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Joe Biden, Netflix Pregnancy Lawsuit, Lesley McSpadden: Broadsheet April 4

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Elizabeth Warren unveils a bill that would jail negligent corporate executives, Netflix is sued over pregnancy discrimination, and Joe Biden struggles to say the “s” word. Have a lovely Thursday.


• The non-apology apology. Why is it so hard to say “sorry?”

In the latest update to the saga of Joe Biden’s decades-long habit of getting in people’s (usually women’s) personal space, the former Veep yesterday released a short Twitter video with the following message:

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

You’ll notice one word that is conspicuously missing from both the tweet and the video itself. (A lot of people on Twitter sure did!) “I get it, I get it,” Biden says, even as his statement demonstrates that he does not. The idea that social norms are “changing” misses a vital fact: space-invading behavior has always made some women uncomfortable, but until recently few have felt able to say so—particularly to someone as powerful as a senator or the vice president of the U.S.

Biden, as he reminds us in the video, has done a lot of important work to support women over the course of his career. But that does not relieve him of the responsibility to actually hear the women who said his actions unnerved them and provide them with a simple but powerful offering: an apology.

His failure to do so reminded a few observers of his history with Anita Hill. While the former vice president has repeatedly said he regrets his role in the Clarence Thomas hearings (though some have taken issue with his wording), Hill says he has yet to apologize to her personally. In 2018, she told Elle: “It’s become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we’re not expecting company. ‘Oh,’ we say, ‘is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?’”

Kristen Bellstrom


Another kind of streaming war. Netflix and Disney are facing off in streaming video … but they’re tied today when it comes to gender discrimination allegations. At Netflix, Tania Zarak, a former manager in the streaming service’s international originals division, alleges she was fired after she revealed she was pregnant. Her lawsuit claims that although Netflix offered up to a year of paid parental leave, the company secretly retaliated against employees who took it; Netflix says the claims “lack merit.” At Disney, a lawsuit alleges that the company paid women less than men for the same roles.

CEO ‘incentives.’ In an op-ed and in a new bill she unveiled Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that corporate executives must face jail time for overseeing massive scams—not just for intentionally breaking the law, but for negligence. “If top executives knew they would be hauled out in handcuffs for failing to reasonably oversee the companies they run, they would have a real incentive to better monitor their operations and snuff out any wrongdoing before it got out of hand,” she says. Washington Post

The real-life Succession. It’s worth spending some time with this three-part feature on the Murdoch empire. Some tidbits: Kathryn Hufschmid, the more liberal wife of James Murdoch who used to work for the Clinton Climate Initiative, tried to broker a meeting that never happened between Rupert Murdoch and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaigns; Elisabeth and Prudence Murdoch tried, along with James, to sell their stakes in Fox to their father and more conservative brother Lachlan. Plus: Ivanka Trump and Wendi Deng Murdoch make appearances. New York Times

Foulkes’s fixes. Hudson’s Bay Company, of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, saw retail sales fall in its fourth quarter, something CEO Helena Foulkes attributed to cheaper merchandise targeting customers at locations near Sears stores—but sold at those prices across retail elsewhere. “The good news about all of this is it’s fixable,” Foulkes said. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Accenture acquired Droga5, the ad agency headed by global CEO Sarah Thompson; Thompson will be staying on at Accenture. Lynn Vojvodich, formerly of Salesforce and Andreessen Horowitz, joins the board of Dell TechnologiesStacy C. Hollander stepped down from her role leading the American Folk Art Museum’s exhibition program. Sonos hires Brittany Bagley as CFO. British defense contractor Babcock International appointed former Royal Dutch Shell executive Ruth Cairnie as chair, the first woman in the role. BuzzFeed’s Shani Hilton will now be deputy managing editor for news at the Los Angeles Times.


Mothers of the movement. Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, ran for city council in Ferguson, Missouri. She lost the race; if she’d won, she would have followed in the footsteps of Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, who also pursued elected office after her son, Jordan Davis, was killed. Fran Griffin, also an activist who has worked on reform in Ferguson, won the Ferguson seat instead. Vox

Chicago’s first couple. The election of Chicago’s first openly gay (and first black female) mayor Tuesday night means that the city now also has its first openly gay first lady. Amy Eshleman is married to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot. Eshleman is a learning specialist who worked at the Chicago Public Library for 18 years. Chicago Business

New design, same problems. You might have seen stories—and photos—circulating a few weeks ago of Tia Clinic, a members-only, Instagram-friendly New York gynecologists’ office. But, Jezebel reports, the controversial clinic has scaled back after running into some of the hurdles faced by normal, non-Instagrammable doctors’ offices. It’s no longer accepting new “members,” and existing members are having trouble securing appointments. Jezebel

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma HinchliffeShare it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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