Patterico's Pontifications


NBC: Matt Lauer Out, Facing Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

NBC, which recently passed on Ronan Farrow’s blockbuster Harvey Weinstein scoop, announced that Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC’s “Today,” was fired as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct:

On Wednesday, NBC announced that Lauer was fired from “Today.” It was a stunning move for a co-host who was widely considered the crown jewel of the network’s news division, with a $25 million annual salary. The cause of his dismissal, according to sources, was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months.

The employee met with human resources at NBC on Monday night. In a statement, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack called this the first complaint about his behavior in over 20 years and acknowledged that it may not be the last: “We were also presented with reason to believe that this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack said.

Lauer’s misbheavor was indeed, not just limited to the Sochi Olympics:

As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.

On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.

He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f—, marry, or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.

These accounts of Lauer’s behavior at NBC are the result of a two-month investigation by Variety, with dozens of interviews with current and former staffers. Variety has talked to three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, and their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time. They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions.

Because Lauer maintained a carefully constructed “good guy” public persona, coupled with being an easily recognized face, interactions were limited to employees “in his stable”:

Despite being married, Lauer was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks, according to more than 10 accounts from current and former employees. He was known for making lewd comments verbally or over text messages. He once made a suggestive reference to a colleague’s performance in bed and compared it to how she was able to complete her job, according to witnesses to the exchange. For Lauer, work and sex were intertwined.

“There were a lot of consensual relationships, but that’s still a problem because of the power he held,” says a former producer who knew first-hand of these encounters. “He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”

And most creepily of all:

His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.

Apparently NBC knew, to some degree, of Lauer’s misconduct but allegedly chose to protect their $25 million per year investment:

Lauer’s conduct was not a secret among other employees at “Today,” numerous sources say. At least one of the anchors would gossip about stories she had heard, spreading them among the staff. “Management sucks there,” says a former reporter, who asked not to be identified, speaking about executives who previously worked at the show. “They protected the s— out of Matt Lauer.”

Most ironically, Lauer took Bill O’Reilly to task last year about his bad behavior, exhorting the fallen O’Reilly to “think about how intimidating” it was for women to file their complaints against the biggest star at the network:

In September, Lauer asked Fox News star anchor Bill O’Reilly if he’d ever sent lewd text messages to colleagues. “Think about those … women and what they did,” Lauer said. “They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think about how intimidating that must have been. Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about you?”

This, unbelievably, from one of the biggest stars at NBC, who dropped his pants and showed his penis to a female employee. In his secluded office that had a secret lock concealed under his desk to lock the door. And then actually took the employee to task for not sexually engaging with him.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Congressional Black Caucus Member: Elected Officials Are A Protected And Entitled Class

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:36 pm

[guess post by Dana]

It is being reported that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are encouraging Democratic Rep. John Conyers to resign in light of recent revelations about sexual misconduct allegations and a taxpayer-funded payout made to an alleged victim. However, according to one staffer’s comments, the priority seems to be more about protecting Conyer’s legacy than anything else.

This morning, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) demonstrated a staggering level of tone-deaf arrogance when he revealed his belief that the standards of accountability for an elected official caught up in sexual misconduct allegations should be less than those from private industry facing similar circumstances. The stunning revelation happened when Clyburn and the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond (D-La.) were confronted by reporters who questioned the different standards, citing those in the entertainment industry who have lost their jobs as a result of sexual misconduct scandals:

“Other men in other industries have faced similar accusations, and have gotten out of the way – resigned, stepped down far faster than he has,” a reporter said in the video, referring to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

“I don’t know, you would have to give me some examples,” Richmond responded.

“Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer,” reporters said.

“Who elected them?” Clyburn said before getting on an elevator. The doors closed before he clarified the remark.

