With the avalanche of accusations and firings due to sexual misconduct this autumn, it’s been hard to gather up surprise for any single one. After all, the dominoes seem to fall so fast these days that it’s hard to muster up any shock before the next one is knocked over.
If there was any single scandal that elicited some level of astonishment, however, it was the summary dismissal of NBC icon Matt Lauer on Wednesday for alleged sexual misconduct.
Lauer, who had been with the network since time immemorial, was let go in advance of a Variety article detailing Lauer’s misdeeds at 30 Rock and elsewhere. Among these including exposing himself to fellow employees, inappropriate comments and gifts, and stories of Lauer using his secluded office for untoward purposes.
However, perhaps viewers (and NBC) should have wised up to Lauer’s dark side years ago. In the wake of his firing, an interview featuring one-time “Today” co-host Katie Couric re-emerged with some telling information about Lauer’s habits.
In the 2012 interview with Bravo’s Andy Cohen, Couric was asked what Lauer’s most annoying habit was.
“He pinches me on the a** a lot,” Couric responded, almost without hesitation.
During the piece, Couric was also asked to play a game of “shag, marry, and kill,” a slightly more family-friendly version of a parlor game in which the player is given three people with whom they have to hypothetically engage in coital relations, enter into wedlock or do away with.
The great irony here is that the game (under its traditional name of “f***, marry, kill”) actually figures heavily in Variety’s report on Lauer. According to the report, the anchor would try to play it with female employees who didn’t view the pastime with unmixed delight.
That, however, is the least of Lauer’s worries.
Other instances of inappropriate behavior cited by the folks at the Peacock Network include Lauer giving a female co-worker a sex toy for a present (along with instructions on just how he would use it upon her), and dropping his pants in front of a female employee he had summoned to his office, then rebuking her for not taking advantage of his invitation for sexual contact.
There was also the revelation that Lauer’s office, which was in a secluded part of the building, had a button that would automatically lock the door, just in case Lauer didn’t want anyone to get in (or out). It was also reported that Lauer, who is married, would use his position to “frequently dismiss stories about cheating husbands.” Ten separate accounts assembled by Variety indicated that the married Lauer “was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks.”
The final cause for dismissal, according to Variety, “was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months.”
While NBC News Chairman NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said that this was the first complaint executives had received about Lauer during the anchor’s 20 years at the network, Lack noted that they “were also presented with reason to believe that this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Indeed, 10 separate accounts assembled by Variety indicated that Lauer “was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks.” He would also invite female NBC employees to his hotel room while he was abroad covering the Olympics with NBC. The problem was so bad that Lauer’s wife traveled with him to London during the 2016 Olympics because she felt he couldn’t be trusted to be alone.
Can’t fault her for being right, but the ironic thing is that NBC ought to have known about this behavior before this.
In fact, Variety notes that “(s)everal women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today.’” Another NBC reporter put it more succinctly when talking to The Daily Beast: ““Management sucks there. They protected the s*** out of Matt Lauer.”
This is the same story we’ve heard over and over again in the entertainment industry, and it’s always ended in the same way, at least these past few months: Shame for host, ignominy for the enablers.
Maybe they ought to have listened to Katie Couric. Or, for that matter, any of the numerous women who reported him before this.
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H/T The Daily Caller