Our Moral Betters: NBC's Culture of Sexual Harassment Is a Look Into How Traditional Media Is More Shameful Than the People They Routinely Shame

This Nov. 16, 2017 photo released by NBC shows Matt Lauer during a broadcast of the “Today,” show in New York. NBC News fired the longtime host for “inappropriate sexual behavior.” Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of Wednesday’s “Today” show. ( Zach Pagano/NBC via AP)


I want to start by saying that I have serious problems with the narrative coming out about NBC News and its culture of sexual harassment and abuse. Not because I don’t believe it. Because I don’t think it goes far enough. The women engaged in extramarital affairs, for example, seem to be getting a pass because those guys they were sleeping with ended up being abusive jerks.

But when it comes to the toxic culture NBC seems to have cultivated and operated under for years — as detailed in Ronan Farrow’s forthcoming book, Catch and Kill — those women (and to be clear, this doesn’t apply to all women who worked there) don’t get a pass from me. Because they helped perpetuate it.

And, as Becket Adams writes at The Washington Examiner, the culture may have been way worse than anyone knew.

Now Adams doesn’t talk about the ladies except to acknowledge their claims of abuse, so if you’re inclined to think I’m victim shaming, please direct your criticism to me alone. But he does point out that NBC’s self-assessment of their poisonous working environment didn’t apparently go far enough — which is, ironically, another indicator of just how bad things were over there.

MSNBC president Phil Griffin, for example, grew so comfortable in whatever culture produced disgraced former host Matt Lauer that he once touted photos of NBC star Maria Menounos’ vagina during a meeting with colleagues, according to journalist Ronan Farrow.

Farrow reports in his forthcoming book, Catch & Kill:

Four colleagues said Griffin was known for making lewd or crass remarks in work emails. In one meeting I’d be in after the television personality Maria Menounos’s vagina had been photographed in a bathing suit wardrobe malfunction, Griffin waved around a printed page bearing a zoomed-in image, smirking.

“Would you look at that? Not bad, not bad,” Griffin reportedly remarked.

Remember: This is the president of a major cable news network. He reportedly said this of an NBC employee’s vagina in a meeting with other NBC employees. That Griffin apparently felt comfortable enough to do something like this in front of colleagues should tell you a little something about how Lauer was able to get away with his alleged sexual depredations for as long as he did.


I think Menounos’ victimhood in this situation is much more troubling than the stories coming from mistresses who were forced to do things they didn’t like by their lovers, but I’m sure many would take exception to that.

I’m just trying to imagine how horrified Menounos must have felt when she was told her image was passed around at that meeting by men she had to work with every day. Absolutely degrading.

While the schadenfreude is pleasant, what’s not so enjoyable is the realization that the network that employs, say, for example, Chris Hayes — who spends most of his airtime shaming people for not being smart enough to be progressive like him (and who is now trying desperately to distance himself from culture he’s made himself a nice living in) — has been a den of debauchery the likes of which most regular people could never imagine tolerating.

The awakening for the mainstream press — and Americans who trusted them — has been rude indeed. But that’s bound to happen when your golden anchors, who sit on high telling everyone how to be a better citizen, turn out to be despicable people who care only about self-gratification.

If NBC survives, perhaps they will have learned a lesson. The American people surely have.


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