Sexual harassment firings a ‘reckoning that had to happen’

Like their counterparts at CBS This Morning last week, the remaining hosts of NBC’s Today Show this morning tackled the firing of their co-host — in this case Matt Lauer — up front.

Unlike last week’s CBS reaction to their crisis, however, this one — from Savannah Guthrie — seemed much less scripted and even much more personal.

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they behaved, badly?” she asked.

She didn’t know the answer, but she said the reckoning of sexual harassment in the workplace “had to happen.”

There will be the usual analysis, and possibly rationalization surrounding the latest revelation.

But WCCO morning host Jason DeRusha cut to the chase with the only question that really matters:

There is now just one male anchor left in broadcast network morning TV. Because, apparently, it is.

  • ec99

    This must have been an absolutely air-tight case, given that termination was immediate with no appeals process nor response from Lauer.

  • Veronica

    “Is it that hard to not be an ass to women?”

    Ha. I literally just texted my husband with the prediction that when I go to buy circuit breakers in an hour, an employee will attempt to tell me that the thing I need isn’t the thing I need.

    I’m still reeling from how I was treated by a small group of men in power from my previous employer. The disdain and derision was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I’m so angry with the norms that allow men to treat female (and I’m sure the LGBTQ community too) employees so abusively. So angry. I want them all gone.

    • This behavior also reinforces a general disdain for the capabilities of women that results in their earning less for the same work. The old boy edifice is tumbling down. About time.

      • Veronica

        Disdain for my my capabilities and those of my coworkers is an understatement. I should have known it was going to be an awful place when these old white men immediately started from my first day to pit me against the other women I worked with—something I just came to realize this morning.

        Ultimately I was let go after refusing to be party to explicit accounting fraud, despite being threatened, harassed, and defamed. The problem was that I knew more than all of them combined about non-profit governance and accounting standards and wouldn’t budge.

        Yes. Burn it ALL down.

        • Jack

          //Ultimately I was let go after refusing to be party to explicit accounting fraud, despite being threatened, harassed, and defamed. The problem was that I knew more than all of them combined about non-profit governance and accounting standards and wouldn’t budge.//

          Thanks for sticking to your guns. We need more people like you. I’m tired of people doing things because so and so said so. Because “I said so” is not adequate support for accounting entries.

    • jon

      There was a time when I would take my older sister with me to the hardware or electronics store… leave her unattended in an aisle (still in eyesight) and wait no more than 2 minutes for a sale associate to show up to help her… then I’d swoop in and ask my questions and get directed to the stuff I needed from the store.

      It beat waiting the 20-30 minutes it takes for any of them to even make eye contact with me.

      Different sister took me (at 14) used car shopping with her… she wanted some one with more mechanical ability than what she had with her to look the car over… We left after the sales rep didn’t get my subtle hints that he needed to stop trying to sell me a car, and start trying to sell one to her… (like me literally walking away from the two of them while he was talking… pointing at her… and eventually saying “I’m 14, I can’t even drive, much less buy a car, maybe you should be talking to the person who is looking to buy a car?”)

      More recently when buying cars we’ve walked out when the sales rep failed to make eye contact with my wife, or shake her hand when introducing themselves… same with hvac repair techs, and mechanics who have lost our business for doing the same.

      So not only is it clearly hard to not be an ass to women, there has to be some significant economic incentives that compensate for the loss of business…

    • Al

      Burn it down. Burn it all down.

    • To be fair, I’ve had my own “ass” moments (who really hasn’t had those moments), but they were when I was younger and I recognize that behavior was uncalled for, no sexual harassment AT ALL, just me being the clueless oaf that I was.

      There are some truly cringe-worthy moments that I lament to this day, but I believe that I, personally, have overcome any tendencies to be a complete ass to women.

      • Mike Worcester

        I will submit there are a whole heckuvalotta men who feel like you do. Does the question become — how do we atone for our past misdeeds? Is just being not an ass to women going forward enough? (Not expecting an answer but I do wonder if other men are unsure of how to proceed.)

        • Laurie K.

          Not being an ass to women is a start. I would also suggest that when you see or hear inappropriate behavior to stand up to the person who is exhibiting it. I have been in situations where a man crossed the line with some comments and the other men in the group just nervously laughed. Of course when I said something I was “over-reacting”.

          • >>the other men in the group just nervously laughed.<<

            Herd mentality. They KNEW it was inappropriate, they were just afraid of the derision from the group by speaking up would bring.

            /Sorry for the clumsy sentence

          • Laurie K.

            I agree, it is herd mentality and that’s what I am asking for men – and really anyone who observes inappropriate behavior – to try and become aware of and to stop doing.

