For the most part, up until this morning, people have been finding it rather easy to dismiss the series of men who have been recently accused of sexual misconduct, following the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, from their posts as respected members of society. But for many of us, today was a little different.
We woke up to the news that Matt Lauer had been fired from NBC because of sexual assault allegations made against him by an employee. This man, who has been reporting on his predecessors for months now, is all of a sudden joining them.
NBC broke the news themselves (something we are definitely commending them for) on The Today Show, with a teary-eyed Savannah Guthrie reading a statement from NBC News Chairman, Andrew Lack.
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb
According to the New York Times, it took the organization just 34 hours to notify employees of Lauer’s firing from the moment the victim came to them with the allegation. NBC News notes that although it was “the first complaint about [Lauer’s] behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News,” they have reason to believe it was not an isolated incident.
“All we can say is that we are heartbroken,” said Guthrie on air. “I am heartbroken for Matt, he is my dear, dear friend and partner and he is beloved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”
She continued: “We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don’t know the answer to that.”
How does one come to terms with this reality? It kind of feels like we’re the new-age Holden Caulfields or the children from Lord of the Flies, suddenly losing our innocence and trying to make sense of the reality that’s slowly revealing itself to us.
“It’s hard to reconcile what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day…”
Hoda Kotb, who says she’s known Lauer for 15 years and has loved him as both a friend and a colleague, agreed with Guthrie. She was noticeably hurt and clearly still trying to wrap her head around the whole situation. “It’s hard to reconcile what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day …” she said. “We’re trying to process it and trying to make sense of it and it will take some time for that.”
This is possibly the greatest lesson any of us can learn from this Pandora’s box that just keeps spilling out: it’s not always easy. And there have no doubt been people in all of our lives—family members, friends, co-workers—who have had to deal with this same inner dilemma since the first allegation was made public.
Before continuing on to the day’s news, Guthrie closed with this: “But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected.”