When NBC announced this morning that the “Today” show host Matt Lauer was latest domino to fall in the sexual abuse scandal that has gripped America, many in the industry and media were shocked.
The New York Times published a memo sent by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack to network staff informing them:
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
Evidence that “this may not have been an isolated incident” has been available for at least five years, but the network seemed not to notice. To wit, in June 2012, Lauer’s former co-host, Katie Couric, was a guest on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens.”
When asked by host Andy Cohen to name Lauer’s most annoying habit, Couric reflected for a moment, then replied, “He pinches me on the ass a lot.”
Here’s a video of the exchange. Notice the audience’s response.
I can’t say whether the “Laugh” sign in the studio lit up following Couric’s truthful answer, cuing the audience on how to behave, but the nation has long been conditioned by the media to accept good-naturedly the crude behaviors of on-air personalities. If we are to believe another TV entertainer, Al Franken, who claims his own butt pats were meant to be innocent, the takeaway is that there is much more of this to come.
Whether the “Laugh” sign would have been illuminated as frequently if the entertainment industry were predominantly conservative remains to be seen.