Robert Scoble, George H.W. Bush, Another Uber Lawsuit: Broadsheet for Oct. 26
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Former President George H.W. Bush is accused of groping, Uber gets sued by three Latina engineers, and we get another blood-boiling non-apology apology. Have a productive Thursday.
• Apology not accepted. We’ve all read a lot of infuriating non-apology apologies over the last few years, but this post by prominent tech blogger Robert Scoble is… something else.
Scoble, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, responded yesterday with a post—titled “No, of that I’m innocent”—which he says his lawyer advised him not to write. He should have listened.
Instead, he began by insisting that his intent was to “address the issue head on with open and honest dialogue.” He then proceeds to accuse publications that have reported on the accusations as “gossip blogs” and provides his own version of his interactions with four of the women who have spoken out against him (sometimes skipping key aspects of their claims).
There’s plenty of infuriating material in the 2,000-plus word post, but let’s focus on the following:
“If I were guilty of all the things said about me I would still not be in a position to have sexually harassed anyone. I don’t have employees, I don’t cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual Harassment requires that I have such power.”
This, of course, is a fundamental misunderstanding of sexual harassment. Sure, harassment can come from an investor, boss, or anyone else with the direct influence over your job. But it can also come from someone who simply holds a lot of power in your industry—as Scoble does in the tech world. He was clearly in a position to affect these women’s careers. (For an interesting dive into the legal interpretation of sexual harassment, check out this Ars Technica story.)
Scoble’s attempt to shrug off his accusers’ claims by establishing this narrow (and false) version of sexual harassment also misses a broader point: harassment can take many forms. Some guy at a party, a man yelling from a passing car, a hand “accidentally” grabbing you in the subway—I could go on. Until we recognize the true scope of the issue, that open dialogue Scoble claims to want will never happen.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Groper-in-chief? Two actresses have come forward saying that President George H.W. Bush touched them inappropriately. Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick both tell similar stories of the former president groping them during group photos (Bush reportedly put his arm around Grolnick and said, “Do you want to know who my favorite magician is? David Cop-a-Feel!”) Bush’s rep’s response: “At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke—and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”
• Air time for an abuser. Earlier this week, convicted domestic abuser Gurbaksh Chahal, who is the co-founder of LydianCoin, appeared on a panel at cryptocurrency conference CoinAgenda. For context: Surveillance camera footage reportedly once showed Chahal kicking his girlfriend 117 times and smothering her face with a pillow as he told her: “I’m going to kill you.” So, it’s no surprise that the conference is now coming under (deserved) criticism for providing the repeat abuser with a public platform. IBT
• Today in Uber. Three Latina engineers—Ingrid Avendano, Roxana del Toro Lopez, and Ana Medina—have sued Uber for discrimination based of their gender and race. They say the company’s compensation and other practices discriminate against women and people of color, causing them to lose out on earnings, promotions and benefits. Fortune
• Justice for Doe. Jane Doe, the 17-year-old undocumented immigrant who has been at the center of a weeks-long legal battle with the Trump administration, underwent an abortion procedure yesterday. The administration has sought to block her from leaving the detention facility where she’s being held—effectively barring her from having the procedure—until a federal appeals court ruled in her favor on Tuesday. NPR
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: SurveyMonkey has hired Robin Ducot as CTO. She was most recently SVP of Product Engineering at DocuSign. Apple has hired Jay Hunt, a British TV exec who has held top roles at Channel 4, the BBC and Channel 5, to its new creative chief of European video operations.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• See no evil? James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, addressed the New York Times report that the company granted Bill O’Reilly a contract extension the month after he agreed to a $32 million settlement with Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl, saying he was unaware of the size of the payout until recently. New York Times
• Speaking of O’Reilly... In the latest of her series buzzy of op-eds for the Times, Lindy West writes about Megyn Kelly’s recent smackdown of O’Reilly and “the uncomfortable tension that’s risen to the fore since the Weinstein story hit: What happens when #MeToo meets ‘I’m not a feminist, but’?” New York Times
• Investing in ignorance. New research from a pair of business school professors finds that users of an investment platform were about 25% less likely to be interested investment advice given by someone with a female-sounding name (even when the advisor in question was actually a man). Harvard Business Review
• She’s on it. Kayla Newman, the 19-year-old who coined the term “on fleek,” is launching a hair company called—what else?—On Fleek Extensions and has a cosmetics line in the works. The Cut
ON MY RADAR
Sexual predators love exploiting this shady legal tactic Fortune
Startup O.school raises $800,000 to improve sex education TechCrunch
She knew she’d deliver her son while she’s in jail. She didn’t expect to do it in chains Cosmopolitan
The most hated woman on the Russian internet Wired