Why Female Journalists Shouldn’t Have to Clean Up the Messes of Their Male Co-Workers

On Monday morning, Norah O’Donnell, co-anchor of CBS This Morning opened the show with serious news: Les Moonves, her boss and the longtime head of CBS, had resigned the night before after a second New Yorker story broke with new allegations of sexual assault and harassment from six women. That’s in addition to the six women who raised sexual misconduct allegations against Moonves in Ronan Farrow’s first New Yorker story, which was published in July.

That means, for the second time in less than a year, O’Donnell was tasked with reporting on sexual misconduct allegations involving men at her own network (the first instance was her reporting of Charlie Rose’s suspension from CBS after eight women accused him of sexual harassment). The same goes for O’Donnell’s female colleague, Jericka Duncan. After opening Monday morning’s segment, O’Donnell kicked to Duncan, who was covering the fallout of the New Yorker pieces.

After Duncan’s report, O’Donnell said: “This is really hard. It is. This is hard for everybody at CBS News. The most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this #MeToo movement, and he’s my boss. Or, he was my boss, and so that makes it really hard to comment on it.” A visibly upset O’Donnell went on to note that “there is no excuse for this alleged behavior” and “women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.”

Norah O’Donnell reports the demise of her boss, Les Moonves, on CBS This Morning.

At the end of the segment, a bumbling John Dickerson (O’Donnell’s co-host) offered that he was “really proud” to hear her say that and he “couldn’t agree more” with what she said. For his part, Vladimir Duthiers (the other male co-host) had no comment except to note that Duncan would continue to report on these developments.

And that she did. Two days later, Duncan revealed that she had become the subject of her own reporting: On Sunday night, she received threatening text messages from 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager after she did her job as a journalist and asked for comment on the most recent allegations about him in the New Yorker.

Why are professional women forced into the maternal role of emotional soother—the one who says: There, there, sweetie. Everything will be OK. Since when is that part of the job description of being a female journalist?

In a series of angry texts, Fager responded that she would be “held responsible” for harming him if she repeated the allegations without her own reporting on the subject. He went on to say: “Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me, and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up, that will become a serious problem.”

That’s right, an executive threatened a colleague for trying to do her job, which is investigative reporting. On top of that, Duncan was then charged with reporting on the firing of Moonves the next morning, right after being threatened by another powerful male executive at her own company.

CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan becomes the subject of her own reporting.

Here’s my question: Why, out of all the reporters at CBS, were Duncan and O’Donnell the ones tasked with reporting the bad behavior of their male co-workers? Why weren’t co-hosts Dickerson and Duthiers assigned this particular report? In other words, why wasn’t a man given this responsibility? Why, when it comes to sexual assault and harassment allegations, are women the ones tasked with not only telling their male co-workers’ stories but also doing the emotional labor of making everyone feel OK about it?

This week’s news at CBS reminded me of a teary-eyed Savannah Guthrie reading Matt Lauer’s statement of apology on-air last year (the second day in a row that her job entailed discussing her former colleague’s alleged behavior) and Mika Brzezinski reporting the suspension of MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin and reading his statement.

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb report on Matt Lauer’s firing. Where are Al Roker and Willie Geist?

It is disturbing to me that women are always the ones charged with cleaning up the messes of their male co-workers and contextualizing it for betrayed viewers who networks fear they’ll lose—because God forbid the networks hemorrhage even more money over these scandals while potentially having to give huge payouts to the men in question.

Men screw up. Women fix it. It’s an all too familiar narrative—and I’m tired of it.

Why must women, who are still paid less than their male counterparts, be the ones to put on a sad face and express the appropriate shock and sympathy so that viewers at home feel comforted? Why are professional women forced into the maternal role of emotional soother—the one who says: There, there, sweetie. Everything will be OK. Since when is that part of the job description of being a female journalist?

Mika Brzezinski reports on the suspension of MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin.

The women in these situations keep their jobs and remain on clean-up duty while their disgraced male colleagues try to collect huge payouts and hide in their million dollar mansions to do some “soul-searching” while they wait for the dust to settle. Matt Lauer’s attorneys allegedly tried to get him $30 million (NBC didn’t pay) and Moonves could potentially receive $120 million pending an investigation. CBS agreed to allocate $20 million of Moonves’ $140 million payout for #MeToo causes.

That’s not enough.

Time’s Up has called for the board of CBS to give the money to organizations that address sexual harassment and workplace safety. In a letter to the CBS board, the organization said: “That is $120 million dollars that will either go to Mr. Moonves or back into the coffers of the company that allowed the culture created by Mr. Moonves to continue. Or that $120 million can create change by going to organizations – and there are many impactful organizations – that can help women of all kinds. The choice is yours. But the answer is obvious. We ask that you not dishonor the bravery of those who have come forward by spending that money unwisely.”

