This morning, in a shocking move, it was announced that NBC had fired Today co-host Matt Lauer over “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” He’s just the latest in a long line of powerful men, many in the media, to face a reckoning over their behavior in the weeks since the Harvey Weinstein scandal first broke.
We’re still waiting for more details on the Lauer situation, but looking back on his almost 20-year history with the Today show, it would appear that there were clues all along to his issues with women. Lauer joined as Katie Couric’s co-host on the display in 1997 and has since risen to a place of incredible power and influence at the network. His most recent contract extension simply one 12 months ago was reported to be worth $20 million a year.
With great power, there is supposed to come great responsibility, but in Lauer’s case, he’s often mishandled his conversations with ladies, both on and of the air. The news of Lauer’s firing offers brought many of these instances back again into the conversation.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most obvious ones:
Ann Curry Departs Today
Ann Curry’s tenure as co-anchor of Today ended in June 2012 after just over a year-though she had been on the morning show since 1997 as the news anchor. It was widely reported that she and Lauer did not get along and that he had much to do with her firing. According to a lengthy New York magazine piece on the inner workings of the morning hours display, “Off air, Curry and Lauer experienced no relationship and barely spoke.” In her teary on-air farewell, the tension between Curry and Lauer is visible as you can see her try to move away from his embrace-even more noticeable when contrasted with the warmth she shows Al Roker and Natalie Morales. Yet, Lauer prevailed and soon got a new cohost in Savannah Guthrie.
The Anne Hathaway Interview
Back in 2012, doing press for Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway was photographed getting out of her car for an event in such a way that it showed up her dress, revealing her to not be wearing any underwear. It was horrible enough that the photos were sold and published, but Lauer’s interview with her soon after on Today was extra icky. He opened by greeting her with, “Nice to see you, seen a lot of you lately.” It was icky then, and perhaps even more so now. He after that goes on to ask her what lessons she’s learned from it, as if she’d done something wrong in the first place. Hathaway takes it in stride and with grace-as so many women do-saying: “It was obviously an unfortunate incident. It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One was that I was very unfortunate that when we live in an age where someone requires a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment, and rather than delete it and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we reside in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants. Which brings us back to Les Mis.” Lauer’s sexism is on bold display here, and yet outside of some internet and media chatter, there had been no serious repercussions.
— Heather Havrilesky (@hhavrilesky) November 29, 2017
Hillary vs. Trump
During the heat of the 2016 presidential election, candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sat down with Lauer during a live one-hour forum, with each answering questions for 30 minutes. Lauer was roundly criticized for his constant interruptions of Clinton while allowing Trump to ramble on. He focused intently on her emails but did not call into question apparent untruths from Trump on matters like Iraq and Libya. He questioned her fitness for office while asking Trump soft questions like “Why should you be commander-in-chief?”
The difference in tone was evident and all too familiar, at least to many women watching. Clinton herself wrote in her book What Happened: “Now I was ticked off. NBC knew exactly what it was doing here. The network was treating this like an episode of The Apprentice, in which Trump stars and ratings soar. Lauer had turned what should have been a serious discussion into a pointless ambush. What a waste of time.”
So while today’s news may be shocking to some, to others it’s been evident all along that at the very least, Lauer was an alpha male with sexist tendencies that he used to put women at a disadvantage.