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Latest from Ben Morgan

    The Philbrook Museum of Art is debuting a new exhibit next month.  The HBO show ‘Watchmen’ premiered in 2019 and was centered around the Tulsa Race Massacre. Now, the Philbrook Museum of Art is debuting their “Watchmen: Art + Impact” exhibit.   On their website, the Philbrook museum say the night will consist of “a conversation with Watchmen set designer Edward McLoughlin onstage in the Museum’s Patti Johnson Wilson Auditorium. After viewing a clip, Tulsa author, attorney, and consultant Hannibal B. Johnson will interview Watchmen director/producer Nicole Kassell, and actor/Tulsa native Tim Blake Nelson via Skype to explore the impact of the show.” The exhibit debuts on February 21st.  Tickets for the exhibit go on sale on Thursday, January 22nd at 10am. 
  • Rocklahoma announced their lineup for 2020, Wednesday morning via Facebook.  The headliners include Five Finger Death Punch, Slipknot and Staind.  The event will take place May 22nd - 24th in Pryor.  Tickets for Rocklahoma go on sale for Early Bird Passes on Friday at 10am.  You can purchase them here.
  • A Tulsa playwright has a new play premiering this month.  John Fisher was born and raised in Tulsa area and studied theater at OSU.  His new play 'The Nostalgia Will Eat Istelf' is now playing down at the Nightingale Theater. The play tells the story of a video game-playing Youtuber whose encounter with a fellow Youtuber takes a dark turn Fisher tells KRMG its a study of misogyny in the gaming community, while also being a message about anti-bullying. He says you’ll enjoy the play if you loved old 80’s B-Movie classics like VideoDrome, Evil Dead and Creepshow.  “You will laugh a lot, you’ll be scared... and you might even think a bit too.”  Fisher says he enjoys writing plays which focus on the bizarre, something that is definitely fitting when talking about ‘Nostalgia.’  “People have said it’s a lot like Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, something that has horror elements. Definitely a bit left of reality.”  The play will be showing every weekend for the remainder of January.  You can buy your tickets here. You can listen to the full interview with writer John Fisher here: 
  • A new type of fitness workout is coming to South Tulsa.  Tulsa couple Justin and Megan Harlan are co-owners of the new fitness studio Row House.  The Row House is a boutique fitness concept with a rowing machine being front and center to provide a unique workout providing what Justin calls a “high energy, low impact 45-minute that works your core, legs and arms. All the areas we care most about.”  The couple say it is a balance of muscular strength and aerobic endurance while engaging over 85 percent of the body’s muscles including legs, core, back and arms.  The two say what attracts people to this style of workout is how personal the experience can be.  “I need some sort of accountability system,” says Justin. “I think when you show up at a gym with hundreds of people, it’s easy to sort of get lost. At boutique fitness centers like Row House, you really have that individualized attention and you’re also going to see the same people in the classes you go to.  You create a stronger community that way, and that can translate into a far better workout.”  The couple are bringing the first Oklahoma Row House location to Tulsa at 4820 E. 61st St., Suite 120.  They plan on having the center open “mid-February.”  You can listen to the full interview with Justin and Megan Harlan here:
  • The Joint at the Hard Rock is getting a makeover this Spring. Hard Rock's Brian Jennings tells KRMG, come April, you'll start seeing a new look come to The Joint. “The Joint isn’t going anywhere, it’s the same venue, just a new look and feel.” Jennings says they’re rechristening the Joint into “Hard Rock Live” and says the casino wants to bring more rock oriented groups to the venue. “There is going to be a real focus on hard rock and what that means, and more of the rock acts we really love.” The first act at the new venue is Lenny Kravitz at the grand unveiling of Hard Rock live on Sunday, April 26th. You can listen to the full interview with Brian Jennings here:
