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On Wednesday night, White hosted a cocktail party in honor of The Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that uses DNA testing and other evidence to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners. “Some of the wrongly accused have been accused of rape, and our readers are very interested in that topic,” White said, sitting in a woven-back wooden chair at the rear of her first floor. She wore a black sleeveless ribbed turtleneck and a long red skirt. Guests mingled at the front of the house, while a tuxedoed young man tinkled away at the piano.
Molly Triffin profiled interns from the Innocence Project for the January Cosmopolitan. “They looked like such Cosmo girls,” said White. Why? “Because they were feisty and gutsy and gorgeous and, just, they felt they owned the world.
“You don’t have to be one type of woman,” White continued. “You don’t have to be the studious type or the brainiac. You can be all of those things at the same time.”
Most of the news out of Cosmopolitan recently has been about the magazine’s new international editions (Mongolia, the Middle East). There are now more than 60 Cosmopolitans in 100 countries. “When I first got the job — I was given the job without applying for it — and then I found out we have all these international editions,” White said. “I remember thinking that if we screw this up, it will be against the Geneva Convention.” She lifted her shoulders into a laugh.
White said she keeps in touch with founding editor Helen Gurley Brown. They had coffee two weeks ago. “One of the things she has said to me many times has been thank you for still mentioning her in the magazine and talking about her,” she said. Brown keeps an office on the international floor of the Hearst Tower. “What she did, so few people have done.” White paused. “I’ve been an excellent manager of the DNA, but she created it.”
— Zeke Turner