Matt Lauer and the credibility crisis at NBC News

It is startling, the way the fiercest enemies of President Trump often end up hoist with their own petards.  Whether you call it coincidence, karma, or cosmic justice, NBC News, the very network that leaked the Billy Bush tape (and fired the Bush family scion shortly after), turns out to have harbored for many years a sexual assaulter who was earning the company huge amounts of money.  Not just talk, but alleged rape in one instance.

NBC also notoriously spiked the reporting of Ronan Farrow on the sexual crimes of Harvey Weinstein, on purported journalistic professionalism issues that bothered the New Yorker not one whit.  And shortly before the Lauer scandal blew up, the network fired Matt Zimmerman, its top talent booker, who had a close relationship with Lauer.

Bad enough, as these factors might be, the president of NBC News, Andrew Lack, has cast himself in the role of Sergeant Schultz, the comic butt of humor on one of the biggest hit shows of archrival CBS, Hogan's Heroes.  Portrayed by actor John Banner, the Schultz character, while working in a Nazi prison camp, constantly denied any knowledge of the Holocaust or other Nazi crimes.  His tagline spoken in a caricature of a German accent has become part of popular culture signifying feigned ignorance: "I know nothing!"


Separated at birth?  Sergeant Schultz (above) and Andrew Lack (below).

Lack's statement on the Lauer firing is a classic of Sergeant Schultzism: "[I]t is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years."

This does not pass the smell test.  Last night on Ticker Carlson's Fox News show, Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis (a former child star very familiar with show business), spoke of her own experiences while working at CNBC and made it clear that there was ample knowledge in the Peacock Empire of what was going on.

When I was at NBC, I had colleagues who I knew of who were assaulted by people sexually. One woman came to me in tears. You need to go report this. I would be happy to support you. She said I don't think they will do anything about. Call Gloria Allred. This woman said I will never work in this industry again. I have worked really hard to get to this point. I don't want to throw away by whole career. There were others who were assaulted and who were harassed. Some of those people are still at NBC and others have gone on to the other big networks. 

Francis also makes the point, similar to that made earlier by Jonah Goldberg, that when Fox News employees were being fired over sexual harassment claims, it was taken by other media outlets – including NBC – as a problem with the Fox culture, but when the problem popped up in the liberal media, it was a societal issue.  

Here is the entire segment, lasting three and a half minutes:

There were other instances of insiders making jokes related to Lauer's questionable behavior.

Kate Couric, Lauer's former broadcast partner, told Andy Cohen on the Bravo Network (a Comcast NBC property) that Lauer's most annoying habit was "pinching my ass."

During a commercial break, Lauer joked about the "nice view" while looking down Meredith Vieira's sweater as she bent over.

In 2012, The Today Show broadcast a painfully unfunny, bizarre comedy segment with Lauer making fun of sexual harassment charges.

Throwback to 2012 when Matt Lauer was the "real victim" of sexual harassment on the Today show 🤔 pic.twitter.com/mYdnhEV2wv

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 29, 2017

Last year, appearing on Vieira's show, the two joked about finding a bag of sex toys in his office when she visited.

Is there any reason that a sane person would trust "news" from an organization whose leader is willfully ignorant of behavior that was repeatedly joked about on air and talked about behind the scenes inside the organization?

It is startling, the way the fiercest enemies of President Trump often end up hoist with their own petards.  Whether you call it coincidence, karma, or cosmic justice, NBC News, the very network that leaked the Billy Bush tape (and fired the Bush family scion shortly after), turns out to have harbored for many years a sexual assaulter who was earning the company huge amounts of money.  Not just talk, but alleged rape in one instance.

NBC also notoriously spiked the reporting of Ronan Farrow on the sexual crimes of Harvey Weinstein, on purported journalistic professionalism issues that bothered the New Yorker not one whit.  And shortly before the Lauer scandal blew up, the network fired Matt Zimmerman, its top talent booker, who had a close relationship with Lauer.

Bad enough, as these factors might be, the president of NBC News, Andrew Lack, has cast himself in the role of Sergeant Schultz, the comic butt of humor on one of the biggest hit shows of archrival CBS, Hogan's Heroes.  Portrayed by actor John Banner, the Schultz character, while working in a Nazi prison camp, constantly denied any knowledge of the Holocaust or other Nazi crimes.  His tagline spoken in a caricature of a German accent has become part of popular culture signifying feigned ignorance: "I know nothing!"


Separated at birth?  Sergeant Schultz (above) and Andrew Lack (below).

Lack's statement on the Lauer firing is a classic of Sergeant Schultzism: "[I]t is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years."

This does not pass the smell test.  Last night on Ticker Carlson's Fox News show, Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis (a former child star very familiar with show business), spoke of her own experiences while working at CNBC and made it clear that there was ample knowledge in the Peacock Empire of what was going on.

When I was at NBC, I had colleagues who I knew of who were assaulted by people sexually. One woman came to me in tears. You need to go report this. I would be happy to support you. She said I don't think they will do anything about. Call Gloria Allred. This woman said I will never work in this industry again. I have worked really hard to get to this point. I don't want to throw away by whole career. There were others who were assaulted and who were harassed. Some of those people are still at NBC and others have gone on to the other big networks. 

Francis also makes the point, similar to that made earlier by Jonah Goldberg, that when Fox News employees were being fired over sexual harassment claims, it was taken by other media outlets – including NBC – as a problem with the Fox culture, but when the problem popped up in the liberal media, it was a societal issue.  

Here is the entire segment, lasting three and a half minutes:

There were other instances of insiders making jokes related to Lauer's questionable behavior.

Kate Couric, Lauer's former broadcast partner, told Andy Cohen on the Bravo Network (a Comcast NBC property) that Lauer's most annoying habit was "pinching my ass."

During a commercial break, Lauer joked about the "nice view" while looking down Meredith Vieira's sweater as she bent over.

In 2012, The Today Show broadcast a painfully unfunny, bizarre comedy segment with Lauer making fun of sexual harassment charges.

Throwback to 2012 when Matt Lauer was the "real victim" of sexual harassment on the Today show 🤔 pic.twitter.com/mYdnhEV2wv

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 29, 2017

Last year, appearing on Vieira's show, the two joked about finding a bag of sex toys in his office when she visited.

Is there any reason that a sane person would trust "news" from an organization whose leader is willfully ignorant of behavior that was repeatedly joked about on air and talked about behind the scenes inside the organization?

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