Matt Lauer loses job after sexual harassment accusations

(image courtesy of David Shankbone CC BY 3.0)

TAMPA—“Today” show anchor Matt Lauer joined the constantly-growing list of celebrities ousted from their jobs Nov. 30 after being accused of workplace sexual misconduct.

After NBC fired Lauer, more accusers came forward, just as they did when Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct went public. The online publication Variety published a story about Lauer that reporters said took months to investigate. The article details accounts from multiple women, beyond the first complaint NBC says it received.

Fellow “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie and coworker Hoda Kotb reported Lauer’s firing on-air the morning that news first broke.

CNN noted that this is not the first time women have reported news of a colleague being fired after sexual misconduct allegations. People praised Guthrie’s composure and display of raw emotions.

Others criticized Guthrie and Kotb for not focusing on the women who came forward. Some even accused the cohosts of being aware of the alleged misconduct.

In the days following Lauer’s firing, more women have come forward, and videos have emerged showing Lauer acting inappropriate toward women on the “Today” show.

Lauer released a statement Thursday saying he feels “embarrassed and ashamed,” and is committed to “repairing the damage” he inflicted. He did say that some of the allegations and reporting of his misconduct is “untrue,” but offered no further clarification.

According to multiple news sources, Lauer and his wife, Annette Roque, have lived apart for years. In 2006, Roque filed for divorce, but ultimately did not follow through. The couple has three children together.

While people criticized Lauer for the behavior women accused him of, some defended him. Geraldo Rivera, a well-known reporter, tweeted about the scandal on Wednesday.

He also wrote that women should have to report harassment within a certain time period. Rivera apologized later that day after receiving backlash from people who claimed he victim-shamed Lauer’s accusers and victims of sexual harassment.

Some people think that Rivera’s mindset mirrors that of many people across the United States who do not believe sexual harassment is a serious problem.

Another controversy that arose from Lauer’s firing involved President Trump. Trump’s complicated history with sexually inappropriate remarks is no secret, but some believe he is guilty of more than inappropriate statements. An op-ed in the LA Times asked why Trump has not been held accountable for the sexual assault accusations against him.

Twitter users wondered the same.

Trump himself commented on the accusations about Lauer, but did not mention anything about his history of being accused of sexual misconduct. Instead, he continued to attack media, as he has done several times in the past.

Lauer has not made a statement about any of the individual accusations at this time, and his conduct is still under investigation by NBC. The company will reportedly not pay out the rest of his $20 million dollar per year paycheck.

 

Trump threatens the media on Twitter

President Trump speaking at a rally. Courtesy of Pixabay.

President Donald Trump recently tweeted a threat to revoke broadcast network FCC licenses, which could be a cause for concern for media organizations.

It troubles news sources and defenders of the First Amendment that Trump is attacking a fundamental democratic right even though he does not have the power to revoke FCC licenses, and the FCC does not license individual networks, according to their website.

Trump repeatedly criticized the media while campaigning for president, and his attacks have only increased since taking office.

One of his most affecting comments came in February, when he declared the media an enemy.

How did it come to this?

The media has conducted itself as the fourth estate for centuries. Which means, ethically, it must act as an objective party that keeps checks and balances on the government by always reporting the truth, according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

According to the Constitution, the president and Congress has to take an oath of office before representing the country. It states they must support and defend everything in the Constitution. Which includes freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Two promises.

Two separate entities, swearing to act on the public’s behalf.

So, who is following through?

A recent Reynolds Journalism Institute poll shows that about two-thirds of the public are either likely, or very likely to trust the mainstream media.

A CNN poll from August found that three-quarters of all Americans do not trust the majority of information that the White House releases.

Since Gallup began polling Americans, the highest rating of confidence  was in 1976 when 72 percent of Americans trusted the media. The public’s trust in the media has steadily declined since 2007, and it dropped heavily in 2015.

However, recent trends indicate that the public has begun to trust the media again, according to the Reynolds Journalism Institute poll.

The Pew Research Center says the highest rating of trust in government (from 1958 until 2017) was in 1964, when 77 percent of Americans reported that they could trust the federal government.

However, trust in government dipped under 20 percent during the Clinton and Obama administrations. Sudden peaks or valleys in these confidence ratings generally occur after a scandal or national event, such as Clinton’s impeachment and 9/11.

The public does not overwhelmingly trust the government or journalists, which should be a concern because the public is the most important audience for each of them.

What does Twitter think?

Both Trump and the media has critics and supporters when it comes to Twitter .

Regardless, the public is consistently going back and forth about whether the president, or the media, is justified.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an end in sight for the war between Trump and the media.

ESPN recently suspended one of its personalities, Jemele Hill, for tweeting about the NFL’s national anthem protest.

Trump targeted Hill. He tweeted about ESPN and the NFL dozens of times in response to the anthem protests and her tweets.

But, Hill has also previously criticized Trump.

The fighting continues, and the low jabs on both sides will probably not help matters.

Trump and the media have gone back and forth several times. Infographic by Katie Ebner.