Matt Lauer’s firing as “Today” Show host was shocking given the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, but an unasked question is how someone could so callously blow off a $25 million a year job by such reckless behavior.
There was something in Lauer’s head that led him to believe his conduct would be tolerated not only by his subjugated co-workers but by the corporation that employed him.
Certainly entitlement is one factor, but also corporate enablement through inaction and, in the end, his own psychological makeup played a role as well.
In announcing Lauer’s termination, NBC President Andrew Lack insisted that Lauer had never been the subject of a complaint in the 20 years he’d worked at the company.
But other employees disputed that claim. They told publications like Variety and The New York Times, that the company not only knew about it, but it was also an “open secret” among those who worked with him.
Since the firing, all kinds of video clips have surfaced that revealed snippets of his perverted personality. His leering interview with Anne Hathaway was particularly creepy.
But without context, the video clips were just brushed off as quirkiness or clumsy attempts to hype the interview.
In retrospect, they now look like glaring red flags.
Most research suggests that men more than women think about sex, sexual fantasies and feelings of sexual desire.
But men in positions of power seem to feel entitled to act out those fantasies in real life with women who are subordinate to them in the workplace.
Whether it’s Tiger Woods, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore or any number of moguls outed in the latest sex assault scandal, the pattern of abuse is similar.
And, new research shows a definite connection between sex and power.
It seems power increases the belief that subordinates are sexually attracted to them, according to the study, titled “Sexual Aggression When Power Is New: Effects of Acute High Power on Chronically Low-Power Individuals”
There’s an odd twist, however, about those who have recently been in the headlines. The moguls are in commanding positions, but allegations against them involve “crude, fumbling” that suggests psychological impotence, the study says.
Study authors Melissa Williams, Deborah Gruenfeld and Lucia Guillory argue that power is compensating for some inadequacy or psychological insecurity. Taking sexual advantage of someone is a way to compensate for those deficiencies.
Lauer’s obeisance to some women–like co-host Savannah Guthrie, whom he likely sees as an equal–while preying on others, strongly suggests he fits that mold.
He may have been trying to compensate for his emasculation at the hands of strong women–perhaps his mother, wife or co-workers.
One thing is clear, he picked his victims carefully, which is a sign of sociopathic or psychopathic behavior.
On Thursday night’s “Late Night,” show, Seth Meyers cataloged some of the allegations.
Most telling, Meyers zeroed in on Lauer’s interview with disgraced Fox News talking head Bill O’Reilly, who also was fired for alleged sexual harassment.
“He was talking to Bill O’Reilly, but he could have just as easily been talking to a mirror,” Meyers said.
Meyers also noted Lauer’s delight in sizing up female co-workers by playing the game “fuck, marry or kill” in the office.
“I don’t know who you said you’d marry in those conversations, but I do know that you killed your career, and you fucked yourself.”
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