          • Exactly.

          • Mike Worcester

            //they were just afraid of the derision from the group by speaking up would bring.

            Quite true. The male desire to be accepted as part of some sort of pack and not appear “weak” has had frightening consequences.

        • I’ve apologized to women I’ve slighted (if I ever run into them) and try my best to do better next time. I’ll also call out others who I see acting in an inappropriate manner…

          • Bob Sinclair

            And if that doesn’t work you can always check ’em into the boards. 🙂

          • I’m in “no-check” leagues…

            /And have women on my teams
            //They play better anyway.

        • Rob

          It’s an excellent start. Also, if you see or hear something, say something. If a male friend, colleague or family member makes pig comments, talks dismissively to women, interrupts them, or engages in other inappropriate behavior that you see or witness, call them out.

          Don’t tell misogynistic jokes and don’t laugh at such jokes. When a guy tells a sexist joke, express your disapproval, and let the jerk know that you expect to never hear him tell those kinds of jokes in your presence again.

    • Veronica

      Oh, and I got the right breakers just fine—though the section was a total mess and a bunch of things were in the wrong place. Nobody mansplained me at all. Yay!

  • AL287

    How hard is it to keep your smarmy comments and leering looks to yourself?

    Obviously pretty hard for SOME men.

    Matt Lauer’s firing doesn’t surprise me in the least. He has that braggadocio/macho attitude to begin with. Too much testosterone? After all he is bald.

    A lot of men do this because they had poor examples of decent male behavior growing up. Children practice what they live and for men it’s been going on for generations and has been encouraged on the big screen, including the classic ones, like Gone With the Wind.

    What more classic example of improper behavior is there than that kiss on the bridge with Atlanta burning in the background with Scarlett struggling to get away from Rhett?

    Perhaps actresses need to start declining roles that demean them on the big and small screen and screenwriters need to start writing more roles that show women in a positive and empowering light and men treating women with the dignity and respect they deserve.

    There are examples of that, too. Little Women, How Green Was My Valley, Mrs. Miniver, Gentleman’s Agreement, To Kill a Mockingbird and the list goes on.

    Oh! But that would be so boring, you say? All of these movies were blockbuster hits in their day.


    • Mike

      >>What more classic example of improper behavior is there than that kiss on the bridge with Atlanta burning in the background with Scarlett struggling to get away from Rhett?<<

      And yet this "inappropriate" scene occurred in the most popular film of all time (at least until "Star Wars"). The novel was written by a woman who made a fortune off of it. Both it and the film are still iconic in the popular imagination 80 years after their creation.

      My point is that it's always problematic to try to draw simple parallels between art and real life. Art is fantasy, and fantasy is psychologically complicated.

      • AL287

        What is the classic line, “Art reflects life.”?

        • Mike

          I would argue that it more accurately represents fantasy.

        • I was thinking about this last night while watching This is Us, which is an excellent show that always has a scene with Jack having a calm, fatherly heart-to-heart talk with a teenager who listens patiently and then goes forth with the newfound wisdom from dad.

          I would argue that this is mostly art not reflecting real life.

          • Rob

            Yes. As my wife likes to say: “It’s just TV.”

    • Angry Jonny

      Your examples are fiction; we’re dealing with fact.

      • Veronica

        Again, even these fictional examples become part of our cultural norms.

        • Angry Jonny

          I think you tread a dangerous road towards intellectual sterilization and book banning when you begin to cast too wide a net. I can teach my children to treat all people with the respect they deserve, and to call out BS behavior towards women, and not feel the need to yank a copy of Catcher In The Rye out of their hands.

          • Veronica

            I’m not calling for cultural sterilization in the least. But no body of work should be discussed without taking misogyny, classism, racism, etc into account.

  • Gary F

    Were they creeps before they had fame and fortune? Or did the money and power make them think they could get away with this behavior?

    • Al

      Probably a little of both, given the number of non-famous men who are creeps, and the famous men who don’t seem to be.

    • Justin McKinney

      If I had to guess, I would say that they had the creep in them before they became famous. But the fame most likely made them feel more able to get away with it.

    • Rob

      A person’s character doesn’t tend to change. For guys who are jerks to start with, money and power merely provide opportunities to act out their character flaws.

  • wjc

    If only all of this could lead to some permanent and positive changes in workplaces, but will it?

    • AL287

      We haven’t eradicated racism and bigotry in our society so I don’t hold out much hope for sexual abuse and harassment but one can always hope.

    • Al

      My inner optimist and pessimist are having a knock-down-drag-out over this very question.

