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Everybody Must Get Stoned

November 29th, 2017

No Room for Manspreading on the Group W Bench

Matt Lauer is out! That was fast!

Without wasting time repeating the scant details of the story, I will go right into a discussion of the thought Lauer’s ejection brings to mind: news organizations are in trouble because they’re hypocritical. The hypocrites in the news attack everyone else ruthlessly (and, let’s admit it, joyfully), but they don’t report on themselves, and they work hard to cover up for employees who act up.

“Wait!”, you’re saying, “News organizations reported on O’Reilly and Rose when they fell!” Yes. Organizations O’Reilly and Rose didn’t work for! That doesn’t count. Venal, ambitious people love it when their competitors get in trouble, so naturally, news people report on scandals at competing companies. The don’t talk a whole lot about their own scandals, until they have no choice.

Sexual abusers and other bullies almost always have long histories. A normal guy generally won’t go nuts, put his hand up one secretary’s skirt, and then never do it again. Bullies are egotists who lack compassion, and they are driven by powerful urges they can’t or won’t resist. They become bullies at early ages, and their behavior persists for their entire lives. Over time, they develop long lists of victims, as well as long lists of silent witnesses. When a sex bully works for a company for a long time, people find out what he does, and they keep it quiet.

If Lauer was a sex bully, a lot of people at NBC knew it. They knew for decades. They worked for a news organization, so they knew what was happening was legitimate, important news. They chose not to report on it, just as Fox, CBS, and PBS chose not to report on O’Reilly and Rose. As a result, the perpetrators had free run of the hen houses, long after their proclivities were known.

There is no way to justify treating outsiders harshly while coddling and shielding guilty insiders. News is news, no matter where it occurs. If journalists knew anything about ethics, they would realize this, and we would hear about abusers from their own companies first.

If Matt Lauer had come up with a cure for cancer, NBC would have reported on it first. No doubt about it. News companies are happy to report positive news about insiders. They should report the negative things, too. They should be completely neutral and open as to the professional affiliations of the people they report on.

One of the things they teach lawyers is that we should present our clients’ negative information before the opposition gets a chance to do it (unless we can get courts to suppress it). When you get in front of your client’s faults and misdeeds and tell them to a finder of fact, you get the first shot at shaping the story. You get to present excuses and explanations. You make yourself and your client look honest. When you wait for the opposition to bring out the dirt, they get to twist things in the minds of the fact-finder, poisoning them against you and giving you a wall of disapproval you have to dismantle. And they make you look dishonest.

Scientists are taught that no one is objective. We are taught that experimental results have to be reproducible, so we don’t end up believing results that only occur in the laboratories of experimenters who want them to occur. We are taught to use double-blind studies.

As a lawyer and former scientist, I acknowledge the importance of fairness and objectivity, even if I am not particularly good at maintaining either. Journalists don’t care. They publish things that advance their preconceived agendas, not so they can inform, but so they can manipulate the public.

Journalists don’t care about ethics. Supposedly, journalistic ethics are codified, and journalists who go to journalism school study the subject, but in reality, that stuff is a joke. In practice, almost anything goes. If journalists had ethics, we wouldn’t have a left-wing news establishment that lies to us and covers up stories like the Menendez trial as a matter of policy. It could not happen. It has happened, so there is no need to explore the subject further. No reasonable person can look at the news and conclude that journalists try to be fair.

If journalists weren’t hypocrites, there would be no conservative or liberal news channels. MSNBC wouldn’t be liberal, and Fox wouldn’t be conservative. All channels would be neutral.

If journalists had ethics, the news would be very boring. Journalists would simply tell us what has happened. They wouldn’t sneer and smirk. They wouldn’t jab each other on Twitter. They wouldn’t scream and yell on TV panels. The news would be what NPR news pretends to be and isn’t. No one would watch or read it. Publishing news takes money, and that means an audience has to be attracted to look at ads. For that reason, among others, the news is a circus, and it attracts people who are entertaining, not people who are honest or intelligent. It attracts partisan squabblers. It’s also the reason most national-level female news people are exceptionally good-looking. Attractive news anchors who are borderline stupid tend to succeed in spite of their lack of brains.

There are a lot of female news anchors who couldn’t finish a crossword puzzle if the price of failure was death. Yet somehow we allow them to present and even interpret the news. Crazy.

