Brent Bozell: Matt Lauer and the sexual harassment hypocrisy

So the top broadcast news journalist who raked the former top cable news journalist over sexual harassment has now been fired for sexual harassment. You can’t make this stuff up. Matt Lauer’s canned. As I write these words there is only a report from Variety that describes his alleged indiscretions, but one thing is for certain: NBC would not have fired their top star were this not an impeachable offense.

They’re dropping like bowling pins all over Hollywood, in sports, in politics and in journalism. Every day someone new is guilty of sexual harassment.  While the deed is being reported, what is being swept under the rug is the raging hypocrisy.

There is no better example of the cynical mind at work than evidenced by these questions from Lauer to Bill O’Reilly during their Today Show interview on September 19.

He wanted O’Reilly to know what a lout he was: “[O’Reilly’s accusers] came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been! Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?”

In a way Matt Lauer's no different from Al Franken, or Harvey Weinstein, or Charlie Rose, or Bill Clinton, or Garrison Keillor or all those other liberals who publicly champion the rights of women at every opportunity while looking for every opportunity privately to torment them.

He wanted to know if O’Reilly was truly repentant: “Over the last six months since your firing, have you done some soul searching? Have you done some self-reflection? And have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?”

And then there was the topper: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on, you carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”

How could Matt Lauer make these solemn pronouncements on national television with a straight face?

In a way he’s no different from Al Franken, or Harvey Weinstein, or Charlie Rose, or Bill Clinton, or Garrison Keillor or all those other liberals who publicly champion the rights of women at every opportunity while looking for every opportunity privately to torment them.  It is as if they believe they are on ethical high ground. They are allowed to exercise such predatory behavior because they publicly embrace feminism.

If you look for evidence of Matt Lauer slamming Bill Clinton for harassing Paula Jones or Kathleen Wiley, you won’t find it. Look for evidence of Lauer condemning Clinton for what he did with Monica Lewinsky. Good luck. What did he say instead? When Hillary blamed Lewinsky on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy – yes, on his show – Lauer should have immediately demanded that she provide the evidence to justify that extraordinary accusation. Instead he responded with this: "If what the President has told the nation is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you'd have to agree that this is the worst and most damaging smear of the twentieth century." 

What did he believe should be Clinton’s legacy? On May 23, 2000, this: “I hope that the American people would find it more exciting to talk about health care and Social Security and not about these personal peccadilloes.”

Even after his own network broke the explosive story of Clinton’s rape of Juanita Broaddrick, not even that could excite Matt Lauer. A comment here, a question there, and in no time flat the story was over. It’s how you treat peccadilloes.

But O’Reilly’s not a feminist. Neither is Donald Trump or Roy Moore. Nor were Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Larry Craig, or Bob Livingston.  It is why accusations against them have commanded saturation coverage and they have deserved unequivocal condemnation. They are not of the club.

L. Brent Bozell III is founder and president of the Media Research Center.