News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Lauer Down, Twitter Trouble and Much, Much More

File Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx201210/15/12Matt Lauer at the 11th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's An Enduring Vision Gala.(NYC)

Good Thursday morning!

Here is what’s on the president’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will meet with the Crown Prince of Bahrain.
  • In the evening, the president and first lady Melania Trump will depart the White House en route to the Ellipse to take part in lighting the National Christmas Tree.
  • The president will then depart the Ellipse en route to the White House.

[Alleged] sexual harassment continues to dominate the headlines

Shortly after The Morning Briefing was published yesterday, news broke that “Today” show host Matt Lauer was fired.

“We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks,” said co-host Savannah Guthrie. “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected.”

Ann Curry, a former co-host was also shocked by the revelations. Do you believe that other NBC employees did not know what was going on? It seems like Lauer’s “problem” was another case of “it’s an open secret.” Over at Law & Crime, Rachel Stockman explains that NBC chairman Andy Lack’s statement about Lauer doesn’t add up.

Despite insiders saying Lauer’s behavior was well-known inside 30 Rock, Lack claims management/executives never got a complaint. Never. Not once in 20 years. By the way, that’s the same thing O’Reilly claims about his HR record at Fox News. But, here’s the thing, there are now multiple reports out that management was notified.

And what about the rape button Lauer had installed in his office? Matt Lauer had a button installed under his desk that would allow him to lock his office door without getting up or revealing to his potential [alleged] victim they were being locked inside a sexual assault dungeon. What.the.hell?!? Who installed this device?

Geraldo Rivera got his ass handed to him after coming to Lauer’s defense. “News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of [sex harassment allegations] may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation,” Geraldo tweeted. A flirty business? Was the rape button just “flirty business”?

Among other “famous” people in the headlines for [alleged] harassment is Garrison Keillor of National Public Radio.

“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,” Keillor told the newspaper in an email. “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.”

And NPR has fired a second employee for [alleged] impropriety.

NPR chief news editor David Sweeney left the company following allegations leveled by three female journalists, NPR reported.

Sweeney recently found himself on leave after NPR editor Lauren Hodges said he acted inappropriately by giving her unwanted attention and presents. Allegations were also raised by two former journalists who spoke on the condition of anonymity, according to NPR. A former producer claimed Sweeney unexpectedly kissed her in 2002. Another journalist alleged that Sweeney tried to kiss her in 2007.

Over on Capitol Hill, we learned that Rep. John Conyers, alleged sexual harasser, will not run for reelection in 2018. He’s 88 and probably should have been out of office a long time ago. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) left a meeting on congressional sexual harassment because “I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real.” CNN has fired a producer from State of the Union: “A comprehensive investigation was conducted as soon as this matter was brought to our attention,” a spokesperson for CNN said in a statement. “The behavior attributed to Mr. Davis does not align with the standards and values of CNN,” said the statement.

Moving along to Hollywood, actress Heather Graham will turn her alleged harassment ordeal with Harvey Weinstein into a movie. Actor Geoffrey Rush denies accusations of inappropriate behavior during a production of “King Lear.”

Trump got into some Twitter trouble

Apparently, President Trump retweeted some anti-Muslim videos from a right-wing British account.

The videos, posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right and ultra-nationalist political group, depict purported Muslims assaulting people and, in one video, smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Spokesperson Sarah Sanders defended the president’s tweets.

“I think his goal is to promote strong borders and strong national security,” Sanders told a small group of reporters after appearing on Fox News.

Sanders also downplayed questions about whether the videos were authentic, because “the threat is real.”

“That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on, is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it,” she said.

The folks across the pond were not happy about Trump’s retweets.

Historical picture of the day:

Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, left to right, laugh during a recording session at Sinatra’s Reprise Record Co. in California, Nov. 30, 1965. (AP Photo)

Other morsels:

Another Alabama poll shows Roy Moore surging back into the lead

U.S. lawmaker says House intel panel near consensus on NSA spy program

MSNBC’s Joy Reid gets smacked down by Jane Sanders

Conway to lead White House opioid effort

Retail workers say holiday music is emotionally damaging: study

Jared Kushner interviewed by special counsel’s office

Venezuela protesters beaten, sexually abused, human rights group says

Obama joins Kimmel during charity late-night special

Harvard researchers say more than half of US children will be obese by age 35

Glitch has American looking for pilots for holiday flights

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!