Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The leaders of Jefferies push back against reactions to #MeToo in finance, going to an elite college only affects women’s earnings, and Melania Trump’s spokeswoman defends her boss. Have a marvelous Monday.
• The force behind the first lady. This weekend, Melania Trump spokesperson Stephanie Grisham published a fiery op-ed defending the first lady on CNN.com. The piece seems to have been prompted by a recent story in which Kate Andersen Brower, a journalist who’s penned three books about life in the White House, wrote that Trump “doesn’t understand what it means to be first lady.”
Grisham slams Brower’s take, saying the author “intentionally ignores all the effort the first lady has put into fulfilling the traditional responsibilities of the role.” And it’s not just Brower who refuses to acknowledge Trump’s accomplishments, according to Grisham:
“… The media consistently ignores the first lady’s work on behalf of the people of this country, and children in particular, in favor of more trivial matters. And my defense, here, of the first lady will certainly draw criticism and be framed as another assault on the press, but this predictable reaction won’t make my observations any less true.”
To me, the piece is less notable for its criticism of the press (old hat for the Trump administration!) and more interesting when read as the latest profile-raising move by Grisham, whose name seems to be appearing in more and more stories these days.
Last week, Emma flagged a Washington Post article that describes Grisham’s rise from “lowly press wrangler” on the Trump campaign in 2015, to the two years she spent as Melania Trump’s comms director, to her recent promotion to the first lady’s deputy chief of staff for communications. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth your time. The story describes how Grisham, a single mom of two who’s earned a rep as Trump’s “enforcer,” isn’t afraid to buck White House protocol by staking out strong positions that are nothing like the platitudes typically issued by the East Wing. For instance: She delivered the statement that’s been credited with the ouster of deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, and even signs her name to official statements, an unusual move for a role that’s historically remained rather anonymous. Grisham, clearly, has no such intention.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Sheryl’s star power. BuzzFeed writer Anne Helen Petersen, who often analyzes celebrities through years of media coverage, applies her signature treatment to Sheryl Sandberg—a fascinating new angle on the countless Sandberg takes. “There was something missing from Sandberg’s image: her actual work at Facebook. The reality of Silicon Valley is that it’s commerce by any means necessary. And the reality of Sandberg is that she’s excellent at it,” Petersen writes. BuzzFeed
• +1 for Jefferies. At least two men on Wall Street are standing up to the “thoughtless, paranoid, and fundamentally wrong” stay-away-from-women school of thinking on #MeToo. “There is no excuse to exclude anyone from business meals, top-level meetings, presentations, mentoring, travel or social situations based on gender or any other designation,” Jefferies CEO Rich Handler and president Brian Friedman wrote in an open letter to their staff. Quartz
• Paying up. CBS said it will donate $20 million of the $120 million earmarked for Les Moonves’s severance to 18 different women’s organizations, including Time’s Up, RAINN, and the National Women’s Law Center (the board is still considering whether Moonves will see any of the remaining $100 million). The entertainment division of Time’s Up announced it would use its portion of the donation to start a new diversity initiative for producers and executives in Hollywood. Wall Street Journal
• Ivy League intel. Going to an elite college doesn’t change men’s earnings—but it boosts women’s by nearly 14%. One reason is a correlating factor: going to an elite college also reduces the likelihood that women will get married, keeping them in the workforce. Washington Post
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Cathy Engelbert will reportedly not serve a second term as Deloitte’s CEO, with the board nominating Joseph Ucuzoglu as her replacement; Janet Foutty, head of Deloitte’s U.S. consulting business, was nominated as chairman. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History named Anthea M. Hartig of the California Historical Society director of the museum, the first woman in the role.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• What’s up with the Women’s March? In today’s edition of “what is even going on with the Women’s March?” we take a look at a recent controversy surrounding an article in Tablet Magazine. The Jewish publication published an investigative story accusing Women’s March leaders of making anti-Semitic statements, and the organization’s ham-handed attempts at damage control have backfired. Meanwhile, the organization says the theme of its January 2019 march will be a federal policy platform called “the Women’s Agenda.” The Cut
• Heritage head. Kay Coles James is the first black woman to lead the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. Coles James, an alum of the George W. Bush administration, gives an interview about her background and “the elephant in the room” of a black woman running the “leading conservative organization in America.” The Atlantic
• Race to the public offering. Before Uber’s IPO, the company is working to clean up the remaining threads of its past PR and legal sagas—including a settlement over pay discrimination and a case over sexual assault committed during Uber rides. Bloomberg
• Legislating the legislators. Lawmakers are now personally financially liable for any settlements related to assault and harassment, after Congress passed new legislation last week. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
Susan Collins says she sees ‘nothing wrong’ with Republicans challenging Trump in 2020 Fortune
The 80-year fight for a female Santa MEL Magazine
The lady is a detective: Women in Victorian detective novels Lapham's Quarterly
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is ‘almost repaired’ after fracturing ribs Fortune