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Tom Brokaw accusations, Bill Cosby Verdict, Weinstein Movie: Broadsheet for April 27

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Claire Zillman here, filling in for Kristen and Val. Tom Brokaw is the latest newsman to be accused of sexual harassment, Bill Cosby is found guilty, and we dissect the absolutely absurd rumor about a new Charlie Rose show. Have a fabulous Friday.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• Show’s over. The years-long saga of sexual assault claims against Bill Cosby added what felt like a final chapter on Thursday when a jury found the once celebrated comedian guilty of sexual assault in a case brought by Andrea Constand.

Constand, a one-time Temple University employee whom Cosby had mentored, had accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home 14 years ago. The jury convicted Cosby on three counts—penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant—all felonies and punishable by up to 10 years in jail, though the terms could be served concurrently. In recent years, more than 50 women—recall that striking New York Magazine cover—have made remarkably similar claims against the 80-year-old, but only Constand’s were adjudicated at the criminal trial.

Immediately after the verdict, there was analysis of whether the #MeToo movement had weighed on the jury’s decision. In Cosby’s first trial last year, another jury had failed to agree on an outcome, teeing up the retrial that played out in Pennsylvania this month. Between then and now, of course, the #MeToo movement has triggered a seismic shift in how women’s claims of sexual misconduct against powerful men are perceived.

Did it sway the jury? We may not ever know that for sure, but it’s clear the decision was an easier one this time around. The jury deliberated for just two days this week. The jury last year spent six days contemplating the case without ever reaching a verdict.

The question of how #MeToo factored into Thursday’s decision is valid, since it’s notable if the movement is having a real effect on victims’ chances of receiving justice. And Cosby’s conviction fits all too well into the current #MeToo narrative of Hollywood giants being toppled mostly by unfamous women seeking to right past wrongs.

But it’s important to remember that the claims Constand and other women leveled against Cosby came way before the #MeToo movement got off the ground; before there was a chorus of women calling out men’s misdeeds, and before there was a rapt public taking them seriously. It’s possible that Constand may have benefited from the #MeToo momentum on Thursday, but it took an extra dose of courage for her to make her claims years ago, in an environment that was so much less accepting.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Bad news. Two women have accused former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw of unwanted advances. Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent, describes several encounters with Brokaw in the early 1990s, including groping and forcible attempts to kiss her. A second woman says that he acted inappropriately toward her when she was a 24-year-old production assistant. The allegations have raised more questions about the culture of NBC News, which also employed Matt Lauer.  Fortune

• Headed to the big screen. New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey—the pair that broke the initial story about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct—are going to get the Spotlight treatment. Two Hollywood production companies have acquired the movie rights to their story of taking down the Hollywood titan.  Deadline

• Fresh pair of eyes. Speaking of Weinstein, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi has taken over the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of rape allegations against the disgraced movie mogul. Illuzzi, who led the probe of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, has expertise in cold cases where there’s little to no physical evidence.  New York Times

• Plaintiffs’ plea. Fourteen women sent a letter to Uber’s 11-member board on Thursday insisting that the startup let their class action lawsuit alleging assault or harassment by Uber drivers go forward in open court. The women, who claim they were assaulted, groped, or raped by Uber drivers, want the board to release them from their arbitration clause so the lawsuit can be adjudicated in public. Uber argues that the women agreed to closed-door proceedings when they signed up for the app.  Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Mastercard appointed Caroline Louveaux as chief privacy officer.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• Coming out. In a cover story for Rolling Stone, musician and actress Janelle Monae opens up about being “a queer black woman in America”—the truth was in her music all along, she says—and about facing “the fear of being judged.” She says: “I’m open to learning more about who I am.” Rolling Stone

Bad medicine. ProPublica has a deep dive into the work of star child psychiatrist Mani Pavuluri, who, at one time, had helped the University of Illinois at Chicago become a leader in the field. But research violations—including inappropriate drug testing on children and falsified data—forced the school to repay a National Institute of Mental Health grant for a whopping $3.1 million. ProPublica

• Angela’s turn. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will get a decidedly less lavish welcome than her French counterpart when she takes her turn at the White House today. The fanfare will be minimal, but the stakes are still high. The EU’s exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs expires on Tuesday, and the Trump administration hasn’t said if it’ll extend it.  Washington Post

• Reboot redux. Amid the (absolutely absurd) rumors that Charlie Rose is eying a #MeToo themed talk show (he’d interview other disgraced men like Matt Lauer and Louis C.K., naturally), The Atlantic‘s Megan Garber considers why there’s so much obsessing over such comebacks. Essentially: “Americans love nothing more than second acts.” The Atlantic

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ON MY RADAR

“We’ve had a lot of silence about this for a long time:” Inside Ireland’s abortion battle Financial Times

Overlooked no more: Maria Bochkareva, who led women into battle in WWI New York Times

How do you talk about fertility at work? CNNMoney

With ‘Ocean’s 8’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ Awkwafina is the summer’s comedy secret weapon  L.A. Times

QUOTE

Those stories are a slap in the face to all the women who have lost their careers.
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who also has something to say about reports of #MeToo men's comebacks.