  • Late last week, Iran’s top security and intelligence commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that was authorized by President Trump, American officials said.  That led to an Iran retaliation strike. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched 22 ballistic missiles at several military bases in Western Iraq that housed US soldiers early Wednesday morning.  KRMG was able to sit down with Oklahoma Senator and the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee to speak on what the US will do now and what these attacks mean for US relations with Iran.  You can hear the entire interview here: Senator Inhofe tells KRMG the death of Soleimani was necessary after “being found guilty of the death of an American life” as well as numerous threats against the United States and it’s allies.  Inhofe says The President is showing signs of strength in his dealings with Iran.  Strength he says the previous administration was lacking.  Inhofe went on to say he believes that the impact to Oklahomans will be minimal, with maybe a few gas prices rising here and there.  “I don’t think it will be a noticeable change for those who live in Oklahoma or even the rest of America to that respect.” When asked about the retaliation strikes against the Iraqi military bases, Inhofe believes it was the last we’ll see of aggressive  actions from Iran at this time and wont escalate into a full-blown conflict in the Middle East.  “I don’t think they want a war. I know WE don’t want a war. With this administration [Iran] does not want a war.”  The topic of conversation soon drifted into the Impeachment Trial that may or may not be happening soon.  KRMG asked the Senator what he thinks will happen now that the House has voted on Impeachment but has yet to turn over the articles to the senate.  “I don’t think Nancy Pelosi knew what she was going to do before she did it. The Democrats are divided right now. Some of them are saying ‘Come on Nancy, let’s get that stuff over there so we can start beating up the President again!’ The others think ‘Well, let’s hold on a minute the polling isn’t looking all that good. Are we, the liberal end of this, benefiting from [the Impeachment] process.’ That’s the dilemma that she has.” Inhofe says there should be a “breakthrough” as soon as Thursday.  “I don’t see that she can get by with any more time.”  He finished off the interview by saying it’s going to be a big day and a big week for America. 
  • The Rogers County Sheriff's Office say they're going to be using a social media platform to help keep residents safe. They announced they'll be utilizing the website NextDoor to share important news and emergency notifications. NextDoor is a social networking service for neighborhoods where users submit their real names and addresses to the website to get localized updates for their area. The sheriff's office say they're using the service to 'make Rogers and even better place to live.
  • Storm Spotters are an invaluable asset to the National Weather Service. The info they provide paired with radar data can be the difference between life and death, especially when it comes to Oklahoma storms. “The information that spotters provide is critical to our warning process. It provides an important piece of info or piece of the puzzle that helps us better understand what the storms are doing on that particular day.” Warning Coordination Meteorologist Ed Calianese at the National Weather Service office in Tulsa telling KRMG it's a position that can be filled by anyone, but they're looking for some key factors in candidates. “Ideally we’re looking for volunteers interested in weather and interested in helping their communities.” You can listen to the full interview with Meteorologist Ed Calianese here:   The first class will be held on January 22nd at Siloam Springs High School  in Benton County, Arkansas.   The next class will be held on January 25th in Claremore.  You can see the full class listing here. No sign-ups required. 
  • Crews are on scene of a house fire in Sperry. Fire Crews say they were called around 10 this morning to the scene near North 52nd and West 103rd to reports of a blaze. KRMG is told the family who lives in that home are safe. Crews had to ship in water to that area because there were no hydrants close by. No word yet on what caused this fire.
  • A goat made a stir this weekend after being born on New Years. Titus was born only weighing 8 ounces, well below the normal weight of a baby goat. The goat’s owner, Clanci Hicks says she thought he'd never make it but says she turned to social media for help. The advice of strangers seems to be working. Little Titus is doing fine at the moment weighing 12 ounces. Hicks continues to post updates to social media of Titus' day to day well being.
