Lauer: Tip of the NBC Iceberg?
News media giant seems to have a culture of covering up or spiking unwanted sexual allegation stories.
As that old adage states, appearances are not always what they seem. On Wednesday, the nation learned the shocking news that Matt Lauer, the face of NBC’s “Today” show for the past 20 years, had been fired over multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Since the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault revelations broke two months ago, the country has witnessed a steady stream of powerful men in media being brought down over allegations of sexual misbehavior. The ones in government just keep trucking along.
When NBC News Chairman Andy Lack announced the firing, he said that this was the first complaint that had been raised against Lauer in over 20 years. However, that claim now seems dubious as news about Lauer’s alleged behavior has begun to trickle out. If anything, it’s beginning to sound like the NBC News office mirrored that of the TV show “Mad Men,” with the regularity of off-color jokes and “a lot of consensual relationships.” A former producer with firsthand knowledge said, “[Lauer] couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So, he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”
Earlier this month, Lauer’s longtime booker and close colleague, Matt Zimmerman, whom Lauer had promoted into an executive position, was fired over sexual harassment complaints. Variety magazine reported that employees at “Today” were well aware of rumors regarding Lauer’s behavior, with one former reporter saying, “Management sucks there. They protected the s— out of Matt Lauer.”
In what now is an amazingly eerie interview for its blatant hypocrisy, earlier this year, Lauer grilled Bill O'Reilly, who had been fired by Fox News over allegations of sexual misconduct. Lauer said to O'Reilly, “You were probably the last guy in the world they wanted to fire, because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on. You carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?” Oh how the tables turned!
But is Lauer the network’s only problem? Donald Trump doesn’t seem to think so, tweeting, “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”
It now appears evident that the network giant has long practiced squashing stories of sexual misconduct allegations against favored individuals. Months ago NBC spiked Ronan Farrow’s investigative story into Weinstein. Along with being friendly with the powerful producer, did the NBC brass worry that the story would expose their own company culture? How about back in 1999, during Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, when Juanita Broaddrick was interviewed by “Dateline” over her rape allegations against Clinton. The network then sat on the interview and waited to air the piece until after the Senate had acquitted Clinton on charges related to his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Broaddrick was also frustrated that NBC conveniently edited out the most damaging revelations against Clinton.
Lauer may prove to be just the tip of the iceberg as more questions and accusations are sure to descend on the network news media giant.