Matt Lauer has been the face of NBC morning television for 20 years, a constant in the ever-changing and tumultuous world of TV. He told us about the World Trade Center on that awful September morning. He interviewed Olympic gold medalists fresh from inspiring glory.
Today, he’s out of a job amid allegations of sexual assault.
In a profession where the goal is to deliver the news—not to become the news—he’s had a sudden, very serious and complete fall from grace.
Honestly, I don’t quite know how to process it.
But as I watched video of TODAY Show anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb breaking the news of Lauer’s termination, Guthrie’s emotional response to reading the news from the desk Lauer occupied only hours before struck me. “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?” And isn’t that the crux of it, for many of us today?
Let me be very clear: I’ve never been a victim of sexual assault or abuse, so I cannot begin to understand what that ongoing emotional trauma feels like. Full stop.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for victims who come forward to reveal their deeply personal wounds, who help bring offenders to justice and awareness to our collective conscience.
I have friends on social media who have lived through abuse and harassment, and they’re sounding off today, have been sounding off for weeks in the wake of so many stories of abuse coming to light. I “like” their statuses, applaud their bravery, ache for their suffering.
But quite frankly, I’m afraid to say the wrong thing, so I stay quiet. I talk with friends about it in brief, vanilla statements. “Did you hear about Matt Lauer?” “Yeah . . . so shocking.” And that’s it—because we’re struggling to know how to react. We’re struggling to know how to offer support when we don’t understand, when we can’t understand.
My husband and I are raising a son and three daughters in this culture, where more and more often, men I once thought were “the good ones” are revealed to be the opposite. I want to understand.
I want my daughters to know that they are worthy of nothing but respect.
I want my son to know the only appropriate way to treat a woman is with respect.
I want each one of them to understand words have power, to learn to use them wisely.
And I so badly want to stop waking up to news of another case of assault, another disappointing revelation of character.
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