    • Barton

      I doubt it.

      I’ve set a low bar for what I’ll consider positive change: being believed when I/others report sexual harassment from now on. That’d be a nice change.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Hat tip to DeRusha for cutting to the chase on this one. He is the social media example other journalists should look to.

  • Gary F

    So, Charlie Rose is 75, he’s past official retirement age and can just call it quits. Matt Lauer is 59, there is still some miles left on that tire. Do they form their own media outlet? The Creeps station? What does a guy like Matt Lauer do?

    • Veronica

      Nothing. They do nothing. They go away and they live in shame forever. Nobody will hire any of them. Every last one of these creeps will be too big of a liability for any organization to take on.

      • Gary F

        agreed. But I’m also putting money on some of these folks, like Franken, to be ‘redeemed” and he’ll be pushing the ERA ratification.

        Their egos and narcissism is to large to just go away, As time passes, it will be fun to see that happens with these folks.

        • He’s done in TV of any importance. He’ll probably end up starting yet another news website with some perspective that nobody will pay attention to. But he’s finished.

        • kevins

          Including our favorite president?

    • RBHolb

      It reminds me of Walter Matthau’s final speech in A Face in the Crowd. After a time, Matt Lauer will be back, but not at the same height he was before.

      He’s not going to be flipping burgers for a living.

    • ec99

      He was making ca $25 million a year. Plus all that time at NBC I imagine he has quite a portfolio of GE and Commcast stock. I don’t believe he has to do anything.

      • That GE stock ain’t gonna help him.

        • ec99

          Depends if the new CEO can save it.

          • He can’t. He’ll return shareholder value by selling pieces of it off. It’s a dinosaur.

    • Bridget L.

      Who cares what they do? Except for the fact that hopefully they won’t be able to practice their predatory behavior. I never liked that guy. One of the reasons I never watched, too smarmy.

    • Rob

      If you want to keep track of their activities and report back to us with any significant developments, that would be great.

    • Al

      Upvoting just because The Creeps Station is both hilarious and terrifying.

  • Gary F
    • That’s not a new instance . That what part of Folkenflik’s reporting on Oreskes.

      It’s only new that he’s no longer with the company. He was even more of a sleazeball than Oreskes.

      • eat_swim_read

        MPR portrays an orderly, appropriate response by its own officials – fair enough. Happy to take them at their word – it appears MPR moved with due speed and utmost seriousness.
        Good to know.
        But – G.K. “more of a sleazeball” than Oreskes, you say. And, again, taking an MPR expert at his word, let’s accept that as fact. No reason to doubt you, and I certainly don’t.
        That begs the question: where’s MPR been all these years (decades?) Or is his sleaze new?
        It might be?
        But reps like “sleaze” don’t just emerge overnight – do they?
        Just asking….not gainsaying or nitpicking.

        • // But – G.K. “more of a sleazeball” than Oreskes, you say.

          I said no such thing and perhaps you should’ve clicked the link Gary provided. I was referring to Sweeney.

          • eat_swim_read

            OK. Happy to receive your correction, thank you.
            Wasn’t Sweeney also a long-time staffer?
            Apparently not nearly as long a tenure as G.K….

          • Sweeney’s history and allegations, fyi, were in Folkenflik’s original reporting on Oreskes.

            Keillor is to MPR/APM since the ’90s, pretty much identical to PBS’ arrangement with Charlie Rose. I don’t know, however, whether MPR/APM provided human resources services to Prairie Home Productions.

  • Jeff C.
  • Jim G

    The writing is on the wall. All powerful men who have acted as sexual predators need to take heed. Even President Trump is pulling back his apology for his locker room comments caught on tape with Billy Bush. He is now floating the alternative reality that the recording is not his voice. The biggest fish has yet to be netted.

    • Rob

      I’d vote for spearing the biggest fish instead, but I take and approve of your point.

      Nothing would please me more than to see Gloria Allred announcing harassment lawsuits filed against T.Rump by several different women – followed by his forced resignation.

      • kevins

        From your keyboard to God’s ear.

  • crystals

    Power & toxic masculinity is an awful, and dangerous, combo.

  • eat_swim_read
  • jbob

    To those of us who have been following Mr. Keillor for a long time, none of this is very surprising. Few will remember his feud with Nick Coleman of the Star Tribute in the 1980s, but that feud was very telling in terms of showing a thin-skinned man who thought that rules didn’t apply to him and who expected the local press to slavishly present his carefully created fantasy image of himself while hiding the facts of his real life.