Time’s Up also called on the board to “review and remake not only the structure, but the culture, of CBS and take ongoing responsibility for issues of safety and equity” in the company. “You can cling to a status quo as it crumbles around you,” it said. “Or you can demonstrate what happens when true leadership embraces the future.”

Because the truth is, what the #MeToo movement has revealed is a systemic problem. It’s not one that can be solved by calling out a few (or even several dozen individuals. Until we have more female leadership and a culture that rewards integrity and transparency—instead of power and money—the problem will only persist.

The next time a male executive screws up, maybe put them on the air to make their own announcements about their bad behavior and subsequent firings. Don’t ask a woman to do it. We’ve done enough already.

Abigail Libers lives in Brooklyn and has written for New York and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Why Female Journalists Shouldn’t Have to Clean Up the Messes of Their Male Coworkers

On Monday morning, Norah O’Donnell, coanchor of CBS This Morning, opened the show with serious news: Les Moonves, her boss and the longtime head of CBS, had resigned the night before after a second New Yorker story broke with new allegations of sexual assault and harassment from six women. That’s in addition to the six women who raised sexual misconduct allegations against Moonves in Ronan Farrow’s first New Yorker story on him, which was published in July.

That means, for the second time in less than a year, O’Donnell was tasked with reporting on sexual misconduct allegations involving men at her own network (the first instance was her reporting of Charlie Rose’s suspension from CBS after eight women accused him of sexual harassment). The same goes for O’Donnell’s female colleague, Jericka Duncan. After opening Monday morning’s segment, O’Donnell kicked to Duncan, who was covering the fallout from the New Yorker pieces.

After Duncan’s report, O’Donnell said: “This is really hard. It is. This is hard for everybody at CBS News. The most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this #MeToo movement, and he’s my boss. Or, he was my boss, and so that makes it really hard to comment on it.” A visibly upset O’Donnell went on to note that “there is no excuse for this alleged behavior” and “women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.”

Norah O’Donnell reports the demise of her boss, Les Moonves, on CBS This Morning.

At the end of the segment, a bumbling John Dickerson (O’Donnell’s cohost) offered that he was “really proud” to hear her say that and he “couldn’t agree more” with what she said. For his part, Vladimir Duthiers (the other male cohost) had no comment except to note that Duncan would continue to report on these developments.

And that she did. Two days later, Duncan revealed that she had become the subject of her own reporting: On Sunday night, she received threatening text messages from 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager after she did her job as a journalist and asked for comment on the most recent allegations about him in the New Yorker.

Why are professional women forced into the maternal role of emotional soother—the one who says: There, there, sweetie. Everything will be OK. Since when is that part of the job description of being a female journalist?

In a series of angry texts, Fager responded that she would be “held responsible” for harming him if she repeated the allegations without her own reporting on the subject. He went on to say: “Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me, and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up, that will become a serious problem.”

That’s right, an executive threatened a colleague for trying to do her job, which is investigative reporting. On top of that, Duncan was then charged with reporting on the firing of Moonves the next morning, right after being threatened by another powerful male executive at her own company.

CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan becomes the subject of her own reporting.

Here’s my question: Why, out of all the reporters at CBS, were Duncan and O’Donnell the ones tasked with reporting the bad behavior of their male coworkers? Why weren’t cohosts Dickerson and Duthiers assigned this particular report? In other words, why wasn’t a man given this responsibility? Why, when it comes to sexual assault and harassment allegations, are women the ones tasked with not only telling their male coworkers’ stories but also doing the emotional labor of making everyone feel fine about it?

This week’s news at CBS reminded me of a teary-eyed Savannah Guthrie reading Matt Lauer’s statement of apology on air last year (the second day in a row that her job entailed discussing her former colleague’s alleged behavior) and Mika Brzezinski reporting the suspension of MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin and reading his statement.

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb report on Matt Lauer’s firing. Where are Al Roker and Willie Geist?

It is disturbing to me that women are always the ones charged with cleaning up the messes of their male coworkers and contextualizing for betrayed viewers who networks fear they’ll lose—because God forbid the networks hemorrhage even more money over these scandals while potentially having to give huge payouts to the men in question.

Men screw up. Women fix it. It’s an all too familiar narrative—and I’m tired of it.

Why must women, who are still paid less than their male counterparts, be the ones to put on a sad face and express the appropriate shock and sympathy so that viewers at home feel comforted? Why are professional women forced into the maternal role of emotional soother—the one who says There, there, sweetie. Everything will be OK. Since when is that part of the job description of being a female journalist?

