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Asia Argento, Sharp Objects, Melvin Watt: Broadsheet Aug. 22

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Asia Argento responds to sexual assault allegations, we learn what happens when your husband is your “sponsor,” and I am so over the bad lady reporter trope. Have a totally competent Wednesday.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

Tired trope. Have you been watching Sharp Objects on HBO? I have, and while it’s a pleasure to watch a show that includes so many great female performers and creators, Amy Adams’s character, Camille Preaker, is driving me bananas.

Why? Well, it all goes back to what The Atlantic‘s Sophie Gilbert dubs “the lazy trope of the unethical female journalist.” As Gilbert notes, Camille, a reporter sent back to her home town to cover a series of murders, spends the majority of the show drunk, lying, ignoring sources, doing some of the sloppiest reporting I’ve ever seen, and—of course—sleeping with one of her most important sources.

While you might be tempted to brush this off with an, “Eh, it’s a TV show, not a documentary,” Camille isn’t a one-off character. Indeed, she’s just the latest in a long line of fictional female journalists who are not only bad at their jobs—they actually violate the most essential rules of the profession. And I can testify that this kind of representation is infuriating to the real-life women doing the work. It’s a longtime annoyance that’s taken on new importance in an era when the media and its credibility is under daily attack.

In her Atlantic piece, Gilbert traces the stereotype of women reporters who get romantically involved with sources or break other basic rules of the job back to its earliest days and through its various modern iterations (House of Cards, Gilmore Girls, Thank You For Smoking.) While those characters—dubbed “slutty ambition monsters” in Marin Cogan’s 2015 New York piece—are the diverting fantasy, the reality is less cinematic but far more essential to our democracy. As Gilbert puts it: “visibly tired, multitasking women working relentlessly because they know the stories they’re reporting are stories that need telling.” The Atlantic

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

The tapes keep coming. Simone Grimes, an employee at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has filed harassment, retaliation and equal-pay claims against the agency and its director, Melvin Watt. Now she’s revealed that she has recordings of conversations with Watt, which she claims support the case she makes in her complaint and lawsuit. NPR

• Define ‘settled.’ Sen. Susan Collins (ME)—one of two Republican senators who back abortion rights—says that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, tells her he believes Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” Collins is a key vote on Kavanaugh and, according to this story, appears to be leaning toward a “yes.” Democrats, meanwhile, jumped on her phrasing, noting that he hasn’t indicated that he believes it was settled correctly, or that such a precedent cannot be limited or overturned. New York Times

• Toning down the targeting. Facebook is eliminating over 5,000 ad targeting options in another bid to prevent discriminatory advertisements from appearing on its service. The move comes after the Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint against the social network, alleging that it allows advertisers to unlawfully favor certain people by suggesting options based on gender or race.  Fortune

• Argento responds. Asia Argento has broken her silence on the Sunday NYT report detailing allegations that she sexually assaulted a 17-year-old boy, then payed him nearly $400,000 to remain silent. In a statement, she added that her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain insisted she pay off the accuser to avoid public scrutiny. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sarah Dickens Spoja, formerly of KKR Capstone, has joined Tipalti as CFO.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• Sponsored post. New York Times‘ Baghdad bureau chief, Margaret Coker, writes about the challenges of living in Dubai, which requires foreign women to be “sponsored” by their husbands. “By law, a husband, as a woman’s sponsor, must agree to any job offer his wife receives. Bank accounts can be opened only by a head of household — the man. He must give his approval for his wife to get a credit card or a liquor license, required to legally consume alcohol.”  New York Times

• Act fastThe Violence Against Women Act, which directs the national response to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, is set to expire at the end of September. House Democrats introduced a measure that would reauthorize the bill in July, but no action was taken before lawmakers went on recess. They’re back on Sept. 4 and will have to act fast if they want to beat the expiration date.  Huffington Post

• Drug money. Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for agriculture commissioner in Florida—and an outspoken proponent of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program—says Wells Fargo closed her campaign’s account after asking whether it would be receiving money from “lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry in any capacity.” Fried is calling on her supporters to boycott the bank.  New York Times

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ON MY RADAR

Saudi Arabia, which has been calling out Canada over women’s rights, may soon behead a female activist  Business Insider

How Cher stood up to a Hollywood director calling her “too old”  Vanity Fair

New York State investigates sexual harassment at the Spotted Pig  New York Times

QUOTE

I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.
Actress and Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran, on defying the racist and sexist harassment she's experienced online