The trickle has become a torrent. A growing list of celebrities, politicians, and journalists have seen their careers come to a crashing halt over allegations ranging from rape, to harassment, to unsolicited advances and inappropriate relationships.
Today comes the news that Matt Lauer, a 20 year veteran of NBC News and a fixture at the acclaimed Today Show, has been fired after executives heard accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior during coverage of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and beyond.
“”Today” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were emotional as they announced Lauer’s firing Wednesday, telling viewers at the top of the show that they were processing his departure but didn’t yet know all of the details.
In a memo to employees sent Wednesday morning, NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the complaint, which was made by a colleague of Lauer’s, prompted a serious review and represented a “clear violation of our company’s standards.”
Guthrie, who joined Lauer at the anchor desk in 2012, said she was “heartbroken” for both him and the “brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their stories to tell.”
“I’m sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come. And we promise we will share that with you,” she said.
Kotb added that she has known Lauer as a friend and colleague for 15 years and “it’s hard to reconcile what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day.”
Guthrie said it can be difficult to make sense of accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior against a longtime colleague.
“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected.””
At this time there has not been any public response from Lauer to the allegations. They could be completely true, completely false, or somewhere in between.
Employers obviously have the right to fire employees at will, and the severing of professional relationships do not require the same due process warranted in the legal realm.
But one wonders how healthy a growing societal movement is that grants accusers infallibility while alleged perpetrators are expected to prove innocence lest they be assumed guilty.
Imagine completely innocent people encountering such allegations. Would they stand a chance against a culture of mob rule and presumed guilt? Likely not.
The more sexual predators that face consequences for their actions, the better. However, punishing the guilty at the expense of the innocent is not an acceptable price to pay, despite the willingness of some ‘feminists’ to sacrifice innocent people so long as it achieves their ends.
If ‘all people should feel safe and respected in the workplace,’ should that not also apply to those at risk of false accusations?
More worrisome still; what other realms of society are at risk of following such a dangerous precedent?