Mika Brzezinski reports on the suspension of MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin.

The women in these situations keep their jobs and remain on cleanup duty while their disgraced male colleagues try to collect huge payouts and hide in their million-dollar mansions to do some “soul-searching” while they wait for the dust to settle. Matt Lauer’s attorneys allegedly tried to get him $30 million (NBC didn’t pay), and Moonves could potentially receive $120 million pending an investigation. CBS agreed to allocate $20 million of Moonves’ $140 million payout for #MeToo causes.

That’s not enough.

Time’s Up has called for the board of CBS to give the money to organizations that address sexual harassment and workplace safety. In a letter to the CBS board, the organization said: “That is $120 million dollars that will either go to Mr. Moonves or back into the coffers of the company that allowed the culture created by Mr. Moonves to continue. Or that $120 million can create change by going to organizations—and there are many impactful organizations—that can help women of all kinds. The choice is yours. But the answer is obvious. We ask that you not dishonor the bravery of those who have come forward by spending that money unwisely.”

Time’s Up also called on the board to “review and remake not only the structure, but the culture, of CBS and take ongoing responsibility for issues of safety and equity” in the company. “You can cling to a status quo as it crumbles around you,” it said. “Or you can demonstrate what happens when true leadership embraces the future.”

Because the truth is, what the #MeToo movement has revealed is a systemic problem. It’s not one that can be solved by calling out a few (or even several dozen individuals. Until we have more female leadership and a culture that rewards integrity and transparency—instead of power and money—the problem will only persist.

The next time a male executive screws up, maybe put them on the air to make their own announcements about their bad behavior and subsequent firings. Don’t ask a woman to do it. We’ve done enough already.

Abigail Libers lives in Brooklyn and has written for New York and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber Reportedly Just Got Married

Surprising news, people: Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber are reportedly already married. Yup! If you’re keeping track, it’s only been about two months since the couple announced their engagement, but multiple sources tell People magazine that Bieber and Baldwin tied the knot on Thursday (September 13) in New York City.

“They went ahead and did it without listening to anyone,” a source allegedly close to the young stars told the magazine.

A second “religious” source confirmed the news, as well, telling People that Bieber and Baldwin did marry at a New York City courthouse but plan on having a proper ceremony and reception soon: “They’re going to have a big blowout, in front of God and everyone they love.”

Street Style - New York Fashion Week September 2018 - Day 2

PHOTO: Getty Images

TMZ broke the news yesterday that Baldwin and Bieber went to the Marriage Bureau in New York City, which issues marriage licenses. An eyewitness on site reportedly saw Bieber crying and telling Baldwin, “I can’t wait to marry you, baby.” Take that with a grain of salt, of course.

In fact, it might be best to take this all with a grain of salt until Bieber and Baldwin confirm. In a separate story, TMZ reports Baldiwn and Bieber will marry as soon as next week in Canada. It’s unclear, though, if the outlet is just referring to a formal ceremony and reception or actual marriage. Either way, it seems like Bieber and Baldwin are excited (and eager) to start the next chapters of their lives together. Congrats!

“The thing I am most excited for is that my little brother and sister get to see another healthy stable marriage and look for the same,” Bieber wrote on Instagram in July, confirming his engagement to Baldwin. “God’s timing really is literally perfect.”

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Hailey Baldwin Addresses the Rumors That She Married Justin Bieber

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 AT 4:56 P.M. ET — Hailey Baldwin took to Twitter on Friday and set the record straight: She is not (we repeat, not) married yet. “I understand where the speculation is coming from, but I’m not married yet,” Baldwin tweeted.


ORIGINAL STORY:

Surprising news, people: Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber are reportedly already married. Yup! If you’re keeping track, it’s only been about two months since the couple announced their engagement, but multiple sources tell People magazine that Bieber and Baldwin tied the knot on Thursday (September 13) in New York City.

“They went ahead and did it without listening to anyone,” a source allegedly close to the young stars told the magazine.

A second “religious” source confirmed the news, as well, telling People that Bieber and Baldwin did marry at a New York City courthouse but plan on having a proper ceremony and reception soon: “They’re going to have a big blowout, in front of God and everyone they love.”

Street Style - New York Fashion Week September 2018 - Day 2

PHOTO: Getty Images

TMZ broke the news yesterday that Baldwin and Bieber went to the Marriage Bureau in New York City, which issues marriage licenses. An eyewitness on site reportedly saw Bieber crying and telling Baldwin, “I can’t wait to marry you, baby.” Take that with a grain of salt, of course.

