arizona: go hard, go big and go long.”

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Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.

Jennifer Aniston reveals she shared a New Year’s kiss with an icon

Jennifer Aniston revealed an unexpected collaboration with Barbra Streisand.

During her speech introducing Streisand at the 2024 SAG Awards for the icon’s Life Achievement Award on Saturday, she revealed that the pair once celebrated New Year’s Eve together with a kiss.

“And while I haven’t had the pleasure of working with her – yet – I’ve been fortunate enough to spend cherished time with her over the years, and I even got to kiss her at midnight one New Year’s Eve,” the “Friends” star said.

Aniston also heaped praise on the “Funny Girl” star in her speech, saying, “Barbra. That’s all you have to say and you know. You know. That face. That voice. That talent. It is a once in a lifetime talent and how lucky that it is in our lifetime.”

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“Barbra’s music was always playing in my house growing up, and I remember so vividly I heard that voice. I mean that voice. This feeling just washed over my entire body. My eyes just welled up with tears. And from that moment on, I was madly in love with Barbra,” she added.

“Barbra did not just pave the way for us women; she bulldozed a clearing for us. Magnificent talent aside, she’s also a mensch,” Aniston said. She also highlighted her charity work, including creating the Streisand foundation, “giving tens of millions of dollars in grants to more than 800 organizations supporting women’s health, civil rights, environmental issues and gun control.”

As she wrapped up her introduction, Aniston added, “I’m telling the truth. Barbra, I love you, I love you, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”

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Bradley Cooper, who followed in Streisand’s path and starred in 2018’s “A Star is Born” after her 1976 version, then took the stage to help introduce Streisand as well.

“Barbra, you stop at nothing in your pursuit of realizing your brilliant visions, we are so pleased to be here tonight to see you honored for your remarkable and truly unprecedented career,” Cooper said.

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In her speech accepting her Life Achievement Award, Streisand thanked SAG, and spoke about dreaming of being an actress and seeing “Guys and Dolls,” starring Marlon Brando, as a child.

“That make-believe world was much more pleasant than anything I was experiencing. I didn’t like reality. I wanted to be in the movies, even though I knew I didn’t look like the other women on screen,” she recalled, adding, “Somehow, someway, thank you, God, it all came true.” 

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Streisand later said in her speech, “It’s really a privilege to be a part of this profession. People can sit in the theater and escape their own troubles. What an idea.”