Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The WNBA gets a proposed new contract, Nancy Pelosi starts to move impeachment from the House to the Senate, and Democrats debate whether a woman can win. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
– Answering The Question. The liveliest moment of the Democratic debate last night hinged on a question that has dogged the party—and the country at large—for years now: Can a woman be elected U.S. president?
The matter came up during the debate in Des Moines after it seemed to sever the otherwise friendly relationship between progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders this week. (“Mom and dad are fighting” is how one left-wing activist characterized the rift.)
For a refresher, the controversy bubbled up when CNN reported that during a private meeting at Warren’s home in 2018, Sanders told Warren that he did not believe a woman could win an election against President Donald Trump. Warren later confirmed the report in a statement: “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.” Sanders, meanwhile, denied it wholeheartedly.
“What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could,” Sanders said. “Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”
In The Cut, Rebecca Traister has an interesting theory about the senators’ differing recollections of the meeting; that “what Sanders himself said, in his denial…is not at odds with what Elizabeth Warren may well have heard.” Sanders’ expressed concern about the challenges of a woman running against an incumbent with misogynistic tendencies resonates with plenty of voters. That “lots of people feel this way doesn’t mean it’s true that a woman can’t win,” Traister writes. “But it also doesn’t mean that worrying that it might be true is inherently sexist. And it doesn’t mean that hearing it or some version of this conviction all the time—including from your allies and future competitors—as you gear up to run for president isn’t absolutely maddening…”
Warren’s initial statement to CNN aimed to defuse the conflict. “I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry.”
But she didn’t necessarily shy away from the conflict—and the age-old question—last night, as she seemed to pivot to embrace her role as the leading female candidate.
“Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised and it’s time for us to attack it head-on,” she said.
Referring to the four men on stage, Warren added, “Collectively they have lost 10 elections.” She then acknowledged Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a zinger of a line: “The only people on this stage who have won every single election they have been in are the women: Amy and me.”
Underlying reports and commentary about the Warren-Sanders spat is a sort of disbelief that the issue of women’s electability is engulfing the Democrats. This, after Hillary Clinton secured the 2016 nomination and the popular vote and two years after a record number of female candidates—many emboldened by Clinton’s loss to Trump—ran for office and, to Warren’s point, won.
Also… it’s a big day for the Fortune team! This morning, we launched a new site, where you’ll find the best of business all in one place: strategic insights, deep-dive stories, and exclusive access to what executives are thinking. To access all the new content, register for free. Also shiny and new: a gorgeous magazine redesign (subscribe!), a video hub, and a fresh crop of newsletters on the way—Broadsheet readers may be especially interested in, ahem, The Broadside, a monthly bulletin for women looking to take their careers to the next level (sign up to check it out here.)
Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Slam dunk. WNBA athletes have a groundbreaking proposed new contract, allowing players to earn up to $500,000—triple their current limit—and providing benefits like maternity leave, a childcare stipend, and space in arenas for nursing mothers. (The agreement still must be approved by the league’s board of governors and union members.) WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert called the contract a "big bet on women." New York Times
- Olympic choice. Kimia Alizadeh, 21, won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics, making her the only Iranian woman ever to earn a medal at the games. Now she's defected from Iran, saying she was tired of being used in propaganda even though she was "one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran." Alizadeh says she was mistreated by authorities and made her announcement in an Instagram post. Slate
- Special delivery. Get ready for a big day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote to deliver articles of impeachment to the Senate today. Pelosi will soon appoint impeachment managers (or prosecutors) to handle the case against President Trump. Washington Post
- Dern on Dern. An oral history of Laura Dern by Laura Dern? Yes, please. Fortune sat down with the three-time Oscar nominee as she recalled career-highlight moments from 40 years on screen. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center appointed Roxanne Taylor chief marketing and communications officer. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise SVP and chief information officer Archana Deskus will join Intel in the same role. Longtime Uber exec Rachel Holt left the company (her most recent role was head of new mobility); she will launch a venture capital firm called Construct Capital. Lenovo's Kim Stevenson joined NetApp as SVP and GM of its foundational data services business unit.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Not in Kansas anymore. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to run for an open Senate seat in Kansas. He decided not to, emboldening Kansas Democrats, including state Sen. Barbara Bollier. She brought in record fundraising online after Pompeo's decision was announced, and Democrats think they have a shot at flipping the seat held by Republicans for more than a century. Washington Post
- Wharton goes west. Edith Wharton was known for continuing to edit her books long after they first published. Her only known copy of The Age of Innocence was tucked away in her "chateau in southeastern France." Now it's returning to her former Lenox, Masschusetts home, now a museum, in time for the novel's 2021 centennial and Wharton's 158th birthday next week. New York Times
- IUD controversy. Teens in Maryland have the right to get birth control on their own, without parental knowledge or consent. But a new bill would require parental approval for IUDs or implants, and some contraceptive access advocates say it's part of a larger push to limit teenagers' access to birth control of all kinds. Vox
ON MY RADAR
#MeToo voices aren't too biased for the Harvey Weinstein jury. They’re necessary Washington Post
Why we can't get enough celebrity mom cookbooks Romper
When a whisper network fails The Outline
"I think for women, knowing you can put on a dress 20 years later—it resonated. It was like, Yes, you know, life is not over at 20!”
-Jennifer Lopez on wearing her famous Versace jungle dress last year