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Matt Lauer firing protects NBC's biggest news moneymaker

Wednesday - 29/11/2017 14:24
A deeper dive into the day's most important stories
Matt Lauer, host of The Today Show, was fired by NBC Wednesday over allegations of 'inappropriate sexual behaviour.'
Matt Lauer, host of The Today Show, was fired by NBC Wednesday over allegations of 'inappropriate sexual behaviour.'

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Did things just get real in America?

For the past 23 years, millions of Americans have been waking up in the morning and looking to Matt Lauer to explain the day's events to them. Now, he is the news.

Early this morning, Lauer's Today Show co-hosts announced that he had been summarily fired by NBC News over allegations of "inappropriate sexual behaviour" in the workplace.

Lauer's Today contract, reportedly worth $20 million US a year, was renewed in Nov. 2016 and runs through the end of next year. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)
Lauer's Today contract, reportedly worth $20 million US a year, was renewed in Nov. 2016 and runs through the end of next year. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

"While it is the first complaint about his behaviour in the over 20 years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," says a statement released by NBC News Chairman Andy Lack.

Lauer, of course, isn't the first prominent figure to be caught up in the ever-advancing scandal over sexual assaults, abuse and predatory behaviour by powerful men. But he is arguably the biggest name so far.

The 59-year-old is a household presence in the United States, having anchored coverage of news events like the 9/11 attacks. It seems like his other high-profile role — hosting NBC's live Olympic broadcasts — was the source of his downfall, with several reports pointing to an incident at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

Although it's not yet clear when NBC first became aware of the allegations, it seems that multiple media outlets have been investigating the long-married Lauer's past behaviour, including the New York Times and Variety. His Today contract, reportedly worth $20 million US a year, was renewed in Nov. 2016, and runs through the end of next year.

Lauer, seen here in October with journalist Megyn Kelly, has not responded publicly to NBC's statement about his firing. (Nathan Congleton/NBC/Getty Images)It's tempting to see this as a watershed moment. But Lauer isn't even the first morning show host to fall.
Lauer, seen here in October with journalist Megyn Kelly, has not responded publicly to NBC's statement about his firing. (Nathan Congleton/NBC/Getty Images)It's tempting to see this as a watershed moment. But Lauer isn't even the first morning show host to fall.

Charlie Rose, his 75-year-old compatriot at CBS This Morning, was fired just over a week agoafter more than a dozen women came forward to accuse him of lewd behaviour and inappropriate advances. And Lauer's one time co-host, Billy Bushlost his Today Show spot in October 2016 after a tape surfaced of him and now President Donald Trump engaging in crude sexual banter.

Still, the Today Show is a big deal for NBC. It's No. 2 in overall morning viewers, and the runaway leader among the key age 22-to-54 advertising demographic. And consequently, it makes a lot of money for the network: $497 million US a year, according to this 2015 estimate, and three times as much as the NBC Nightly News.

With women making up more than 60 per cent of U.S. morning show audiences, forgiveness may never have been an option.

Lauer's abrupt departure may or may not change the way middle America views the sexual assault scandal. But one accused abuser thinks he can harness it to his advantage:

Read More (...)

Source: CBC News:

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