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Linda Yaccarino has a coveted gig – but Elon Musk would never give her control | Arwa Mahdawi

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Does Linda Yaccarino regret teaming up with Elon Musk yet?

This time last year Linda Yaccarino was flying high. She had a prestigious job spearheading ad sales at NBCUniversal and a reputation as one of the best in the business when it came to building relationships between brands and agencies. She was known in advertising circles as the “Velvet Hammer” because of her smooth but hard-nosed negotiating style. She was successful and respected.

Then Elon Musk came knocking with an offer of the CEO job at X (formerly Twitter) and she seemingly thought, hey, why not, let me go ahead and set my reputation on fire. Yaccarino may have coveted a CEO gig but it was clear from the start that Musk was never going to give her the sort of control a CEO normally has. It seemed pretty obvious that Musk, who was forced to step down from the chief executive position after he put out a poll asking if he should resign and a 57.5% majority said he should, didn’t actually want anyone else in charge. Rather he wanted a puppet.

In short, Yaccarino was always being set up to fail, the latest victim of a phenomenon called the glass cliff in which women are more likely to be promoted into top jobs when an organization is in crisis and their chances of making the job a success are minimal. Other recent victims of the glass cliff phenomenon include the former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, and former British prime minister Theresa May.

Yaccarino is obviously not delusional. One imagines she knew the job wasn’t going to be easy. But I’m not sure she reckoned with just how humiliating the role would be. Perhaps, deep down, she hoped Musk might actually trust her to run X. But any illusions she might have had about being in charge were probably shattered on Wednesday, after she gave an interview at Vox Media’s Code Conference that was variously characterized as a “dumpster fire”, “bizarre”, “a disastrous coming out party”, “wild” and “combative”. Slate dubbed her X’s “Chief Embarrassment Officer” following the interview, and that’s essentially what she is.

If you want to watch the entire interview it’s here. The gist of it, however, is that Yaccarino seems to have no idea what is going on in the company she ostensibly runs. She didn’t seem to know very much about Musk’s plans to charge every user of X a subscription fee, for example. She responded to a question about antisemitism on X by vaguely saying: “Everybody deserves to speak their opinion.” And she refused to take questions from the audience. All in all, she did not give the impression of someone even nominally in charge.

The same day that Yaccarino was squirming on stage, the Financial Times published a less-than-glowing profile of the CEO. (The main photo was a portrait of Yaccarino in a crucifixion pose, which tells you everything you need to know.) At one point they quote a source who says that taking on the role has required Yaccarino to become a puppet in Musk’s regime. “The job is not to be CEO,” the source said. “You will not get to control Elon, you have to roll with the punches and channel him. If he says the sky is bright pink, you have to say you’re excited the sky is pink.”

Even if you say the sky is pink until you believe it yourself, that won’t save you from Musk. He has a reputation for throwing even his most ardent sycophants to the wolves. As Lou Paskalis, a longstanding Yaccarino confidant, told the Financial Times, Musk doesn’t seem to want to hand over the reins to Yaccarino at all. “Since the hire, it seems to me, whether consciously or subconsciously, most of his actions seem to sabotage her success,” he says. Stand aside everyone: the glass cliff is claiming its latest victim.

‘Feminist approach’ to cancer could save lives of 800,000 women a year

An extensive study, which looked at women and cancer in 185 countries, found that gender inequality is having “resounding negative impacts” on how women experience cancer prevention and treatment – resulting in unnecessary deaths. “The impact of a patriarchal society on women’s experiences of cancer has gone largely unrecognised,” said Dr Ophira Ginsburg, a senior adviser for clinical research at the National Cancer Institute’s Centre for Global Health. “Globally, women’s health is often focused on reproductive and maternal health, aligned with narrow anti-feminist definitions of women’s value and roles in society, while cancer remains wholly underrepresented.”

New Zealanders will pick between two guys called ‘Chris’ for prime minister

The last time New Zealanders voted in a general election, they were choosing between two women who were self-professed feminists,” writes the New York Times. “Three years later, in a sign of how sharply the pendulum has swung, they will pick between two men named Chris.” There is more abuse being levelled against women in politics and women’s issues have all but disappeared from election campaigns.

Texas lawyer asks abortion funds for details of every procedure since 2021

The lawyer behind Texas’s extreme six-week abortion ban is now demanding information about the identity of every person (except the patient themselves) who may have helped facilitate an abortion over the last two years. Not dystopian at all!

Influencers are selling adhesive belly buttons

They’re a no-surgery way to make your legs look longer apparently. There’s a market for everything.

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Olivia Rodrigo is scared of birds

“Birds are so foreign to us – there’s not one body part that looks like ours,” the pop star recently told Rolling Stone. “Everyone’s all afraid about aliens and shit,” she continued. “They’re like, ‘What are the aliens going to look like?’ I’m like, ‘We have birds on our planet, and we’re not scared of them. We’re fine!’” Something to consider.

GB News is a misogynistic cesspit

“The lesson of the last few years is that what’s fringe today – like the insult ‘cucked little incel’, a phrase Laurence Fox used on-air … is normalised tomorrow, and that doesn’t stop at objectifying women,” writes Gaby Hinsliff regarding GB News’s latest scandal.

French equality watchdog finds 90% of online pornography abuses women

The report said that in millions of videos, “women, caricatured with the worst sexist and racist stereotypes, are humiliated, objectified, dehumanised, assaulted, tortured, subjected to treatment that is contrary both to human dignity and French law”. A significant amount of content amounted to torture.

The week in pawtriarchy

(Do alligators have paws? For the purpose of this pun let’s just say they do.) Meet Wally: an emotional support alligator who lives in Philadelphia. I don’t know if alligators usually enjoy baseball but his owner clearly thought he’d like to catch a game because they tried to enter the Philadelphia Phillies’ stadium for a home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Weirdly, they weren’t let in. An investi-gator is looking into the situation.


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