In fact, it might be best to take this all with a grain of salt until Bieber and Baldwin confirm. In a separate story, TMZ reports Baldiwn and Bieber will marry as soon as next week in Canada. It’s unclear, though, if the outlet is just referring to a formal ceremony and reception or actual marriage. Either way, it seems like Bieber and Baldwin are excited (and eager) to start the next chapters of their lives together. Congrats!

“The thing I am most excited for is that my little brother and sister get to see another healthy stable marriage and look for the same,” Bieber wrote on Instagram in July, confirming his engagement to Baldwin. “God’s timing really is literally perfect.”

Related Stories:

Hailey Baldwin Just Shared Some Details About Her Wedding to Justin Bieber

Kendall Jenner Just Opened Up About Her Friend Hailey Baldwin’s Engagement

Hailey Baldwin’s Engagement Ring Is Honestly Even Bigger Than I Imagined

The Relatable Reason Meghan Markle Never Wears Red Lipstick

Since she first began attending official royal outings with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has proved time and again that she’s of the “if it ain’t broke” mindset when it comes to her beauty choices. When she finds what looks good—her glowy, natural makeup, that controversy-causing messy bun—she sticks with it. In a new interview with People, Daniel Martin, the Duchess of Sussex’s close friend and mastermind behind her gorgeous wedding day glam, broke down Meghan’s low-key approach to makeup and explained why you’ll never see her straying too far from her favorite peachy-nude lip color.

“The one time she did a red lip, she just didn’t feel comfortable in it,” Martin explained. “She likes to talk and she’s not a fussy person, so she doesn’t want to have to worry about anything.” Makes sense: Who wants to worry about a bright red smudge transferring onto your teeth or feathering out when you’ve got a million cameras trained on you at any minute. And bold colors fade more obviously.

Plus, if your go-to rosy nude was as flattering and versatile as Meghan’s preferred Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution shade of “Very Victoria,” why would you even consider trying something new?

Meghan Markle Won't Wear Red Lipstick 1

PHOTO: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Meghan Markle Won't Wear Red Lipstick 2

PHOTO: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Meghan Markle Won't Wear Red Lipstick 3

PHOTO: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Martin also shared that, despite having access to professional makeup artists, Meghan has decided to do her own makeup for her royal engagements. “She’s gotten more comfortable doing her own makeup. She loves makeup and she’s good at it!” he told People. “She’s been doing her makeup herself. She’s not fussy—she’s just trying to get it on and get out the door.”

Her go-to routine? “She likes a stronger eye, her brow is a lot more defined now. But it’s still her,” Martin said. “If anything, she’s going to experiment with different tones, and now that she’s more tan she’ll use warmer colors. But she doesn’t stray too far from her technique, she’s very formulaic with her routine. They have so many engagements, you have to stick with what you know and feel comfortable and confident and just own it.”

You’ve got to stan a relatable, low-maintenance duchess.

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Slick Woods Confirms She Gave Birth Right After Savage x Fenty Show During New York Fashion Week

Model Slick Woods pretty much tore up the Savage x Fenty runway, walking in a harness-bodysuit while very pregnant during Fashion Week. But her appearance in Rihanna‘s first-ever lingerie show wasn’t even the most noteworthy thing that happened that night: The 22-year-old shared that she gave birth to her first child, having gone into labor during the event.

In an Instagram post, Woods confirmed reports that she went into labor during the Savage X show, which took place on Wednesday night. (“Just as [she] walked backstage,” according to the original TMZ story.)

Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 - Runway

PHOTO: JP Yim

“A lewk, 14 hours of labor, and A king is born. This is the face of a WOMAN in labor, we hold shit down most of us don’t even know how much we’re going through, I’m here to say I CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT WHENEVER THE FUCK I WANT AND SO CAN YOU,” she wrote in the caption. “Thank you @qualityresusqueen and the Fenty family for taking such good care of us.”

This is Woods’ first child. In her September 2018 cover story for Elle UK, she revealed that her son, with fellow model Adonis Bosso, would be named Saphir.

Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 - Runway

PHOTO: JP Yim

Backstage at the Savage X show, Rihanna told Elle: “Slick and I have been working non-stop throughout her pregnancy from Fenty x Puma to Fenty Beauty—I promise you. I’m not the type to judge any woman about any part of her womanhood, especially motherhood because that’s like the VIP of womanhood… Bringing a life into the world is no joke. I have a lot of respect for those women and those who choose to continue to work and get it done while being pregnant. I have a lot of respect for Slick and every other pregnant woman working until their due date. I’ll never tell her she can’t do a show unless she tells me I can’t because I’m about to drop in a second.”

A few weeks ago, the singer posted an image of her and Woods to Instagram, writing: “saphir, aunty can’t wait to meet you.”

Congratulations to the new parents!

