In covering the shocking firing of NBC's Today co-host Matt Lauer over sexual harassment allegations, the New York Times chose to focus on the shocking results of campaign 2016 and the loss of their favored candidate Hillary Clinton. After two decades of Lauer’s liberal bias (and hypocritical criticism of alleged sexual harassment by Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly), The Times could only see how Lauer supposedly treated Hillary Clinton in unfair, biased, and sexist fashion during a September 2016 presidential forum featuring her and Donald Trump -- by actually conducting a tough journalistic interview with the candidate.
Virtually every Lauer story has a mention of the controversy, which was actually only controversial at The Times and in the rest of the Clinton-cheering mainstream media, even though both Clinton and Trump got tough questions from Lauer.
Thursday's front page featured “Longtime Face of NBC’s ‘Today” Is Fired as Complaints Multiply,” including this sour-grapes paragraph:
Besides his “Today” perch, Mr. Lauer was a genial co-host of events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the Winter and Summer Olympics, and he conducted countless interviews with celebrities. He also contributed to NBC News’s political coverage, although he was widely panned after a debate last year in which he appeared to go easy on Mr. Trump while asking aggressive questions of Hillary Clinton.
“Widely panned” among left-wing journalists, anyway.
Matthew Haag’s rundown of Lauer’s “Two Decades of Highs and Low,” edited down in the Thursday print edition, included this:
Mr. Lauer was the host of one of the major presidential forums in 2016 between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. During the one-hour debate, Mr. Lauer interviewed the candidates separately, and he was criticized for asking Mr. Trump softer questions while he spent considerable time pressing Ms. Clinton about her use of a private email server, and interrupting her repeatedly.
“Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event,” The Times wrote afterward.
Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin repeated the tiresome whine on the front of Thursday’s Business Day.
NBC’s news division has weathered a series of contentious episodes dating back to last year’s presidential race. After a live forum of the presidential candidates in September hosted by Mr. Lauer, he received poor reviews for his handling of Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, with critics arguing that he questioned Mrs. Clinton aggressively and interrupted her repeatedly while giving Mr. Trump friendlier treatment.
A photo caption accompanying the report read: “Matt Lauer received poor reviews for his treatment of Hillary Clinton during a forum of presidential candidates in September 2016.”
On Friday, the paper’s “gender editor” Jessica Bennett used Lauer to plug her newsletter and again forward the idea of Hillary Clinton (who sicced the dogs on her husband’s sex accusers while in the White House) as a victim of sexism: “A Newsletter for the #MeToo World.”
Since news broke yesterday of Matt Lauer’s firing -- the latest in an ever-growing list of powerful men facing consequences for alleged sexual misconduct at work -- I‘ve been having a repeated flashback: Mr. Lauer as moderator of a 2016 presidential forum, interrupting Hillary Rodham Clinton as she tried to lay out her plan to defeat the Islamic State. (She needed to speak quickly, he reminded her, as they were running out of time.)
Now that interruption seems far more meaningful. In the remarkable moment we are witnessing, it is a reminder of how men like Matt Lauer -- and Charlie Rose and Mark Halperin and Leon Wieseltier, and now Garrison Keillor, the public radio host fired just hours after Mr. Lauer -- shaped our view of politics and world events, our very cultural narratives. And all of them now stand accused of sexual harassment, or assault, or both. (Mr. Lauer apologized Thursday morning, expressing “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused.”)
Also on Friday, Hillary fan Katie Rogers filed “The Toll of Gatekeepers Who Behave Badly”:
How much did the abuse of women -- often younger, subordinate or not famous -- by powerful male journalists factor into the stories they told us? What did we learn about power, politics, accountability, elections -- or even about Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential candidate from a major party?
But one episode from the 2016 election cycle has been held up as a stark example, raising yet another question: What did the public internalize about Mrs. Clinton when Mr. Lauer, a journalist best known for behaving like a fatherly scamp for NBC’s “Today” program, interrupted her at a presidential forum to tell her to be brief while explaining a policy decision?
In the interview, which was widely panned at the time, Mr. Lauer extensively questioned Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, about her use of a private email server. He failed to aggressively press Donald J. Trump, then the Republican nominee, about his policy views or challenge him on falsehoods. Mrs. Clinton addressed the interview in her book, “What Happened,” calling Mr. Lauer’s interview “a pointless ambush.”
Mrs. Clinton also took issue with Mr. Lauer’s handling of Mr. Trump: “You’ve had a very different background, in business,” Mr. Lauer told Mr. Trump as he prefaced a question. “So nobody would expect you to have taken over the last 20 years really deep dives into some of these issues.”
But that interview reads differently to many now, as do Mr. Lauer’s other on-camera interactions with powerful women that seemed garden-variety sexist or purely boneheaded at the time. In 2014, Mr. Lauer, a father of three, asked Mary Barra, the first female chief executive of General Motors and at the time a mother of two teenagers, if she could do both jobs well. In 2012, he remarked to the actress Anne Hathaway that viewers had “seen a lot of you lately” after a photographer had crouched down to take a picture up her skirt.
The Times was so aggrieved they even put together a clip showing Lauer’s metaphorical assault on Hillary Clinton (aka journalism).