That’s right. Politicians are elected, therefore they shouldn’t be held to the same standards as anyone else. They are a protected and privileged class of elites that should be handled with kid gloves. Call me crazy, but in my world, I expect them to be held to an even higher standard of accountability, given that they are elected by the people, as well as their salaries being paid by the people. Clyburn’s smug conceit adds clarity to why Congress is so loathed by the vast majority of Americans.

This morning’s revelation is also unsurprising given that last week, when the allegations against John Conyers were made public, Clyburn initially said that “Sexual harassment is a very serious matter and cannot be tolerated,” but immediately followed that by expressing doubts about the accusers.

I maintain that the danger of these politicians is, not only do they believe themselves to be in a class above the rest of us, they do so because they have learned that they can get away with their bad behavior, including that of sexual impropriety toward subordinates and staffers. They’ve done so for decades because the established system has allowed them to. And in spite of all the current demands to overhaul sexual harassment policies in Congress, when the terms “icon” and “legacy” are being used by powerful Democrats to shield a member facing serious allegations, I don’t think an overhaul of this built-in “perk” that comes with being a member of Congress will actually include any teeth.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


The RedState Fact Checker™ on Mike Pence’s Employment Claims

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

Today I am introducing the RedState Fact Checker™:* a recurring feature in which I fact-check claims that have been dealt with poorly by Big Media Fact Checkers. Today we analyze a claim by Vice President Mike Pence on job numbers.


“There are more Americans working today than ever before in American history.” — Vice President Pence, remarks during a speech at the Tax Foundation, Nov. 16, 2017

The Facts

Indeed, there are more Americans working today than ever before in American history. Therefore, the claim is:



Nice job, everyone! Go grab yourselves a well-earned beer.

Today, the Washington Post Fact Checker analyzes the same claim, states that it is literally true — saying (and I quote): “Of course there are more Americans working” — and then proceeds to give the claim three Pinocchios.

Why? Because, they say, it is misleading.

This is the problem with fact checkers who dive into the realm of opinion. Is the statement misleading? Yeah, probably. As the article argues, the fact cited by Pence is a reflection of the growing population. The number of Americans working tends to go up because the population rises. That doesn’t automatically make the employment picture a pretty one. Obama could have made the same claim, they say, but didn’t. And, now that Obama is safely out of office, Big Media all of a sudden has discovered the labor force participation rate — something many of us cited, and continue to cite, when Big Media cites the largely meaningless “unemployment” number that ignores people who have given up looking for work. And that rate is still pretty poor. Just like it was under Obama.

But you don’t give “Pinocchios” to a fact that is true because you believe it is misleading. That is a political judgment. And (someone should try explaining this to the fact checkers sometime) checking facts is not about exercising political judgment about whether a political argument is sound. It is about fact checking. That’s why the WaPo’s feature is called the “Fact Checker” and not the “Analyzer of Whether We Agree With Certain Political Claims.”

And frankly, whether a political claim is misleading is sometimes less clear than others. Let’s illustrate this by looking at some examples from the past.

Carly Fiorina said she went from “secretary to CEO.” The Washington Post fact checkers noted she had “worked briefly as a secretary” and was later a CEO. Meaning she said she had been a secretary and a CEO, and she had been a secretary and a CEO. What did they give her for her statement? Three Pinocchios.

Ted Cruz once made this claim: “On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — not a one of them as good.” The Washington Post Fact Checker determined that the literally translated King James Version of the Bible contains just over 800,000 words, while there were as many as 3.7 million individual words in the IRS tax code at the time. In other words, Cruz’s claim was true. Did they declare Cruz’s fact to be true, dust off their hands, and go celebrate their fact-checking job with high-fives and a cocktail? No. They refused to declare the fact true, instead launching into a long (and misplaced) argument that the true fact was somehow meaningless.

In their political judgment.

“Fact” checkers do this all the time, and the WaPo version is one of the worst. But never fear: as long as I live and breathe, there will always be the RedState Fact Checker™, to make the obvious calls that Big Media is too partisan to make.

*Previously the Patterico Fact Checker™.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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