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Fall TV Is Finally Giving Me the Female Leads I’ve Always Wanted

Everyone has been influenced by TV characters at some point—those small-screen personalities that make an impact on us and help us realize the version of ourselves we want to be. For me, those characters were saxophone- and book-loving Lisa Simpson and Saved by the Bell’s Jessie Spano. As a preteen I’d sprint home from school to beat my sister to the highly coveted seat in front of the TV before Saved by the Bell’s familiar, chirpy theme song started. From the very first episode, Jessie proved herself as a smart, staunch feminist who called out unfair societal norms and was quick to confront her ridiculous (and often chauvinistic) boyfriend, AC Slater. She leaned into her intelligence in a way that made her stand out from other female protagonists on both the small and big screens. What’s more, she was unapologetically herself—a brilliant badass. And so I wanted to be one too.

For young women, seeing yourself in the shows you watch matters, and while television has seen its fair share of iconic female leads over the years, a lack of diversity—both in the casting and in the characters themselves—has kept progress at bay. But things seem to be changing. Today’s television has unveiled a new golden era of dynamic, diverse, complex female leads. No longer are women typecast as wholesome role models or cute sidekicks. In fact, they’re often not. From Sandra Oh’s rule-­breaking Eve Polastri in Killing Eve to Madeline Brewer’s tragically resilient Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale and Amy Adams’ troubled Camille Preaker in Sharp Objects, women are playing the brilliantly flawed, sometimes unsympathetic characters that, before now, had most often been brought to life by men. As Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart told *Glamour*: “Everyone has a dark side,” and TV’s women are finally getting the chance to explore theirs.

Of course, the reason we’re seeing such dynamic female leads onscreen is due to the mounting number of women behind the lens. Increasingly, female characters are being brought to life by female writers like Gillian Flynn, executives like ABC’s Channing Dungey, and producers like this issue’s cover star, Issa Rae. These pages are full of women who are blazing trails in TV like never before, helping to push boundaries of what’s acceptable for women onscreen and make sure all young girls grow up feeling represented.

So here’s to TV’s leading ladies—both those behind the camera and in front of it.

Samantha Barry is Glamour’s editor-in-chief

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Keiko Agena Says There’s Enough Story for Another Gilmore Girls Revival

It’s been two whole years since Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life blessed us with more installments of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s signature fast-talking dialogue, but we might not have seen the end of Stars Hollow. In a new interview Keiko Agena, who played Lane Kim on the hit show, says there’s enough material for another Gilmore Girls revival—specifically, focusing on Rory’s pregnancy. “I do think that there is story left. I mean, especially with Rory’s storyline,” the actress told Entertainment Tonight. “So, I mean, I would love to work on another installment of Gilmore Girls.”

The main obstacle, according to Entertainment Tonight: the “very busy” schedules of the cast and the showrunners. Alexis Bledel is currently starring in The Handmaid’s Tale, for example, while Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino have two seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel under their belts. “I would understand if that’s part of the challenge of ever doing another Gilmore Girls revival,” Agena told ET. “But until then, people should definitely check out all of Handmaid’s Tale and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and everything that Melissa McCarthy does, which is absolutely hilarious.”

GILMORE GIRLS

PHOTO: Neil Jacobs/Netflix

Keiko Agena in the Netflix revival of ‘Gilmore Girls’

Agena included a shout-out to her own new show, Hulu’s The First, debuting on Friday, in which she plays an astronaut who’s part of the inaugural batch of Mars colonizers. “It was such a whirlwind when I first heard about it… and definitely once I got the script, and dove into the lightly sci-fi aspect to it, I was completely hooked,” she told ET. “I mean, [creator] Beau Willimon, just meeting him was fantastic, and I fell in love with the project right away.”

As for other people’s interest in a second Gilmore Girls revival, Agena told ET that she hasn’t heard anything from the showrunners, while ET reported that Cindy Holland, Netflix’s VP of Original Content, previously said Gilmore Girls‘s future has yet to be discussed—despite a mysterious tweet from 2016 that suggested otherwise.

“[Sherman-Palladino] knows that we are very big fans of Gilmore Girls,” Holland said in July, according to ET.

Related: 14 Times No Man Was Good Enough for the Gilmore Girls

Carrie Underwood Recently Canceled Two Shows Because She Was So Sick She ‘Couldn’t Stand’

Last week, Carrie Underwood fans in the U.K. found themselves wishing her a speedy recovery after she canceled two performances due to an unspecified “illness.” According to People, Underwood’s record label made the announcement on Facebook, revealing that the singer would no longer be performing at the Long Road Festival or Radio 2 Live at Hyde Park over the weekend.

