Les Moonves, Jeff Fager, McDonald’s Strike: Broadsheet September 13
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! McDonald’s workers are striking against sexual harassment, another CBS exec is out, and a former TV writer takes Les Moonves to task in spectacular fashion. Have a great Thursday.
• A different kind of harassment. One thing's for sure: when Linda Bloodworth Thomason wrote this essay about Les Moonves, she came with guns a-blazing.
The TV writer behind Designing Women tells of her experience with the ex-CBS CEO in The Hollywood Reporter and, in short, she torches the guy.
She claims that after creating Designing Women—a bonafide hit for the network—she didn't work again for seven years, despite having a five-pilot deal with CBS, as Moonves rejected show idea after show idea. She says he was never explicit in what he disliked about her or her pitches, but she guesses it might've been her "loud-mouthed" female characters, her championing of "the New South," or her "admittedly aggressive, feminist agenda."
"People asked me for years, 'Where have you been? What happened to you?,'" she writes. "Les Moonves happened to me."
She also points out that under Moonves's leadership, CBS rolled out "highly profitable, male-dominated series," arguing that he's consigned women to "vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo."
Her essay, I assure you, is worth reading in full.
It's also reminiscent of the Huffington Post report that Moonves personally tried to ruin Janet Jackson's career after her wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl. In Moonves's view, Jackson wasn't contrite enough about the incident so he blacklisted her music from Viacom-owned radio stations and other components of CBS's sprawling media empire. (CBS declined to comment for the story.)
In both cases, Moonves is not accused of sexually harassing or assaulting either woman, but his alleged professional mistreatment of them certainly has its place in the #MeToo conversation. That's because, as Rebecca Traister argued in December, despite the salacious details of #MeToo stories that are of a sexual nature, such abuse is not wholly about sex.
"What it’s really about is work," she wrote for The Cut, "and women’s equality in the workplace, and more broadly, about the rot at the core of our power structures that makes it harder for women to do work because the whole thing is tipped toward men."
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• More than Moonves. Following Moonves's ouster, Jeff Fager, longtime executive producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes, is leaving the show for violating “company policy.” Fager was accused of touching employees inappropriately in one of Ronan Farrow’s articles about Moonves—allegations that bring home the extent to which CBS tolerated and fostered a hostile culture. CBS said Fager’s firing was not related to those allegations, and Fager released a statement in which he said he was fired because of a “harsh” text he sent to a reporter about a story. CNN Money
• Behind the golden arches. The #MeToo movement has reached the pinnacle of American business: McDonald's. Workers at McDonald's locations in 10 cities have voted to stage a one-day strike Sept. 18 in protest of sexual harassment at the fast-food chain. The strike's organizers say it will be the first strike in multiple states specifically targeting sexual harassment. Fortune
• Turn, turn, turn. CEO turnover reached a record high in August with 154 chief executives at U.S. companies leaving their roles, the most in a single month since tracking began in 2002. The good news: while 152 women stepped down as CEOs so far this year, 161 women replaced departing execs. The report sheds light on who's leading companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 500 level, where women at the top get more scarce. Fortune
• State of the Valley. Quartz has a new project featuring an in-depth look at the state of female founders. The data-heavy initiative found that women are more likely to launch B2C and healthcare companies, while men lean toward financial services and B2B startups. The series also includes a list of 200 "rising stars" among female-founded, venture-backed U.S. companies. At the top of the list: Zola's Shan-Lyn Ma, Away's Steph Korey, and Andela's Christina Sass. Quartz
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Leana Wen replaces Cecile Richards as president of Planned Parenthood and is the first doctor to lead the organization in 50 years. Amanda Hale will be publisher of a reincarnated Gawker, now owned by Bustle's Bryan Goldberg. Katherine Forrest, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York known for overseeing the case against the founder of the black market Silk Road, is leaving the bench to return to private practice at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Sarah Hofstetter will be the next president of comScore. Frances Frei, a Harvard Business School academic who joined Uber during the depths of its sexism crisis, is now advising the similarly embattled Riot Games.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The mysterious case of Fan Bingbing. Fan Bingbing is one of the most famous movie stars in China—and this summer she disappeared from public view. Fan was the subject of an investigation by Chinese tax authorities into tax evasion by movie stars. She stopped posting on Weibo and appearing in public, and the saga has prompted the Chinese film industry to reevaluate its dependence on star power. Bloomberg
• Terr-TIFF-ic. The Toronto International Film Festival this year features greater representation of female photographers. After observers noted last year that the pros photographing stars on the red carpet were almost exclusively male, the festival reached out to publications to nudge them to "consider diversity" while assigning photographers to cover the event. TIFF also boosted accreditation of underrepresented media by 20%. The Hollywood Reporter
• Dream big. Catalina Cruz is one of several young women—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib—running for office this year in response to the Trump administration. Cruz, vying for New York's state assembly, is the first Dreamer to run for public office in the state. Mother Jones
• Over the moon. Vanessa Wyche is the first black woman to serve as deputy director at NASA's Johnson Space Center. She joined the center's space life sciences division in 1989, the first woman hired full-time in the department and one of a handful of female engineers across the NASA facility. Houston Chronicle
ON MY RADAR
'Unearth Women': A travel magazine with a focus on feminism New York Times
Men who scream at work aren't 'passionate.' They're abusive Glamour
Why some parents turn boys' names into girls' names The Atlantic