The first person I heard from Wednesday morning was my sister who sent a text that read “Nooooooo, not Matt Lauer.” I was just waking up and hadn’t heard anything about the allegations. My sister and I have both been fans of the TODAY Show for years. She was the person who called me the morning of 9-11 while she was watching TODAY after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Over the years the show has declined in quality, but I’m a creature of habit and part of my morning routine has been to either watch at least the first few segments of TODAY live or on the DVR. Matt and Katie—Matt and Anne—Matt and Meredith and for the past 5 years Matt and Savannah have sort of become a part of my life. Not unlike listeners of KMOX who welcome all of us into their lives on a daily basis, you tend to get pretty attached to the anchors and personalities who you watch on a regular basis. Charlie Rose was hard to believe but Matt Lauer for me even more so because I considered myself a fan.
It leads a lot of people to wonder who’s next. And when will it all stop? We’re at the point of sexual misconduct fatigue. It’s exhausting, and not unlike the reactions to mass shootings, you become a bit desensitized to it all. Just to be clear—I don’t have a problem with celebrities, politicians or anyone else finally having serious consequences for what’s been exposed as decades of immoral, reckless and reprehensible behavior. But I do have concerns that some of this has gone way overboard and is bordering on a witch hunt. Some of what I’ve read about Lauer so far seems pretty creepy. But there are other parts of his story, Al Franken’s story and maybe a few others that probably make a lot of people uneasy in a different way. Maybe it’s because I work in a non-traditional industry, but people say and do inappropriate things at work and around co-workers all the time. I’m not talking about being abusive or coercive or using your power to pressure colleagues or interns into sex acts, there’s no excuse or defense for that. But I can promise you that over the years a lot of us have said things or done things around the people we work with that might get us into a little trouble with HR if the wrong person overhears the conversation.
I’m a firm believer in the notion that there’s ALWAYS another side of the story. Always. If you have a friend going through a divorce or a breakup and you only hear their side of what went wrong in the relationship, you’re not getting the entire picture. It’s a bit dangerous to cast judgment based on a single version of alleged misconduct. It’s also a bit dangerous for a guy like me to write some of these things because it’s bound to be interpreted as blaming the victim. I’m not doing that, in fact one of the things I’ve encouraged my listeners to do these past few weeks is to read the entire stories that have been printed about Weinstien, Spacey, Louis CK, Franken, Charlie Rose and now Matt Lauer. Hearing only bits and pieces doesn’t give you the scope of what these guys are being accused of and, in some cases, have confessed to. The details in some of these cases are pretty stunning. It’s hard to wrap your brain around the notion that someone who is a prominent public figure or celebrity would even dare to walk around a hotel room with only a towel on or expose themselves to women they work with in hopes of the reciprocation of sexual desire.
But a friend of mine who runs a very successful business sent this text to me in the aftermath of the Lauer revelations:
“Not a day goes by that I don’t say something inappropriate—Men hunt, women gather. We are different species. Let’s celebrate our differences.”
Don’t email me; its not MY quote! But it is food for thought.