A lot of powerful men have been accused of some vile things in recent weeks, but Matt Lauer getting fired over sexual misconduct is still a major story. Maybe the major story.
Though we heard that the firing was the result of accusations of sexual assault at the Sochi Winter Olympics, we haven’t heard many details of the alleged bad behavior.
Until now, that is, because we have details on the accusations against him.
The unfortunate nature of these kinds of things — a man whom NBC valued enough to pay $25 million per year — is that the first accusation is seldom the last.
In one form or another, Matt Lauer has been a Today anchor for about 25 years — initially acting as an occasional substitute anchor before taking on the role in a full-time capacity in 1994.
He has had a very, very long time to perpetrate alleged acts of sexual misconduct. His list of accusers has only just now begun to grow.
As we have discussed many times before, there are a number of pressures — social and societal, but also professional and financial — that can act to keep women from coming forward when they are sexually harassed or assaulted.
In some cases, it’s an organized effort — blackmail, or threats of lawsuits or professional retaliation. In other cases, it’s simply the fear of those and how society might respond.
Compounding those problems is the fact that, in many cases, women with these experiences don’t initially realize that they’re part of a pattern. It’s easy to believe that you’re someone’s only victim. That can also lead survivors to blame themselves.
There’s still so much that we don’t know about Matt Lauer, including the pattern of inappropriate behavior that apparently began at the Sochi Olympics and resulted in his firing.
But we do have these bits of new information, from three different women. And there’s more.
Variety reports that they have been working, very quietly, on a story about Matt Lauer.
They report on three different accusations, each confirmed with witnesses who were told in the immediate aftermath, from three women:
“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.”
We’ll go over these in a moment, but that allegation alone makes us wildly uncomfortable.
“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.”
Do you know where penises belong in the workplace? Inside of the penis-owner’s pants. Ideally, also enclosed within underwear.
There are very few workplace environments where an exposed penis is appropriate. And you would be really, really sure if you worked in one.
A third example of his alleged behavior comes up:
“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.”
Okay, so let’s go over these.
First, you might be thinking that sex toys are appropriate gifts. Sure, in a few cases, they might be — between close friends or lovers or a very small number of other relationships.
Do not buy one for your coworker unless you are dating or it is on their Amazon list.
And absolutely do not include a note about how you’d like to use it on them. That escalates things from “wow, what an inappropriate gift” to “I need an adult.”
Again, in most jobs, your coworkers should not have even the slightest clue what your genitals look like. Not from photos that you send them and not from “wardrobe malfunctions” around the office.
For all that they know, you might just have a swarm of bees down there. Do not correct them, verbally or visually.
Now, “marry, f–k, kill” might be a cute game to play about Game of Thrones characters or maybe even some celebrities, but playing it with coworkers does not contribute to a positive work environment.
In the best case scenario, in which maybe everyone is totally fine with hypothetically banging and/or marrying everyone else, you’re still going to have to declare that you’d “kill” one-third of your coworkers.
Unfortunately, those three accusations were not the end of what we’ve heard.
Variety‘s report continues:
“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.”
Ten different employees! And yes, there are specifics:
“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.”
One former producer who alleged that they had first-hand knowledge of Lauer’s bad behavior said:
“”There were a lot of consensual relationships, but that’s still a problem because of the power he held.”
This is why you shouldn’t ask out people at work, folks. Saying “yes” to someone who could end your career isn’t always a choice.
That former producer continued:
“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.”
Do you want some more creepy details? Because Variety has them:
“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.”
We all like privacy, even at work, but if a strict knock first rule isn’t enough and you so regularly have to lock your door that you’d rather just have a desk button … you’re probably doing things at work that you should not.
“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.”
Variety goes on to describe how, according to multiple witnesses, Matt Lauer would invite young and ambitious women to his hotel room while traveling for NBC, particularly for the Olympics.
In at least one case, he apparently simply asked a woman to bring him a pillow.
All of these allegations are gross. Because abuse of power, hypocrisy, and sexual harassment are always, always disgusting and disturbing.