The Transom, Ben Domenech, November 29, 2017

NBC gets out ahead of what everyone (not everyone, but anyone who hears media gossip) had been hearing for weeks: that the next major personality to get the boot over inappropriate behavior was going to be the highest paid on-air personality at 30 Rock: Matt Lauer. He has now been fired from NBC News after a single complaint about ‘inappropriate sexual behavior’.  “The “Today” show is one of the most popular and most profitable franchises on American television. Lauer was the cornerstone of the program for two decades. So his sudden ouster came as a shock to viewers — but not as a complete surprise to his “Today” show colleagues. They knew that multiple news outlets were investigating Lauer’s off-camera conduct.

“NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in an early morning memo to staff that the complaint was filed on Monday night. Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his career at the network. But he also said “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

The nature of the complaint? Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a staffer during the Sochi Olympics.  “Matt Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a female NBC staffer during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, sources told Page Six. An NBC insider said Lauer’s alleged victim complained to HR on Monday: “This happened so quickly. She didn’t go to the media, she made a complaint to NBC’s human resources, and her evidence was so compelling that Matt was fired on Tuesday night. The victim says she has evidence that this has also happened to other women, but so far we don’t have evidence of that.”

Lauer is without question the most prominent media personality to be axed in the current tide of sexual harassment complaints. He has been the most consistent part of the institution of the Today Show for decades, and he has also been known within media circles as a cad or a skirt-chaser for all those years. But there is a difference between being a cad and being someone who assaults women, gropes them, or behaves like someone who would rather skip the chase and go straight to the sex.

Within the world of media and politics, this tide is catching a number of prominent figures – most of them, thus far, on the Democratic side of the aisle, where yesterday Black Caucus members pressed John Conyers, longest serving member of the House, to resign.  “A group of Democrats including members of the Congressional Black Caucus is privately urging Rep. John Conyers to resign after a third former staffer went public with allegations of sexual harassment against the longtime Michigan Democrat, according to congressional sources.

“Members of the CBC are pressing Conyers to step down after 53 years in office, telling him that fellow Democrats are expected to come out and publicly demand he resign. Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have already done so, and additional Democratic lawmakers were expected to join them as the House returned from the weeklong Thanksgiving break on Tuesday night.”

Democrats and liberals in the media have been insulated from criticism in this arena for a long time largely because they do not get the same “family values hypocrisy” frame as Republicans do – but apparently this is no longer enough. This indicates we are still at the beginning of this tidal wave, not the end, and there are more heads to be chopped.