Network News Harassment: An Insider’s Perspective


The Matt Lauer story is not only saddening me, but also bothering me—so much so that I have decided I can’t ignore it any longer.

Besides, everyone has been calling, texting, and emailing me since the story broke – especially since just days after Charlie Rose lost his job, I started publicly pronouncing, “Matt Lauer is next.”

I had a feeling, and I was right. Whatever. Didn’t want to talk about it, and still don’t. Namely because I happen to like Matt Lauer and have enormous respect for his work, despite his personal flaws.

But it is, after all, one of the biggest nonpoliticalnews stories of the year and I really didn’t want to run a holiday travel post today when this elephant is in the room.

So…yesterday morning, I emailed Katie Couric.

In a carefully crafted note, fully aware of the sensitivities of this, I asked if she would comment in a 500-word post. I got what I expected: no (literally within minutes of my ask).

I then emailed Geraldo Rivera because I was fascinated by one particular Tweet he made on Wednesday (at press time-1.2K likes, and 7.6K comments):

“News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation.”

Having had a 10-year plus run on the Today Show as MSNBC’s Financial Analyst, and having additionally held on-air positions at CNBC, CBS, and Bloomberg News, I have worked with many of those currently making the news (as well as those who have thus far dodged bullets), and concur with Geraldo’s take: news is, in fact, a ‘flirty business.’

Flirting brought opportunity – especially for those we casually dubbed ‘Flavor of the Month,’ which referred to an attractive woman who caught the short-term attention (and affection) of someone in power. I say short-term because if this woman didn’t play up to this powerful person (or at the very least flirt back when he complimented you on your legs!), she was often replaced with the next ‘Flavor of the Month’ who typically looked eerily similar.

This person in power was either an influential anchor (They have the ultimate authority to put whomever they want on their shows.), an executive producer, or even the network president himself. And if you went along with the bullshit, you were on the fast track. Saying YES was the ultimate shortcut to the top in what is otherwise an incredibly competitive industry in which most wannabes fail.

The language was powerful, if not intimidating: “Do you have any idea how many people would give their right arm to be you .. to be on air?” “Any sense as to what a privilege it is to be on network TV?” “You’re not in Kansas, anymore.”

I remember the time when an executive – behind closed, locked doors – told me this: “I’m gonna make you a star! Let’s go to Jean-Georges to talk ‘strategy’”…

Another whatever…

Let’s just say that when a hot babe with minimal or no TV experience was suddenly on the air all the time, doing cut-ins, or given extraordinary responsibilities beyond booking talent, we knowingly rolled our eyes. “Who is she sleeping with!!?”

It was almost laughable then, and whatever “courtship” was going on behind closed doors between the powerful and the powerless certainly wasn’t seen as “criminal”…as it may very well be seen as today, as Geraldo’s controversial Tweet suggests.

I had hoped Geraldo would elaborate for today’s Guest NoPoST, but no dice.

Didn’t hear back from Ann Curry, either.

Last ditch attempt: I emailed a bunch of former interns who I thought might have something to say about their time at 30 Rock.

Nah Dah.

Finally, I got someone who I know has some insight, is qualified to do a Guest NoPost on this very subject, and is always available: me.

All I can really say is what I’ve just said .. going hush hush as I await at least 1, 2, 3 more network firings?

Will keep you in the NoPo…..

Thanks for insisting I do this  – Vera

Vera Gibbons is the Founder and Editor of  A former Financial Analyst with MSNBC, Vera appeared regularly on the Today Show.  She also worked as a Contributor at CBS The Early Show,  as a reporter for Bloomberg News, and as a Correspondent for CNBC’s High Net Worth.

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