Matt Lauer, Kellyanne Conway, Arianna Huffington: Broadsheet for Nov. 30
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! More of the Matt Lauer story emerges, Arianna Huffington raises millions for her startup, and Kellyanne Conway has a new responsibility. Enjoy your Thursday.
• The last of Lauer. For the last 24 hours, it’s been difficult to think about anything other than Matt Lauer. The news that the now-ex Today anchor been fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior” broke early yesterday morning and the horrific allegations (or at least the first wave of them) appeared in the afternoon, when Variety published the story it been chasing for two months.
There are a lot of stomach-turning details in the story, but perhaps the most striking is the revelation that Lauer had “a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up.” He used it to “welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him.” I’m struggling to think of a more blatant red flag for NBC execs that something was very, very wrong here. Something tells me that we’ll soon see more stories about what the network chose to ignore.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen glimpses of Lauer’s issues with women, as pointed out by our colleagues at Time. They sometimes surfaced in interviews—as when he asked GM CEO Mary Barra if it was possible for her to run the automaker and be a good mom at the same time, or when, in the presidential forum he hosted in 2016, he grilled and repeatedly interrupted candidate Hillary Clinton, while going easy on candidate Donald Trump. In other instances, he went so far as to derail women’s careers; Lauer was reportedly the driving force that pushed Ann Curry off the show in 2012.
Is there a bright side to this? Maybe not, but there was something important to seeing Lauer’s former co-anchor Savannah Guthrie appear on Today yesterday with Hoda Kotb at her side—in other words, an all-female anchor team. And, as Lily Herman pointed out in Refinery29, turn the channel and you’ll find Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who haven’t missed a step on CBS This Morning since the ouster of former co-host Charlie Rose. There’s been some gallows humor at Fortune about how, at this rate, journalism will soon be an all-female profession. It’s a joke, of course, but the reality is that the current upheaval will open new doors for women. Let’s make sure they stay that way.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• News from Lake Wobegon. Lauer was not the only famous media man to lose his job yesterday. Garrison Keillor, author and creator of Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, was fired by the network Wednesday over “allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.” In a statement, Keillor responded, “I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version M.P.R. heard. Most stories are.” New York Times
• And one more: Earlier this week NPR chief news editor David Sweeney left the company following allegations of sexual harassment filed against him by at least three female journalists. NPR
• Kelly on top. With Lauer out, Megyn Kelly is now not only the highest-paid female TV anchor (she makes $18 million per year), but also reportedly makes more than any on-air talent at NBC. Fortune
• Anonymous victims. With so much focus on the sexual harassment charges against famous, powerful men in media, entertainment, and politics, Fortune‘s Ellen McGirt issues a reminder that many of the worst abuses actually occur in low-wage professions, where women are far less likely to be able to speak up and bring their assailants to justice. Indeed, a recent report from the Center for American Progress—which looked a decade’s worth of data—found that more than one-quarter of sexual harassment charges were filed in industries with large numbers of service-sector workers and that nearly three-quarters of those charges included an allegation of retaliation. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Barri Rafferty has been promoted to CEO of Ketchum. Refinery29 announced the appointment of Sarah Personette to COO. Personette most recently served as Facebook VP, Global Business Marketing. Shake Shack has named Popsugar CMO Anna Fieler to its board. RYOT CMO Molly DeWolf Swenson is stepping down from her role and joining 3Rodeo as a Venture Partner.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Drug czar Conway. AG Jeff Sessions announced that Kellyanne Conway has been tasked with overseeing all White House initiatives to combat opioid abuse. Washington Post
• Thrive thrives. Arianna Huffington’s sleep-focused startup, Thrive Global, has raised a $30 million Series B, reportedly bringing the company’s valuation to $120 million. Recode
• A scandalous title. After Monica Lewinsky publicly complained about the title of an upcoming HLN documentary—The Monica Lewinsky Scandal—the network gave the series a new, less victim-blame-y name: How it Really Happened. Washington Post
ON MY RADAR
An “it” flower for a feminist moment New York Times
How this fintech startup is targeting shoppers with high-interest loans—and what that means for women Racked
Food media is dominated by women. So why aren’t we writing about female chefs? Esquire
Parents now spend twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago—except in France Economist