This week, Underwood shed some light on the health condition that led to her last-minute cancellations. “I don’t cancel shows. Like, I will drag myself on the stage and perform if I have the flu, or whatever,” she told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show Thursday night (September 13). “In the U.K., we had to cancel a couple shows. Basically, I got, like, a viral thing, and I woke up, I had vertigo, and I could not stand up, and it was crazy.”

“I ended up in a German hospital for three days,” she added. “They were so sweet and so nice. And we were, like, in our rooms, like, trying to learn German and trying to communicate with the people….I learned one phrase. ‘Kein fleisch, bitte’—’No meat, please.’ I don’t eat meat, so they would come in—that’s all I learned. That’s all I got.”

Watch Underwood explain this for yourself, below:

A few months ago, Underwood revealed she had seriously injured herself in a fall last November, requiring 40 to 50 facial stitches and metal screws in her broken wrist.. “I honestly don’t know how things are going to end up but I do know this: I am grateful. I am grateful that it wasn’t much, much worse,” she wrote in a blog post at the time. “And I am grateful for the people in my life that have been there every step of the way…. It’s crazy how a freak random accident can change your life.”

After spending several months in recovery, Underwood returned to the stage in April with a triumphant performance of her new song “Cry Pretty” at the Academy of Country Music Awards, receiving a long standing ovation and later winning Vocal Event of the Year with Keith Urban.

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Bethenny Frankel Has Raised over a Million Dollars for Puerto Rico. She’s Not Done Yet.

Birds chirp, two assistants chase after a small dog named Biggie, a makeup artist fusses over primer and lash glue. Hair tools drone on like white noise machines, a rack of sequined clothes is wheeled in, music that can be best described as reggae-ish? blasts over the loudspeakers.

But in the middle of this tumult, a woman hunched over an iPhone oozes calm. Her back is toward me. Her legs are crossed. Her torso is wrapped in the tiniest robe I’ve ever seen outside a Barbie Dreamhouse. “Hi, hello. I’m here,” she starts. It’s Bethenny Frankel—at our service.

No, it’s true. She is. It’s been almost 12 months since hurricanes throttled Texas and Puerto Rico, and in that time, Frankel, 47, has not just rallied humanitarian aid with some choice Instagram posts, but launched her B Strong disaster relief initiative, traveled to decimated towns and down remote access roads, filled a warehouse with donated goods, handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash cards with her team, and chartered 54 private planes to deliver much-needed supplies. (That’s her count, and it doesn’t include the cargo ships she later summoned. Those carried “50 times” what the planes could, “like 1,000 school busses,” she estimates, piled on top of each other.) She has also marshaled resources for Mexico and Guatemala, after a volcano erupted and killed more than 60 people in June.

To be clear, she’s as surprised as we are that this work has commanded so much of her attention. Sure, in the past she’d written some nice checks and volunteered her time—her involvement with Dress for Success can be traced back through several seasons of The Real Housewives of New York City. But the hurricanes, the planes, the insulin shipments, the warehouse, the “Bethenny for President!” tweets—this is unprecedented. She doesn’t quite know how to make sense of it, but she tries. She had indeed wanted to do more. She wanted to be charitable in genuine emergencies, but on one condition: “I wanted it to be dire,” she tells me. To “get in before anybody else is [there] and it’s really at phase zero.”

bethenny_PuertoRico-1.jpg

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bethenny Frankel

I’ve come to interview Frankel in her much-vaunted SoHo apartment, which fans of RHONY will know well. It reportedly cost Frankel $4.2 million, a steal in the New York City zip code. She nabbed it. The apartment is immaculate—done up in charcoal and silver, with gilded accents and a tasteful smatter of lucite. There is no clutter, except near the door where I know to leave my shoes. Two days before our interview, I received an email that stipulates the no-shoe rule. It’s 90-something degrees in New York, but I don’t have time to get a fresh pedicure; I settle on white sneakers and the nicest socks I own. (When I pad across her floors, the pale wood is so smooth and supple I want to speak to its dermatologist.)

And then there’s Frankel, hidden behind a slate-colored partition in her dedicated glam room. Even in loungewear, she looks fearsome.

I’m invited to sit down on a stool at her feet, which I do. She offers to include me in a selfie, which I decline. We dive in. This humanitarian work, the stuff I’ve come to discuss with her—she knew from the start she needed to treat it like one of her investments. At first, she was underestimated. She wanted to help, but no one would give her an in. That was fine: It’s par for the course for a woman in business, even one who inked a reported $120 million deal on the sale of her Skinnygirl Margarita enterprise. So Frankel struck out on her own. When the storms hit Houston, she printed #thisisacrisis on a tee and raised over $300,000 in supplies and donations. Then she turned her attention to the earthquake and aftershocks in Mexico, where she hand-delivered supplies. When the hurricane slammed Puerto Rico, Frankel resolved to get on a plane. “I was told, ‘You can’t go,’” she remembers. There was no running water. No power grid. It was dangerous. But tell Frankel she can’t do it—make millions, flip a house, renovate an apartment—and her mind is made up.

