Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rude Awakening

You don't need to guess what I was doing yesterday when the news of Matt Lauer's abrupt dismissal from the TODAY Show broke, because I'm sure everybody was doing pretty much the same thing...scrolling through FB and Twitter or searching for the remote control to determine if what we were reading/hearing was true.

The sad thing is how so many of us reacted in shock over the swiftness of the dismissal, and not in that much shock over the allegations. At 7am, when Savannah and Hoda opened the show, there were no details to report. Thus, by the time we started to learn about Lauer's secret door-lock button under his desk and his general bitch-assiness, we were learning that Garrison Keillor might be as creepy as we always thought. By the evening, we had moved on from those revelations to "learn" that almost no one who works at 30 Rock, except for the folks on the TODAY Show, actually knew Matt Lauer personally. Which is total bullshit.

I am not even going to defend the fact that I continued to watch the TODAY Show even though I was personally bothered by the way Ann Curry was treated. And the way Tamron Hall was treated. And let's not even talk about Megyn Kelly. Or the way I think Matt and Savannah were just as complicit and responsible for the normalization of #45 as Mika and Joe (and every other news team or anchor that gave him a megaphone for his opinions).

But since I am raising the issue of complicity, I need to acknowledge my own. As a loyal viewer of the TODAY Show, I am one of the millions of reasons why Matt Lauer could be such an asshole and get away with it for so long. I always suspected that the rumors about his inability to keep his pants zipped were true. But his philandering was none of my business. His job was to keep me informed and entertained. If I just wanted the straight information, there was Charlie Rose...

Was I sufficiently tolerant of Charlie Rose's lecherousness? Yes, even though I had no idea that he was like that. I had occasionally witnessed the flirty banter that took place on the morning show with Gayle and Nora, but I didn't watch often enough to notice if it was anything other than on-air chemistry.  

With the revelations about Garrison Keillor, do I dare admit my suspicions that his jocular folksy persona was just a cover up for a randier alter ego? After we learned that Charles Kuralt supported a second wife and her family for nearly 30 years, perhaps we should have looked upon those cuddly bookstore owner types as the most likely to use that sweetness to their advantage. That and the fact that Keillor pretty much adopted the language of there-are-good-people-on-both-sides in his defense of Al Franken just hours before his own sins were revealed.

By now, you probably guessed that I am not really admitting that I approved of, knew about, sanctioned, excused, witnessed, or was ever victimized by any of these men who have been recently felled by their 'inappropriate" behavior. I am suggesting that my understanding and acquiescence to how sexism works in the workplace is part of the cover up that we are often too afraid or unwilling to confront. We all know that certain men have reputations and act with impunity; unfortunately, most of us are too invested in getting along to challenge their hegemony.

So Matt Lauer got flown into work by helicopter so that he could maintain the appearance of being happily married, while still chasing skirts. Al Franken could visit the country fair and brush up against his constituents because everybody wanted to take a picture with him. Russell Simmons could appropriate the language of yoga to mis-remember how he might have sexually violated a woman he thought was down. John Conyers checked himself into a hospital for stress because he's 88 years old. Roy Moore was just looking for virgins.

The President? Well, as long as he's still doing this, you tell me.

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