Today Show host and others fired amid misconduct allegations

By Caroline Favret, ’18

Matt Lauer is the newest high-profile man recently accused of sexual misconduct, joining movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, and former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly in the growing list.  

He was fired Tuesday, and the firing was announced Wednesday morning by his co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.  Kotb finished out the week filling in Lauer’s spot.

Lauer had been a co-anchor on NBC News the “Today” show since 1997, after three years as a news anchor.  

“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” said NBS News Chairman Andy Lack in a statement on Nov. 29.

The original victim reported inappropriate behavior originating during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.  Just 36 hours after the firing, two more victims came forward with allegations.  

For many, this news comes as a shock, including senior broadcast student Sydney Lowe.

“I was very surprised to hear the news,” Lowe said, “As long as I remember I’ve been watching the show.”

Also this week, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg terminated their contracts with long time anchor Charlie Rose, and Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

Rose was part of “CBS This Morning,” and the female co-hosts Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King broke the news to audiences, much like Guthrie and Kotb did for Lauer.  Christiane Amanpour is to take Rose’s place for the time being.  Amanpour is currently the Chief International Correspondent for CNN.

Rose released a formal apology on Twitter on Nov. 20.

“I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.  I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken,” Rose said.

Lauer’s statement, read on the “Today” show the day after his firing was announced, reads similarly.

“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly,” Lauer said.

Both of these men will leave large gaps to fill in their respective shows.  

“The dynamic is different between the co-hosts [Guthrie and Kotb] , but I think they’ve maintained a good show that I enjoy watching,” Lowe said.

As for Keillor, MPR is currently investigating a story reported during production of his “A Prairie Home Companion,” a popular radio variety show.  

In message to MPR News Keillor said, “I think the country is in the grip of a mania — the whole Franken business [a reference to sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken] is an absurdity — and I wish someone who resist it [sic], but I expect MPR to look out for itself, and meanwhile I feel awfully lucky to have hung on for so long.”

He hosted the show from 1974 to 2016, garnering a following of 4 million listeners per week. “Today” and “CBS This Morning” rank among the top morning television programs with a similar number of viewers.

Accompanying this trend is the #MeToo movement.  This hashtag has exploded on Twitter recently, as more women feel comfortable sharing their stories, as “they too” have experienced some sort of sexual misconduct.

On Dec. 6, Time announced this campaign as the 2017 “Person of the Year,” with 5 women on the cover who have spoken out against their powerful abusers.  This movement has empowered women to talk about their experiences rather than remaining silent and fearful, going hand in hand with the growing number of men accused.

For now, Lauer will be focused on “repairing the damage.”  NBC has not yet named an interim or permanent fill-in for Lauer’s previous position as co-anchor of the “Today” show.