“If you think that everybody else is cleaning up the mess, the mess isn’t getting cleaned up,” she reminds me, while a makeup artist buffs blush onto her cheeks. Less than two weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, she was on a jet.

Frankel has an ethos, and she shares it with Nike. Just do it. Think about it: How many people want jobs, but decide not to fill out the application because someone else is bound to get it? Well, if candidates all deluded themselves like that, no one would ever get a gig. Frankel is decisive. She doesn’t guess about other people’s chances. She doesn’t check to see who’s made a public statement or look up how much other famous people have donated. She finds a gap in the marketplace, and she rushes in. When The New Yorker profiled her in 2015, her ambition was summed up like this: “Her goals are imperial.” But it feels like more than that. She doesn’t seem like a queen. She seems like a movement.

Frankel tells me she had under 24 hours to plan that entire first mission. And in that time, she had to: decide what to fill the plane with, get that stuff to the plane, map out where to land, contact children’s hospitals, reach out to pet organizations, and connect with the survivors she’d “met” on Twitter. “It’s building a plane while you’re flying it…I don’t know how it came together.”

“Once you’ve had a success, the next time it’s easier.” That’s true of cocktails and denim deals. It’s also true of natural disasters.

But it did. Activists took note. Fans swarmed her feeds. People whispered that she’d done more for Puerto Rico than the President of the United States. Then, louder: If Trump had been elected off The Apprentice, why not Frankel off RHONY? America loves celebrities, and wouldn’t Andy Cohen make a better cabinet member than Betsy DeVos? Frankel has said—and confirms, in our conversation—that she has no interest in the White House. But the more she pushes back, the clearer her similarities to President Trump become. She doesn’t want to be president because she is not, in her own words, “diplomatic.” She likes to sit in her pajamas and is “not really politically correct.” She doesn’t go so far as to bemoan fake news, “but really,” she tells me, “the media is controlling everything” and “there’s a lot that needs to be done with” it. She doesn’t care what political leaders in Guatemala or Mexico think of her efforts, OK? “Maybe that is like Trump. I don’t know.”

But the essential difference between them is evident, too. President Trump has been in office for 22 months, and his lone major legislative accomplishment is an unpopular tax bill. He seems to awake to fresh legal threats several times a week. Meanwhile, Frankel has submitted to more rancorous reunion shows than he has non-Fox News sit-down interviews. This season, she survived the bacterium that poisoned almost all the housewives in Cartagena, Colombia. It was no match for her! Like her or not, she endures when most people give out.

No sooner had she landed on that first trip to Puerto Rico than a friend texted her and said, “‘I’ll give you my plane also.’” So, that was two planes. Frankel reached out to another friend, whom she knew was in a position to help, and said, “Well, this person donated a plane, and I did a plane.” That person ponied up one as well. Frankel’s makeup guru has moved on to lips at this point, but he has to pause to accommodate her smile. This is sweet. This is the point. The planes were evidence that she’d proven the concept: “Once you’ve had a success, the next time it’s easier.” That’s true of cocktails and denim deals. It’s also true of natural disasters. She’d shown it was possible. After that, the effort exploded.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Bethenny Frankel

All this is not to suggest that Frankel worked at some remove or saw the aid as a mere transaction. Far from it. Instead, she treats her responsibilities on the ground like she does her 9-to-5 (er, 5-to-midnight) work. She brims with passion and expertise, and she can dip into vast reserves of rage in an instant. She doesn’t bullshit. She doesn’t care if she makes people uncomfortable. When she tries to describe what she witnessed, first in Mexico, then in Puerto Rico, her voices almost cracks. “Beyond third-world,” she says. “A father holding his baby, and his head is split open, bleeding. People trying to do medical procedures on the street that might not even be doctors. People holding bags of medicine. And you could see rubble, just piles, stories high, and people were just dead under there.”

That first time on the ground in Puerto Rico, she walked into a government building. It was October, and the whole region was in shambles. She was 15 minutes from where people were still on their roofs, desperate for water. But here, the men were in clean khakis and drinking coffee. She thinks it’s possible these men were meant to deal with “grander political” issues than the ones she’d taken on and weren’t supposed to drive out to save people who needed ventilators or were trapped without medical supplies. But she also knows she didn’t sleep the whole time she was there. Her clothes weren’t clean.

