As news broke Wednesday morning of Matt Lauer being fired by NBC News over accusations of sexual harassment by a colleague, it brought to mind a September interview in which he grilled former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly about being fired for similar allegations.
Amazingly, Lauer actually asked: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on, you carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”
After O’Reilly dismissed that logic, Lauer followed up: “But you don’t let your number one guy go unless you have information that you think makes him – ” O’Reilly cut him off. Lauer pressed: “Did you ever send lewd texts or emails to another employee at Fox News?...Did you ever have any human resources cases brought against you?”
After Lauer questioned him about Fox reaching sexual harassment lawsuits with several women who accused the cable news host of wrongdoing, O’Reilly pushed back by pointing out: “Every company in this country, including this one, Comcast, has these lawsuits, every one.”
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Perhaps even more astonishing was the moment Lauer sympathized with O’Reilly’s accusers and lectured:
But think about those five women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been. Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?
One now wonders what Lauer’s answer would to his own question.
He wrapped up the September 19 exchange by asking O’Reilly: “Over the last six months since you’re firing, have you done some soul searching? Have you done some self reflection? And have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?”
Again, all good questions for Lauer to now be asking himself.