Everyone who worked with Matt Lauer knew he was a problem, and everyone covered up. And in the aftermath, no one with any power or audience will say the networks need to start reporting on themselves. It will never happen. It would be Jerry Maguire behavior. Anyone who had reported on Lauer at NBC would have been congratulated, like Jerry Maguire in the memo scene, and then they would have been slowly eased out onto the sidewalk. Anyone who pushes self-examination now will get a warm clap on the back and a slow spiral into obscurity.

A while back, God told me this: “The concealment of a sin is worse than the sin itself.” That’s true. God forgives sin all the time. Heaven is packed with sinners. What he does not forgive is sin that has knowingly, persistently been denied. That principle works on earth as well as in God’s court. If Lauer and O’Reilly had come clean privately twenty years ago, they would still have their jobs today. Something would have been worked out. Instead, they denied and pretended, and the infection kept growing. Nobody squeezed the pustules. They just applied Clearasil until they exploded on prom night.

It amazes me that O’Reilly claims he executed settlements to protect his kids from scandal. Wouldn’t trials that exonerated him have protected them better? Of course they would. No one believes him. Trials would have confirmed many of the accusations. When he uses his kids as human shields, he’s just looking out for himself, badly.

Lauer must be huddled up with a whole platoon of handlers right now. They must be sweating bullets, trying to craft a statement. Al Franken and Kevin Spacey tried to make themselves look good in their responses to exposure, and they ended up buried under hails of contemptuous tweets from people whose intelligence had been insulted. Lauer and his team must be wondering what he can say that won’t backfire. I very much doubt he’s cloistered with his wife and a clergyman, confessing his heart out, repenting, and trying sincerely to find a path to redemption.

I really hope he doesn’t go the rehab route. Trying to convince people that sexual bullying is a disease that requires treatment is annoying, and apart from that, it’s trite. Harvey Weinstein and a slew of others wore that excuse out. Sexual predation isn’t opioid addiction. It just means you’re a jerk who enjoys humiliating other people and treating them like toilets. Sexual predation isn’t just sex. It’s driven by cruelty. Even when the acts themselves are not cruel, the victim mistreatment that follows exposure usually is. Ask Hillary Clinton.

I think about the guilty people who haven’t been outed, who will have to report on Lauer. I wonder if it will be possible to see the fear in their faces. They will be wondering if video of their reporting and commentary will be replayed when their turns come.

The iceberg is still there. Lauer is part of the tip. He’s not the train’s caboose. There is a nearly inexhaustible supply of candidates for exposure, like oil reserves sitting in the ground. It will take a very, very long time to go through our reserves.

I am ashamed of my own sexual sins. I hope they never end up in the public eye. I’m glad my sins aren’t worse. I hope God will continue helping me. I hope he will keep changing my heart so I indulge less in all types of sin.

Get ready to see more icons fall. I wonder what kind of people will replace them.

4 Responses to “Everybody Must Get Stoned”

  1. Electro Dude Says:

    And, speaking of NPR, this just showed up in the Buffalo News: “Garrison Keillor fired by Minneapolis Public Radio over allegations of inappropriate behavior”.

    Keillor’s explaination? “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

    http://buffalonews.com/2017/11/29/garrison-keillor-fired-by-minneapolis-public-radio-over-allegations-of-inappropriate-behavior/?utm_campaign=puma&utm_medium=social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1511982986

  2. Monty James Says:

    Well, now Minnesota Public Radio has fired that human Frank Frazetta painting, Garrison Keillor.

  3. Steve H. Says:

    They are now saying Lauer invited a subordinate to his office, showed her his genitals, and then scolded her for not playing along. And he sent people interesting phone photos. It wasn’t just flirting. In at least one case, he committed a sex crime.

    I wonder what the real story with Keillor is. He doesn’t have that sex fiend look, but then neither did Bill Cosby. He makes it sound like he touched a woman’s back briefly, by accident. That’s pretty much what you would expect someone to say if he were guilty. Or innocent. Who knows?

    If he’s a predator, other women will emerge. If they don’t arise, his defense will sound plausible.

  4. Monty James Says:

    I’ve seen a claim that Lauer’s desk had a button hidden under the desktop, that allowed him to lock the door to his office without him having to get up. If that’s true, and someone higher-up knew about it getting installed, I would guess that increases NBC’s liability a bunch, wouldn’t it?

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