“It was brutal and unhealthy and not right, but maybe people just assumed that someone else would take care of it,” she says. “I don’t know. I know that building freaked me out. I never went back there again.” When she’d landed in Puerto Rico, she said to her team, “Let’s just play by the rules and let’s go to the government building and see what’s going on.” After, she said, “Fuck that building, and those people in that building.”

“It can’t all be doom and gloom and aid. Puerto Rico doesn’t want to be sobbed over. They want us to come, spend money, and build it back.”

Frankel went off-book. She decided to hand out cash cards, not clothes or even food, which spoils fast. (“Sorry, I know people want to donate clothes. Clothes are a nightmare to sort. It’s just not what people need or want.”) Cash cards give people choices. It restores to people a measure of respect. Most of all, it pumps dollars back into circulation. “It can’t all be doom and gloom and aid. Puerto Rico doesn’t want to be sobbed over,” she says. “They want us to come, spend money, and build it back.”

People reported in October 2017 that Frankel was on track to raise over $1 million in funds and supplies just for Puerto Rico. Her contribution, she tells me, “is said to be the largest private relief effort in the United States in that period of time.”

She basks in that, but just for a second. “I did think it was interesting that Trump never said anything,” she adds. No note of thanks or phone call from him or his team. Nada. She wonders whether she hasn’t heard from him because he feels it would make him look bad. But Frankel assures me she doesn’t see it like that. Some gratitude would have been a simple acknowledgment. She dictates: “There may have been some balls dropped because there’s so much going on in the world, so thanks for doing your part as a citizen.”

She’s miffed. Not furious, but just conscious of it. She floats the notion that Trump doesn’t know. He hasn’t seen what she’s done and accomplished. He hasn’t spied the jets! Given his obsession with how the press responded to his inaction in Puerto Rico and the praise that was lavished on Frankel in return, this strikes me as implausible, I tell her. She laughs, shooting down her own speculation. “I can’t imagine he doesn’t know because he knows me. So he knows. Got it. I will not wait near the mailbox.”

When we meet, Frankel tells me she’s scheduled to return to Puerto Rico, where the official death toll has risen to 2,975, an estimate 50 times the initial number, in September. She plans to take her daughter, Bryn. But Dennis Shields, with whom Frankel was in an on-off relationship, is found dead of an apparent overdose later in the summer, and the trip is postponed. A week after our interview, Frankel puts on a gown and a fresh pair of false lashes to shoot this season’s The Real Housewives of New York City reunion show. (Most of which can best be described as: Everybody Hates Bethenny.)

I start to question what it must be like to deal with the raw horror in Puerto Rico and then return to this—

“And deal with bullshit?” she breaks in, cutting me off. “There’s different categories. I’m going to go out for a nice dinner when I’m here, and I’m going to be filthy and dirty and clean myself with wipes when I’m there. It’s different.” When she travels on vacation or a business trip, she flies first class. She wants a seat that turns into a bed. This baffles her assistants: Frankel in 32E to deliver aid to Mexico. But the dissonance—that’s just how it is. “It would feel very strange to be like, ‘I’m not going to go on that Guatemala flight because it’s coach.’”

“There are leaders and there are followers. There are doers and there are talkers. I’m a doer, and I’m a leader.”

At the start of her career, Frankel worked for a publicist whose name she can’t even remember. At the office, she would talk on the phone while she completed whatever menial tasks she’d been given. But the publicist hated it. “She said, ‘There’s no talking on the phone.’ And I was like, ‘Why? I’m fucking licking envelopes. Why can’t I talk on the phone? Why can’t I wax my legs, if I’m licking the envelopes. What’s the difference? Who cares?’” Those edicts—what good do they do?

Now, if Frankel has a rule, trust it serves a purpose. It’s not just for some fake sense of decorum. It accomplishes a discrete aim. Like, it ensures that her floors are the most radiant and unblemished in all of Manhattan.

“There are leaders and there are followers. There are doers and there are talkers. I’m a doer, and I’m a leader,” Frankel tells me. Or at least, I think she does. I’ve been perched on a stool for 45 minutes, but I haven’t met her gaze once. This whole time, she’s stared ahead at the mirrors in front of her. Even once her makeup is done and her hair has been tousled just so, she doesn’t waver. I look at her there too, not facing the cheek that’s turned toward me, but watching her watch herself.

Frankel claims she doesn’t like niceties. (Unless they’re thank-you notes from the Oval Office.) She likes action. “Go fix the problem.” Then she pauses, brows filled in and narrowed. “I don’t talk about what women don’t get and men get,” she says. “I just get.”


Mattie Kahn is a senior editor at Glamour.