If you happened to pick up the Times Sunday “Styles” section this weekend, perhaps you noticed that the framing of the long profile of Wendi Murdoch felt a little familiar. We learned that Murdoch “has emerged with her own independent career.” She is, it continues, “a world-class networker, collecting powerful friends and brokering connections. She hosts annual dinner parties with powerful women, hosts book parties for friends, and regularly holds get-togethers.” How did she come by this newfoundreputation?
“Until the cream-pie incident, she’d really been branded the classic younger wife with a tinge of racism and stereotyping,” said Andrew Butcher, a former senior communications executive at News Corporation. “That turned everything around forher.”
“It seemed to finally give the marriage legitimacy,” headded.
In short, Wendi Murdoch — beautiful, social, and far younger than her powerful husband — is not a trophy wife, we are meant to understand, and all it took was a little cream pie to get us to notice. And yet the whole rehashing of the ways she’d been tagged one by other people seems a subtly undermining way of going about pointing thatout.
If that framing did indeed seem less than fresh, maybe you read the “Style” section’s April profile of Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey, the “pretty young second wife” of Paramount Pictures’ CEO, who, we were cautioned, should not be underestimated because of her youth and goodlooks.
But don’t call her a trophy wife. Mrs. Grey may have a Lilliputian figure, but she has big ambitions for a fashion studio and vintage clothing line that she runs from this town’s trendy shoppingdistrict.
How big? Asked that question the other day, she picked up a copy of Salvador Dali’s 1942 autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali,” and pointed to a passage: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily eversince.”
Because trophy wives never open vanity fashion lines, you see. Nor do they get involved in projects like thisone:
In December, Italian Vogue posted on its Web site an over-the-top video profile of Mrs. Grey. It began with text reading “Meet the Princess of Bel-Air” and depicted her as a self-involved one-percenter riding in a chauffeured sedan and fixated on what to wear while walking thedog.
“I’m taking my role as a wife and a lover and a stepmother very seriously, meaning I want to be really, really good at it,” she said to the camera, sitting on a bathroom counter in a short robe and smoking a cigarette in a Marlene Dietrich pose, her makeup heavy and her head wrapped in a redscarf.
Or then there’s the recent profile of Trudie Styler, or, as the Times headline declared, “More Than Mrs. Sting,” a romp through Styler’s socialite life and presidential ogling, that ends on a wistful little note meant, it seems, again, to undermine the whole premise of thearticle.
From time to time, Ms. Styler has been asked to imagine what her life would have been had she not married Sting. “I have no idea,” she said, then added after a beat, “For sure, I would have had a life in which I would be in the drivingseat.”
The paper’s refusal to profile decorative wives of the rich and famous without nodding at their brain power and ambition might date back to 1995, when the paper of record declared that among the rich, “the days of the old-fashioned trophy wife — long on glamour, short on resume — are on the wane.” But is that actually the old-fashioneddefinition?
Consider a 2007 profile of Fred Thompson’s then-40-year-old wife Jeri Kehn Thompson, whose “youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blond hair” were described alongside this rather bald question: “Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?” The piece (“Will Her Face Determine His Fortune?” as if his hot wife were the main problem with Thompson’s candidacy) explained: “Although it often has a pejorative spin, the term originally meant the second (or third) wife of a corporate titan, who was younger, beautiful and — equally important — accomplished in her own right, which describes Mrs. Thompson.” The paper, at least there, wants us to return to a different, original (kinder?) meaning of trophy wife — one that, in the more recent profiles of not-trophy-wives Murdoch and Huysentruyt, seems to have been reimagined onceagain.
The “Style” section, after all, needs to be able to have it both ways to pull in readers for profiles like these — gossipy fun that has at least a facade of seriousness. After all, even an old, powerful paper like the Times isn’t above trotting out a few fluffy, superficially attractive pages a couple times a week. But don’t call it a trophysection.
Netanyahu is trying to cling to power, but his central rival isn’t having it
Benny Gantz rejects Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of a unity government, saying that he will not enter into any coalition led by an Israeli premier facing corruption charges. Bibi, looking increasingly desperate, says he is “surprised and disappointed”. Oh I’m sure you are, Bibi.
Buttigieg’s health plan is more like Biden’s than Bernie’s
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Thursday unveiled his plan to reform the U.S. healthcare system by offering everyone coverage under the federal Medicare program, but not forcing people to give up private heath insurance plans.
“For years, Washington politicians have allowed the pharmaceutical industry, giant insurance companies, and powerful hospital systems to profit off of people when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable,” said Buttigieg, who is mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
“My ‘Medicare for All Who Want It’ plan will create a health care system that puts power in the hands of each American.”
Kamala Harris has a plan to fix her tanking campaign
Kamala Harris is putting her stumbling campaign on the line with a new Iowa-or-bust strategy: She’s shifting away from the closed-door fundraisers that dominated her summer calendar to focus on retail politicking in the crucial kickoff state.
Harris huddled with top campaign officials Tuesday in Baltimore to discuss the next steps as a series of polls show her plummeting into the mid-single digits. She’s not expected to significantly alter her message. Instead, Harris is planning to make weekly visits to the state and nearly double the size of her 65-person ground operation, sources familiar with the discussions told POLITICO.
Also changing his tune after Netanyahu’s election setback: the prime minister’s good friend Donald Trump
President Trump appeared to distance himself from embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, declining to offer either encouragement or praise to his most enthusiastically loyal foreign ally now that he faces potential electoral defeat.
Speaking a day after Israeli elections that at best leave Netanyahu weakened, Trump seemed cool to the Israeli conservative who has touted his ideological lockstep with Trump as a chief reelection credential.
