Dealing with the Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer News

matt-lauer-fired-from-nbcI’ve been a regular CBS news viewer for many years. When the news broke last week about Charlie Rose and sexual harassment, I was stunned and deeply disappointed. Today, we hear that Matt Lauer has been fired by NBC after accusations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. While I was never a big fan of Matt Lauer, I know he had many regular viewers just like Charlie Rose. I’m sure there are many more people who are now dealing with feelings of disappointment and bewilderment. The female co-anchors on the NBC and CBS morning news shows are really feeling the emotional turmoil.

We can likely credit the Weinstein effect for giving women the courage to come forward with accounts of past inappropriate conduct of powerful people and/or popular celebrities. I’m happy that these instances of harassment are getting the attention they deserve. We probably all know of victims, and/or you’ve been a victim yourself of sexual harassment. It can be a touchy subject, in part because victims struggle with feelings of guilt and/or internal questions on whether their appearance or actions helped contribute to conduct that crossed the line. Angela Lansbury, age 92, was featured in the news recently for saying that women must ‘sometimes take blame’ for sexual harassment. I think she’s wrong, but it brings to light just how nuanced this issue can sometimes be.

Case in point: Al Franken has been accused of groping and/or landing his hands on several lady’s buttocks during picture taking moments. Unlike so many others who continue to deny, Al Franken has expressed sincere regret and he has issued apologies for his conduct. I happen to be a fan of, and appreciate all that Al Franken has done for the country. But should his positive contributions excuse bad conduct? Do we conclude that his actions are marginal? Or that they don’t rise to the same level of harassment as others who have been accused?

As a man, I’m lucky to not be a victim. While I know there are some men who are victims, the vast majority are women. And I can only attempt to imagine how it must feel during this period of American history when one prominent man, after another, is brought into the spotlight of sexual misconduct which likely triggers terrible memories for past victims. I can only imagine. What I do know or feel is a sense of loss. I really admired and respected Charlie Rose. His contributions to news reporting have been honored with numerous rewards. Should his sexual misconduct totally erase his positive contributions? If he seeks forgiveness and makes amends with those whom he harassed, should he be restored? Forgiven? To what level do we insist that men remain completely blameless with regard to making inappropriate remarks to women? If a man puts his hand on a woman’s rear end during a picture-taking moment, should he be immediately fired?

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

3 thoughts on “Dealing with the Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer News

  1. I think, when the infraction is small, and when the offender has apologized, learned from their mistake, and promises not to do it again, we forgive them. And that forgiveness holds for as long as they abide by their promise not to do it again.

    But a consistent pattern of using a position of power to force others to submit to unwanted sexual activity, using that position of power to stop them speaking up about it, and then even denying that this kind of behavior is actually a problem, that’s unacceptable. Those are the people that need to lose those powerful positions. Not just to stop them in their abuse now, but to let future powerful people know that it’s not OK to behave like that. We are setting new standards, and people who are raised with the new standards in place will no longer have the excuse of “I thought it was OK to act like that.”

  2. I totally agree with Ubi! Particularly her first paragraph. And while denial of their actions is absolutely unacceptable … few men in positions of power or who have reputations to maintain have “the balls” to own up to their actions. It is, as you say, unfortunate that some of the men in this unfavorable position are well-known and well-liked. But that doesn’t make them any less guilty.

    Part of the underlying problem, I feel, is the subtle, yet very real, perception that women are men’s “play toys.” One would think in this modern world where women have asserted themselves and proven they are more than capable to accomplish any task put before them, this archaic notion would have died. But alas. It has not.

  3. I mostly agree with you… however I do not think women struggle with internal guilt wondering if their actions or appearance contributed to their assault.
    This brave new world of women speaking up is AMAZING. I Facebook messeged the asshole that molested me when I was 12 telling him that I remember.
    It’s important for good men to understand that EVERY woman has a story. Every single one. No one can pretend like they don’t know now.

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