NBC's Guthrie Hails Lena Dunham 'Giving Voice to the Voiceless' With Unraveled Rape Story

In a fawning interview with actress Lena Dunham on Wednesday's NBC Today to promote the latest season of HBO's Girls, co-host Savannah Guthrie sympathized with the feminist activist over people doubting an allegation in her memoir of being sexually assaulted by a "campus Republican" in college – a claim which has been disproved on several of the key details.   

Rather than press Dunham on her highly disputed story, Guthrie instead lobbed this softball: "And the reaction to that, in the media and in the public world was strange. In some ways – some places you were discredited, in some places – or attempted to be discredited – in some places doubted. How did that feel for you, to kind of go through that on this big stage?"

Dunham responded: "It's a very, very painful thing to share an episode that personal and receive criticism, but what I received was only a small percentage of the doubt and victim blaming that most women who are sexually assaulted in this country experience....I really feel like it enhanced my understanding of the cause and hopefully will make me a better advocate and activist in the future."

Guthrie proclaimed: "And giving voice to those who might have been voiceless."

At no point did Guthrie mention that Dunham's publisher Random House issued a public apology regarding the questionable rape accusation:

As indicated on the copyright page of Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, some names and identifying details in the book have been changed. The name 'Barry' referenced in the book is a pseudonym. Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion that has led attorney Aaron Minc to post on GoFundMe on behalf of his client, whose first name is Barry.

Like Guthrie, CNN host Carol Costello similarly ran to Dunham's defense. On December 11, Costello declared that criticism of Dunham's faulty account signified an "ugly turn" in the debate over sexual assault on college campuses.  

To supposed journalists like Guthrie and Costello, warranted skepticism of a serious criminal accusation is "strange" and "ugly."

On Today, Guthrie went on to plead with Dunham for a guest spot on Girls: "You have a lot of great guest stars on Girls this season. And as for the yet unwritten role of responsible big sister or girl five, I want you to know that I am still available."

Guthrie made the same request during a 2014 interview with Dunham and confessed that she was a "huge fan" of the show.

During Wednesday's exchange, Dunham thanked Guthrie: "You've been so supportive and we all love you."

Here is a transcript of the January 7 segment:

8:23 AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I was thinking about you because we've been talking all these years now and we're in the fourth season of Girls.

LENA DUNHAM: And you've been so supportive and we all love you.

GUTHRIE: And I, as you know, I'm obsessed with all of you. When you first started, you weren't household names.

DUNHAM: Yeah.

GUTHRIE: What has this journey been like for you? I mean, everything you do is scrutinized, every tweet, every Instagram.

DUNHAM: You know, it definitely took a moment to get used to the idea that anyone was paying attention. I was so used to making my sort of weird videos and prose poems in a bubble. I was just, you know, like a weirdo college girl wearing neon leggings and doing my thing. And so, it definitely took a moment, longer than a moment, to adjust to the idea that what I said had any kind of impact. And so, I think all of us girls on the show have really tried to find a way to channel our voices into causes and issues and projects that matter to us so that we can make the attention matter and count. And that's been the most important thing.

GUTHRIE: And there are kind of two sides of that. I'm thinking about your memoir. You recently wrote a memoir of your life. One of the things you talked about was a difficult episode that happened in your life, where you talk about being sexually assaulted.

DUNHAM: Yeah.

GUTHRIE: And the reaction to that, in the media and in the public world was strange. In some ways – some places you were discredited, in some places – or attempted to be discredited – in some places doubted. How did that feel for you, to kind of go through that on this big stage?

DUNHAM: It's a very, very painful thing to share an episode that personal and receive criticism, but what I received was only a small percentage of the doubt and victim blaming that most women who are sexually assaulted in this country experience. You know, I am a celebrity with a platform and a lot of incredible support. Most women who come forward with accusations of sexual assault don't have those benefits, don't have my legal and emotional and financial supports. And so for me, I really feel like it enhanced my understanding of the cause and hopefully will make me a better advocate and activist in the future.

GUTHRIE: And giving voice to those who might have been voiceless.

Let's end on a happy note. You have a lot of great guest stars on Girls this season.  

DUNHAM: Yes, we do.

GUTHRIE: And as for the yet unwritten role of responsible big sister or girl five, I want you to know that I am still available.

DUNHAM: Well, you know, maybe we just shoot some green screen stuff and stick it in the season finale?

GUTHRIE: You're always stalling, Lena. You're always stalling. The Girls premiere Sunday night.

DUNHAM: You're really busy.

GUTHRIE: I'm not that busy.

Liberals & Democrats Sexuality Feminism NBC Today Video Savannah Guthrie Lena Dunham

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