In what seems like a trending pattern in this calendar year, renowned NBC co-host Matt Lauer has been dismissed from the network for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” Joining a long line of men in power in the media this year, Lauer faces a reckoning for his behavior in the workplace.
Though details are still surfacing, because of his 20-year history on the Today Show, we still find clues in his tracks pertaining to the issues he’s had with women. In what’s been a rather revealing time in the media as far as investigations and allegations, it’s also been a dark time for women who’ve long faced mistreatment in the working world.
Since 1997, upon joining Katie Couric, Lauer has risen to power in the media, with an incredible influence and following at the network. His most recent contract extension is said to be in the ballpark of $20 million a year. But with great power should come great responsibility, although that has evidently not been the case in this particular situation.
Upon the news of Lauer’s firing, we look back at the instances in which he has mishandled his conversations and behavior towards women. These women hold a significant and respectable title and reputation of their own.
We begin by taking a look at Ann Curry, who had also been on the morning show since 1997 as the news anchor. It’s been reported and apparent that she and Lauer did not get along and he had involvement in her firing. During her emotional farewell from the show, it was evident that there was tension between her and Lauer, as she was visibly distant from him, in contrast to the warmth she showed Al Roker and Natalie Morales. She had told the New York Times that Lauer created a boys club atmosphere behind the scenes, which she felt had undermined her from the beginning. When asked about his firing, she told People “I admire the women who have been willing to speak up both anonymously and off the record,” and “This is a moment when we all need to be a beacon of light for those women, for all women, and for ourselves.”
Next, we explore the much-discussed interview with Anne Hathaway that followed some questionable and revealing photographs of her while doing press for the film Les Miserables. On top of the embarrassment, and the fact that the photos were publicly distributed and published, Lauer did not aid the situation during his very questionable interview with her soon after. Anne was greeted with “Nice to see you, seen a lot of you lately”, which was invasive and discomforting, to say the least. Lauer even went on to question the lessons she had learned from it, insinuating that she had done something wrong, when in fact it was just an unlucky mishap. “I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants,” she said, gracefully following his remarks. Evidence of Lauer’s sexism is certainly on display here, though he faced no repercussions for this.
Finally, we dive into a situation on an even grander scale, in the direction of Hillary Clinton. During her presidential campaign, Lauer hosted a live forum with Clinton and Trump, where his behavior was truly further defined. He was criticized for constantly interrupting Clinton, although he let Trump just ramble on. Additionally, he exposed her controversial email scandal and didn’t focus on the untruths from Trump on major global matters. He even went on to undermine her fitness for office, and question her position to become commander-in-chief. There was an obvious contrast in tone towards Hillary and Donald, which Clinton herself spoke out on in her book titled What Happened. “NBC knew exactly what it was doing here…Lauer had turned what should have been a serious discussion into a pointless ambush.” Just another clear indication of the way Lauer projected himself in the media for far too long, declaring himself as an alpha male with sexist tendencies, in the professional world.
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