    It all ended with a calculated tantrum in 1987 worthy of Richard Nixon. He attacked both the local papers, did a phony cancellation of his show and left town. When he finally returned, he was essentially untouchable. Journalism in Minnesota was dead and the age of “C.J.” was on the way. Its the same today. The rich, powerful and well-connected in the state has never been so well protected from negative press. They can only be hurt when a national scandal breaks into the local media “bubble”.

    The thing about Keillor is that his “act” is really about playing a character 24-7 which has very little to do with the real person. The real man seems like something out of Sinclair Lewis’s book “main street” (Carol Milford) than the folksy characters he plays on the radio.

    All of his behavior over the last couple weeks is the same as it was in the 1980s. He presents a self-serving account of a situation, attacks the press and then announces that we are unworthy of him. Then he goes away for a little while to punish us before he inevitably comes back.

  • jbob

    “There is now just one male anchor left in broadcast network morning TV. Because, apparently, it is.”

    Its as much about how people are groomed and selected for those roles as it is about their personalities. These people are hired because of a combination of appearance and acting skills. They are not journalists. They are TV characters “fronting” for the real journalists who never appear on camera.

    The reality is that if you hire based on appearance and acting skills, you are going to end up with a high proportion of individuals with pathological personalities. The power of the job and celebrity then makes then worse.

    And its not just sex and men. Is, for example, is a woman who on a regular basis bullies and verbally abuses the staff in crude language as well as occasionally throwing things morally better than these guys who cop a feel? We treat the two behaviors as different, but I really wonder about that.

    We should all understand that its never just about the person doing the acts. Its about dozens of people all around them who are often complicit in their behavior. If the host is taking liberties, the production staff knows because there are too many eyes looking to hide it. And the person running things knows because they always come to know the personal weaknesses of the talent.

    • It’s absurd to allege that Charlie Rose wasn’t a journalist. And what TV reporters are there that never appear on camera?

      • jbob

        Charlie Rose was a Duke Fratboy with a law degree who went to New York to work on Wall Street. His first wife was a real journalist, not him. He came into journalism as a sort of hobby activity and got his first job by using his natural charm on Bill Moyers.

        He rose to fame as a talking head doing TV interviews. because he looked right on camera and had a personable way about him. I can’t ever really remember him doing journalism as such. He was always an “interview” guy or the guy who produced the interviews for Bill Moyers.

        I can’t ever remember him doing journalism in the sense of doing research or writing. His most useful skills were social ones. He moved in social circles typically denied to journalists but very much open to a Duke Fratboy lawyer who had worked at Banker’s Trust in New York.

        “And what TV reporters are there that never appear on camera?”

        Are you serious? Do you really think that the stories seen on shows like Sixty Minutes are the sole work product of the people who present on camera? Do you really think that the major networks hire all those beautiful people because of their skills working stories?

        • // I can’t ever really remember him doing journalism as such. He was always an “interview” guy or the guy who produced the interviews for Bill Moyers.

          So interviewing isn’t journalism? So when he went to interview Putin, that’s not journalism? People who interview people for an hour aren’t engaging journalism? What’s your definition of journalism?

          // I can’t ever remember him doing journalism in the sense of doing research or writing

          Ah, so you worked for Rose? How else would you know what research he did or what writing he did?

          You think producers are journalists (they are). What do producers do? Do you know? Describe a typical story and what a producer does and compare it to any hour long PBS interiew that Rose did and describe the point at which the journalism ended please.

          Tom Weber’s not a journalist? Eichten wasn’t a journalist? Miller’s not a journalist? But the people who book the shows are? Is that your contention?

          • jbob

            I really can’t tell if you are serious or not. But fishing for identity like you are is really sleazy. So are strawman questions.

            I draw a distinction between being a journalist in the sense of creating material and being a pretty talking head who simply adds their voice or their face to material that has been created for them by others.

            I’ve met Charlie Rose and I was not impressed. He came across as a charming but rather lightweight individual.

            When I look at his production schedule of interviews and his more recent style of interviews, I see someone who looks like they are using the work of others. When he was doing one-offs for Bill Moyers, his work was different. But when someone is producing the volume of interviews he is, its clear others must be doing most of the work.

            “But the people who book the shows are? Is that your contention?”

            And when did you stop beating your wife? This sort of nonsense doesn’t do you any credit and really bores me. Go play Rush Limbaugh on your own time.

            I found this forum because I wanted to share my memories of what Nick Coleman and other local journalists went through in terms of abuse from Keillor. I thought that might be interesting in a local sense in my old hometown and of interest to MPR.

            But your only interest is in protecting the virtue of one Charlie Rose. This was a waste of time.