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Weinstein Company, President Trump #MeToo, Olympics: Broadsheet Feb. 12

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! President Trump takes on the #MeToo movement, the sale of the Weinstein Company hits a roadblock, and a pair of powerful women leave big jobs—for other big jobs. Have a productive Monday.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• In Willoughby’s words. In this piece, Jennie Willoughby writes about what it was like to watch President Trump come to the defense of her ex-husband, Rob Porter, and in so doing, “imply that I am a liar.”

On Friday, Trump praised his former staff secretary—who resigned after Willoughby and his other ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, reported his abusive behavior—and twice noted that Porter denied the charges. Then on Saturday, the president tweeted that, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” (The message may also be a reference to speechwriter David Sorensen, who also quit last week amid accusations of domestic abuse.)

In her essay, Willoughby writes:

“Everyone wants to talk about how Trump implied I am a not to be believed. As if Trump is the model of kindness and forgiveness. As if he readily acknowledges his own shortcomings and shows empathy and concern for others. I forgive him. Thankfully, my strength and worth are not dependent on outside belief — the truth exists whether the President accepts it or not. I think the issue here is deeper than whether Trump, or General John Kelly, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Senator Orrin Hatch, or Hope Hicks, or whether anyone else believes me or defends Rob. Society as a whole has a fear of addressing our worst secrets. (Just ask any African-American citizen). It’s as if we have a societal blind spot that creates an obstacle to understanding. Society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the reality of abuse.

Willoughby’s willingness to look beyond those who have doubted her (as well as protected and praised her former abuser), and focus on the larger problem is inspiring. She’s right: Nothing will ever change if we don’t listen to and believe those who dare to come forward to share their stories of abuse at the hands of the powerful.

And, as she notes, that’s not always easy. It can mean accepting a dark and painful truth about someone you previously respected or admired. In a perfect world, our leaders would help us through this difficult moment by setting an example. Alas, we are not living in a perfect world.

Willoughby concludes her piece by speaking directly to those who may find themselves in a similar position:

In light of the President’s and the White House’s continued dismissal of me and Colbie, I want to assure you my truth has not been diminished. I own my story and now that I have been compelled to share it, I’m not willing to cover it up for anyone. And for any men, women, or children currently in situations of abuse, please know: It is real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

So much for a sale. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has blocked the sale of the Weinstein Company, which was due to be sold to an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet for approximately $500 million. Schneiderman is charging that the company violated state and city laws that bar gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and coercion, and says that any sale must “ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly released.” Contreras-Sweet reportedly withdrew her offer as a result. Fortune

Changing the channel. Amazon has tapped NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke as the new head of its television and film production unit. She comes to the job nearly four months after the departure of former studio head Roy Price amid sexual harassment allegations. Fortune

• Downhill is looking up. U.S. ski star Mikaela Shiffrin is going for as many as four Alpine gold medals at the Pyeongchang Games. That’s a lofty goal: No Alpine skier, man or woman, has ever won more than three gold medals in one Olympics—and none has won more than four Olympic gold medals in a career. New York Times

• Decades of drama. Mary Cunningham, once VP of strategic planning at auto parts manufacturer Bendix Corporation, was one of the first women to hold a leadership role at a Fortune 100 company—and one the first people to be enveloped in a high-profile U.S. corporate sex scandal. Cunningham spent her career contending with rumors that she slept her way to the top, whispers that only got louder when she later married her former boss, Bill Agee. Now, in the wake of Agee’s death, she’s in the midst of a clash over his will with the children from his first marriage. New York Times

• Bye-bye, Brand. Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job. She had been next in the line of succession behind the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election. (The president has considered firing Rosenstein.) Brand’s next move is reportedly to become the global governance director at Walmart, the company’s top legal position. New York Times

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• Hicks in the hot seat. Despite having worked with President Trump longer than anyone he is not related to at the White House, Hope Hicks has largely remained out of the spotlight—until now. Her relationship with Rob Porter has many people asking what she knew and when. Washington Post

• Keeping up with Kim Yo Joug. South Koreans are captivated by Kim Yo Joug, who spent three days in the country as her brother Kim Jong Un’s special envoy at the Olympics. The news media parsed everything from her posture to her manners to her style of dress, which is perhaps unsurprising given how little we know about her—even her age is a subject of mystery. Washington Post

• #HerToo? California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D), chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and a leading figure in the state’s #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, has herself been accused of groping a former legislative staffer. The Assembly Rules Committee has launched an investigation into the allegations. Fortune

• Wynn board backs down. The board of Wynn Resorts says it has stopped an independent law-firm investigation into sexual-misconduct allegations against former CEO and chairman Steve Wynn, “even as pressure has mounted on directors to account for whether they failed to disclose information about his alleged conduct to regulators and investors.” The law firm recently said it would be setting up a telephone hotline and Web portal for current and former Wynn employees to provide information relevant to the investigation; the current status of those channels is unclear. WSJ

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ON MY RADAR

How Joy Reid of MSNBC became a heroine of the resistance  The New York Times

Steve Bannon thinks the Golden Globes signal the end of the patriarchy  Vanity Fair

‘Collateral damage’: Family blames suicide of former Rose McGowan manager on Weinstein scandal  Fortune

What happens when you witness sexual harassment in the workplace  CNNMoney

QUOTE

It sounds simple, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is to be myself. Early in my career I thought I had to develop and almost mimic the same strengths or the same relationships that those above me had. But every person brings something unique and different to the table…Double down on your own strengths, not what you see others doing.
Fortune's Leigh Gallagher