Trump said he had not spoken to Netanyahu, a man he has described as a close friend. He then noted that the election is close while playing down Netanyahu’s importance to the alliance between the United States and Israel.
With his future in doubt, Netanyahu announces he’d like to form a unity government with rival Gantz
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday there was no choice but to form a unity government with his rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, after the country’s election ended in a deadlock.
His statement came as the results of the election came into clearer focus. With 93% of the vote counted on Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party and Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party were tied with enough votes for 32 seats each in the 120-seat parliament, known as the Knesset, according to an analysis by the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank.
Mr. Gantz’s bloc of centrist, left-wing and Arab parties appeared set to get 55 seats, while Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition of right-wing and religious parties would get 56. Either would need the help of the small party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which looks set to get nine seats and is calling for a unity government between Likud and Blue and White.
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, the last member of the Democratic dynasty serving in Washington, plans to formally announce Saturday that he is launching a primary challenge to Senator Edward J. Markey, an audacious political move that could open fissures within the Democratic Party and reshape the Massachusetts political landscape.
Kennedy will make his announcement at a breakfast with supporters and local community members at East Boston Social Centers, according to two people close to him. From there, Kennedy will tour the state through Monday, highlighting issues he plans to center his campaign on, including health care access, mental health and addiction issues, climate change, and civil rights, the people said.
Kennedy informed Markey of his decision Wednesday, one of the people added.
Another sign that Warren is doing damage to the Sanders campaign?
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quietly parted ways with his Iowa political director in recent weeks, his campaign confirmed Wednesday, part of a series of recent staff shake-ups in key early states.
The campaign announced in March that Jess Mazour would be political director in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, part of a first wave of early state hires. She is no longer on the team.
“We’ll continue to make moves that we feel best position this campaign to win,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a written statement after The Washington Post reached out to the campaign about the matter.
A campaign official who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the situation said Mazour was let go in late summer and will not be replaced. Mazour, who was a high-ranking campaign aide but not the director of the Iowa effort, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The campaign did not publicly announce her departure at the time.
Shockingly, the NRA is still not on board with background checks
The White House this week began circulating a much-anticipated gun background check proposal to Republicans on Capitol Hill, though it’s unclear if President Donald Trump supports it.
The White House’s plan would expand background checks to all commercial gun sales, including gun show sales, according to a document obtained by POLITICO and first reported by The Daily Caller. It’s similar to a proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Under the White House proposal, background checks would be conducted through federal firearm licensees, also known as FFLS, or a newly created group of licensed transfer agents. Sellers would choose voluntarily whether the federal firearm licensees or a transfer agent keeps records of the transactions.
Gun violence hits America’s youth and rural states the hardest and has reached the highest levels in decades, a report released Wednesday by Democrats on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee has found.
U.S. teens and young adults, ages 15-24, are 50 times more likely to die by gun violence than they are in other economically advanced countries, according to the 50-state breakdown.
In 2017 — the year of a mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 and injured hundreds — nearly 40,000 people died from gun-related injuries, including 2,500 school children, the report said, noting that six in 10 gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides.
That year marked the first time firearms killed more people than motor vehicle accidents, the report said.
Trump says a military strike against Iran is an option in response to attack on Saudi oil facilities but pushes back against Graham for decrying past restraint as weakness, saying it is too easy to get into Middle East wars. “How did going into Iraq work out?”
Could universal background checks actually happen?
President Donald Trump may still be thinking about supporting expanded background checks for gun sales after all.
Driving the news: A memo titled “Idea for New Unlicensed-Commercial-Sale Background Checks” was being circulated as Attorney General Bill Barr and the White House’s legislative affairs director Eric Ueland visited this week with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Why it matters: The president was expected to say this week what, if any, gun control legislation he is prepared to support. Advocates were doubtful he would support expanded background checks because polling suggested it could hurt his standing with core supporters.
East Texas was facing days of heavy rains and flash flooding Wednesday as Tropical Storm Imelda, downgraded to a tropical depression, still packed a dangerous punch for millions of residents.
Tropical Storm Imelda made landfall Tuesday afternoon near Freeport, 60 miles south of Houston. Imelda, crawling north at about 5 mph, was the first named storm to slam onto Texas shores since the staggering devastation of Hurricane Harvey two years ago.
Some areas could see up to 18 inches of rain before the storm rolls away at week’s end, the National Weather Service warned. By early Wednesday, more than 10 inches of rain already had been reported in St. Bernard and Chocolate Bayou.
India banned the production, import and sale of electronic cigarettes on Wednesday, a public health decision that will dash the expansion plans of companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International in the country.
The ban will be imposed through an executive order and will include jail terms of up to three years for offenders. It was not clear whether the use of such products would be prohibited.
India’s health ministry, which proposed the ban, had said it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an “epidemic” among children and young adults.
Many fewer women are having abortions than even a few years ago
Abortion in the United States has decreased to record low levels, a decline that may be driven more by increased access to contraception and fewer women becoming pregnant than by the proliferation of laws restricting abortion in some states, according to new research.
“Abortion rates decreased in almost every state and there’s no clear pattern linking these declines to new restrictions,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, which issued the findings in a report and policy analysis on Wednesday.
The institute, which supports abortion rights, periodically compiles abortion data by surveying hospitals and abortion clinics, and by reviewing information from health departments and other sources.
The institute estimated that there were about 862,000 abortions in 2017, nearly 200,000 fewer than in 2011. The abortion rate — the number of abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age — dropped to 13.5 in 2017 from 16.9 in 2011, the lowest rate since abortion became legal nationwide in 1973.