This past Wednesday, Matt Lauer, popular co-host of “The Today Show,” was fired by NBC News over sexual misconduct allegations. As of now, three people have complained about Lauer, with the earliest tracing back to 2001 and the latest during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Coming as a shock to the nation, but apparently not to the network, it truly was a blindsided case of sexual assault — a theme that has been disturbingly popular in the media in recent weeks. As a watcher of “The Today Show,” I was truly surprised that Lauer, even after reporting extensively on recent sexual assault cases against high-profile social figures, was shameless enough to be a perpetrator and not say anything. Lauer’s public apology seems to be one to avoid scrutiny, rather than a genuine apology out of remorse.
With all the cases of high-profile sexual assaults, from Harvey Weinstein to Charlie Rose, I feel the most betrayed by this news considering it was Matt Lauer. My family and I have watched and respected him over the years, as both a host and a personal role model. I have seen him in the spotlight, not only as a journalist, but as a celebrity, a father and an opponent of all forms of violence. He has organized countless fundraisers and been a supporter of many foundations such as Soles4Souls and Red Nose — all acts of public goods that have lead people to idolize him as a kind-hearted and genuine public figure. Now, reports are flooding in from victims of cases, one where he gave a female employee a sex toy with a crude note attached on using it on her to another case where he would conduct games of “f—, marry, or kill,” of his co-workers to another female employee.
Now we are left with nothing other than his hypocrisy. Yet, what is most astonishing is that his job for the last few weeks has consisted of reading off a teleprompter about the unravelled lives of men with equal or more fame who have made similar poor choices of sexual assault and are suffering both the legal and public image repercussions. If Lauer would have had some great sense of deep reflection about his behavior with women, that he could have compared to the recent high-profile reports, the most sensible move would have been to come clean. That would have shown character and trust in his favor as he apologized Instead, his apology seems to be just carefully constructed to say the right things in order to take the least amount of public damage.
If figures like Weinstein, Rose, Affleck, Stacy and Lauer are perpetrators of sexual assault, I’m left wondering what male public figures are guilty of similar offenses. High-profile men who have committed these crimes should come out of the woodwork now, rather than waiting to apologize until the truth comes out of its own accord.
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