When News Anchors Become the Story

Wednesday morning (Nov. 29) the world woke to the news that Today co-host Matt Lauer was fired due to alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Lauer is the second prominent TV journalist in the past week to lose his job in the wake of alleged inappropriate behavior with female colleagues. Lauer's firing follows Charlie Rose's dismissal from CBS This Morning; PBS also dropped Rose's long-running interview series.

Update: Lauer Apologizes

Rose and Lauer are marquee names within the TV news business, and the allegations have the potential of chipping away at the credibility of the voices that deliver the daily news. What if Lauer and Rose represent just the tip of the iceberg among the national and local anchors, producers and execs the public counts on for TV news?

If the near daily allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault that have emerged in the entertainment industry since the Harvey Weinstein story broke prove a harbinger of things to come in TV news, will viewer trust in the media — already under siege by President Trump’s cries of “fake news” — become part of the fallout?

By all accounts so far, the news organizations at NBC, CBS and PBS each reacted to the allegations against their anchors swiftly, and made clear their support of the women who brought the complaints. That level of response could be essential to maintaining the public's trust through what could be a rocky time to come in TV news.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.