More Lauer: This Is What NBC's Indifference Abetted

[Content Note: Description of sexual assault.]

As further details emerge about Matt Lauer's long reign of consequence-free sexual abuse of his female colleagues, and it becomes abundantly clear that NBC management had to have known, the picture of what the network's indiffernce abetted is coming into clear focus — and it is utterly grotesque.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] At the New York Times, Ellen Gabler, Jim Rutenberg, Michael M. Grynbaum, and Rachel Abrams report on new allegations against Lauer, which include a harrowing account from an anonymous former colleague, who describes being sexually assaulted by Lauer in his office until she fainted and needed medical attention.
The woman who described the encounter in 2001 with Mr. Lauer in his office told The Times that the anchor had made inappropriate comments to her shortly after she started as a "Today" producer in the late 1990s.

While traveling with Mr. Lauer for a story, she said, he asked her inappropriate questions over dinner, like whether she had ever cheated on her husband. On the way to the airport, she said, Mr. Lauer sat uncomfortably close to her in the car; she recalled that when she moved away, he said, "You're no fun."

In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, she said, he locked the door, which he could do by pressing a button while sitting at his desk. (People who worked at NBC said the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees.)

The woman said Mr. Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She said the anchor then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair, and had intercourse [sic] with her. At some point, she said, she passed out with her pants pulled halfway down. She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.

The woman told The Times that Mr. Lauer never made an advance toward her again and never mentioned what occurred in his office. She said she did not report the episode to NBC at the time because she believed she should have done more to stop Mr. Lauer. She left the network about a year later.
I am so fucking sad and angry that Lauer did this to her. I believe her, and I take up space in solidarity with her.

A couple things about this account:

First of all, he did not "have intercourse with her." He raped her in his locked office.

Secondly, note the pattern of escalation (which tracks with what I described yesterday): He started with "inappropriate comments," then moved to invading her space/unwanted touching, then to cornering and assaulting her.

Finally, I don't know if NBC's claim that "the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees" is true or if it's bullshit spin. Either way, it's reprehensible that no one in management considered how that button could be used by high-profile employees to harm the employees over whom they wielded enormous power. At best, the installation of such buttons was an aggressively irresponsible decision.

And at worst, they knew exactly how it was being used by Lauer and just didn't care. Anything to keep their $20 million man happy.

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