  • Ben Morgan

    News Editor

    Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Ben Morgan is new to Tulsa, but is eager to be a part of the KRMG family. He earned his degree in Multimedia Production and Broadcasting at the International College of Broadcasting, graduating in 2018, and has been in radio for about 2 and a half years. Ben is a self-described nerd and loves movies. He can be found at home with his cat playing video games in his free time. You might see him out and about doing interviews and working on stories, but most of the time he'll be behind-the-scenes producing  the Cox Communications broadcast of the KRMG Morning News with Dan Potter on Cox Channel 3 or 1003. Plus, he'll be writing and producing stories for KRMG radio newscasts. Favorite Movie: Pulp Fiction. Favorite Band: Queen. Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad. Favorite Sports Team: Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Read More
  • Jenks has grown a lot during the past few years, but the city is gearing up for what Jenks Chamber of Commerce President  Josh Driskell says will be a game-changer: the new outlet mall. It's set to open in the middle part of next year. He says it will bring in lots of shoppers and lots of spending all over Jenks. “They're going to be in downtown Jenks, they're going to be visiting Riverwalk, they're going to be visiting restaurants all throughout the community,” Driskell said. Besides the mall, there are other notable projects, including a new hotel that recently broke ground near the Gateway Mortgage headquarters near Highway 75. Driskell said there could be a new office building coming to that area too. He says city leaders are also excited about a new octopus exhibit at the Oklahoma Aquarium which is expected to boost attendance figures there when it opens in March.
  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • Spain’s new government declared a national climate emergency on Tuesday, taking a formal first step toward enacting ambitious measures to fight climate change. The declaration approved by the Cabinet says the left-of-center Socialist government will send to parliament within 100 days its proposed climate legislation. The targets coincide with those of the European Union, including a reduction of net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Spain’s coalition government wants up to 95% of the Mediterranean country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040. The plan also foresees eliminating pollution by buses and trucks and making farming carbon neutral. Details of the plan are to be made public when the proposed legislation is sent to parliament for approval. More than two dozen countries and scores of local and regional authorities have declared a climate emergency in recent years. Scientists say the decade that just ended was by far the hottest ever measured on Earth, capped off by the second-warmest year on record. Also Tuesday, young climate activists including Greta Thunberg told the elites gathered at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland they are not doing enough to deal with the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum has confirmed to KRMG that he will name TPD Major Wendell Franklin as the next police chief for the city of Tulsa. Franklin, 46, had most recently served as commander of the department's Headquarters Division. In a public forum featuring the four finalists for the position held last Friday, Franklin spoke about the importance of using modern technology and data-driven decision making to enhance public safety. And, he promised to make the gathering and dissemination of that data as transparent as possible. Franklin was promoted over three deputy chiefs who were also finalists, Jonathan Brooks, Eric Dalgleish, and Dennis Larsen. Franklin grew up in Tulsa, and at only two years old, lost his mother to violence. But, he said Friday, he hadn't planned on a career in law enforcement until after he graduated from Booker T Washington High School. He enrolled at Tulsa Community College, where a counselor steered him toward criminal justice. He has served with the department for 23 years. 
  • Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has announced a temporary halt to its production of certain Excedrin headache pills, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to CNN and WSYR-TV, the company said in a statement Tuesday that it “discovered inconsistencies in how we weigh ingredients for Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets and Geltabs, and Excedrin Migraine Caplets and Geltabs.” The inconsistencies should not affect customer safety, the statement read. The company added that it is “working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible” but could not say when it would start producing the items again, the outlets reported. “Other Excedrin products are available along with other pain-relieving drugs, but dosages may differ,” the statement said. WSYR reported that some drugstores had a shortage of Excedrin products as a result. Read more here or here.

Washington Insider

  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • The first substantive day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial turned into a late night, insult-filled battle between House prosecutors and the President's legal team, as Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to have the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. 'They will not permit the American people to hear from the witnesses,' Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, taking direct aim at the President's lawyers. 'And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.' That prompted an immediate response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who demanded that Nadler apologize, accusing him of making repeated false allegations about President Trump. 'The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,' Cipollone said. Just before 1 am, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both sides to tone it down, his first real foray into the impeachment trial. 'I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,' as the Chief Justice made clear the debate was not following along the lines of civil discourse. 'I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,' Chief Justice Roberts added. Democrats kept the Senate working past midnight in a bid to put Republicans on the record on calling witnesses like former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other top officials who defied subpoenas from the House. 'The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at one point. 'Let's get this trial started, shall we?' But with Republicans sticking together, GOP Senators defeated a series of Democratic amendments to an impeachment rules resolution on identical votes of 53-47 - straight along party lines. Democrats said there was only one reason why Republicans were not looking to hear from new witnesses - because they don't want to hear the real Ukraine story. On the other side, Republicans joined the White House legal team in blasting the demands of Democrats. 'The only thing that’s rigged is Democrats’ perpetual effort to undo the results of the 2016 election,' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In the end, no Republicans broke ranks, as the GOP defeated 11 different amendments by Democrats to change the GOP rules plan, bringing about a final vote over 12 hours after the Senate convened.
  • Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments. The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days. 'She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days,' a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters. Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate. The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial. 'Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom. 'This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,' said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges. 'It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,' Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial. “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added. While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House. The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer.  It was straight along party lines. A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department. Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
  • A GOP rules plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday could pave the way for the trial to be finished in as little as two weeks, as the plan envisions squeezing 48 hours of opening arguments into just four days, with the option of voting on the impeachment articles without any additional witnesses or evidence. 'Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who fully endorsed the proposal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While GOP Senators said the plan would be modeled on a bipartisan rules deal at the start of the Clinton impeachment trial, there were two notable differences from 21 years ago, governing opening arguments, and the submission of evidence. While each side would get 24 hours to make their opening arguments, this GOP plan would force that time to be used in just two days - raising the specter of an impeachment trial which could stretch well into the night because of those time constraints. Another change would require an affirmative vote by the Senate to simply put the investigatory materials from the House into the trial record, something which was done automatically in the Clinton impeachment trial. Also, even if extra witnesses were approved by Senators, it would not guarantee their testimony on the Senate floor, as there would have to be a vote after the depositions on whether the witness would testify publicly. With a Tuesday debate set on the rules, Republicans also made clear they would not support any move to add witnesses until after opening arguments have been completed. 'If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts,' said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Meanwhile, Democrats roundly denounced the GOP rules details. 'The proposal that Majority Leader McConnell just released looks more like a cover up than a fair trial,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). 'Mitch McConnell doesn't want a fair trial, he wants a fast trial,' said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). 'It's all about the cover up,' said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'These are not the Clinton rules.' 'There’s nothing in this resolution that requires hearing witnesses or admitting evidence — which is unlike any trial I’ve ever seen,' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). 'Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who promised to offer amendments to the plan on Tuesday afternoon. Debate and votes on the rules resolution will start on Tuesday afternoon - and could turn into an extended battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • In a 171 page submission made to the U.S. Senate on Monday, President Donald Trump's legal team said the impeachment charges submitted by the House do not identify any violations of criminal law and should immediately by dismissed by Senators. 'The articles should be rejected and the President should immediately be acquitted,' the legal brief states, arguing the charge of 'abuse of power' does not state an impeachable offense - even though that charge was drawn up by the House in 1974 against President Richard Nixon. 'House Democrats’ novel conception of “abuse of power” as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective,' the Trump brief states. 'It supplants the Framers’ standard of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” with a made-up theory that the President can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of 'abuse of power.'' On the question of whether President Trump held back military aid for Ukraine while pressing the Ukraine government to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and his son, the White House legal team says there is no evidence to support those claims. 'The most important piece of evidence demonstrating the President’s innocence is the transcript of the President’s July 25 telephone call with President Zelenskyy,' the trial brief states, referring to the call which President Trump has repeatedly said was 'perfect.' 'President Trump did not even mention the security assistance on the call, and he certainly did not make any connection between the assistance and any investigation,' the White House legal team states, without mentioning that a hold was put on the aid to Ukraine 90 minutes after that phone call concluded on July 25, 2019. From the White House on Monday, the President tweeted out his familiar opposition to the impeachment trial, continuing to characterize the House impeachment process as unfair. Minutes after the White House filed its trial brief, Democrats in the House responded to his initial 'answer' to the Senate trial summons. 'The House denies each and every allegation and defense in the Preamble to the Answer,' the nine page response began. 'He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit,' referring to the President's interactions with the leader of Ukraine.  'President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment,” the House reply added. “That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,' the House concluded.