Saturday, April 7, 2018

NBC Handles Misconduct Involving Today Show Host Matt Lauer (2017)

NBC has a long history with Matt Lauer, he was involved in many different shows on the network including The Morning Show, The Macy’s Day Parade, and many other notable shows. He had a long career as a television host and News Anchor for NBC. It began in 1992 when he signed with the company that came to an abrupt end in November 2017.  He was fired from NBC News after a colleague filed a complaint about his inappropriate sexual behavior.

The Cast of the Today show including Lauer in the Middle
Matt Lauer was at the top of his career when these allegations occurred. The accusations against Matt Lauer dated back many years before they ever came to light this last November.  According to CBS News, Lauer was involved in the inappropriate sexual behavior from early on in his years with the company.  As Lauer moved up within NBC he is accused of continuing the harassment with nothing to stop him, even the beginning of his family.  Three separate women on three separate occasions have accused Matt Lauer of sexual harassment.  Everything came crumbling down for Lauer when one woman decided to step out of the darkness. NBC has had multiple allegations and terminations of its employees since Lauer was fired for his misconduct.  One example, is NBC News ending the employment of its senior political analyst Mark Halperin after multiple reports surfaced that he sexually harassed at least a dozen women while serving as political director for ABC News.

NBC is a leader in the television industries leading other popular networks like ABC and CBS. NBC was founded in 1941 and has grown into a massive player in the television industry. They are responsible for shows like the Today Show and also the coverage of sporting events like the Olympics and they Super Bowl. Averaging 9.56 million viewers a week NBC has lead the viewer category for many years with the Today Show pulling in a large number of those viewers. When the story about Lauer came to light it shook the Network and actions were taken to quickly resolve it. In all the four main theories of Individualism, Utilitarianism, Kantian, and Virtue NBC had to act in the most ethical way possible. 

A stakeholder is someone that is directly affected by the actions of the business. With over 2.7 million viewers there are a lot of stakeholders that are affected by this. In this case the stakeholders in this controversy are a wide range of people. One of the major stakeholders are the people that work at NBC. This includes hosts, producers, writers, the viewers, Matt Lauer himself, and the women that were involved in the misconduct. This was something that happened behind the scene, but came into view when one woman decided to stand up, giving more women the confidence to stand up to the people that were preforming any acts of sexual misconduct. There where many stakeholders that arose from this and are effected because of it. With over ten thousand employees there was a large portion of the stakeholders as well. If the company loses viewers then it will make cuts to the employees.
NBC Logo

Friedman’s theory of individualism states “business actions should maximize profits for the owners of the business, but do so within the law.” In this situation it can be determined that if the company wanted to make money by not losing viewers and sponsors it was important to remove the person that broke company policies by being involved in misconduct. The company realized that this misconduct was harmful to the company’s reputation. The Today show, hosted by Matt Lauer, had to insure that company policies were followed and the profits from viewers and sponsors was not lost the company dealt with Lauer in order to uphold its good standing with the public. An individualist would take the side of NBC. The reason for this is because the best way for the company to make money is to maintain viewers and have people watching there shows. If a situation like this hurt viewers and caused people to stop watching it then they would say the company handled the situation correctly. NBC did what they needed to do and they did it within the laws. Lauer was dismissed for violating the conduct of the company. An Individualist would agree with how NBC handled this because it would certainly insure that they maintained their viewership. 

The utilitarian view likes to take into consideration the stakeholders and wants to make sure that they are satisfied in all aspects. In order to satisfy the stakeholders every party needs to be considered and looked at for every situation that occurs. In the case of NBC the major stakeholders were the other hosts, writers, viewers, and people in various positions that are involved with NBC.  NBC needed to be sure that these people were taken care of first because they had the biggest stake in the current standing of the company and its future. If they did not satisfy the stakeholders by “doing the right thing” of removing Lauer from his position for his misconduct it could have created an uncomfortable, unsafe, and negative environment and look for NBC. A Utilitarian would think that NBC did in fact take into consideration the well being of the stakeholders. In this case the biggest stakeholders where the women that were effected by this and told their story. Their identities were kept private and Lauers' misconduct was addressed quickly. Lauer was fired just a day after the women came out about it. The Utilitarian would also agree with this because it allowed for the stakeholders, such as the women and other employees to feel as though there is a safe work environment and want to continue to work at the company. This also insured that viewers were not lost so that the company would not have to face any budget cuts or remove any employees because of the lose of viewers. This would make the Utilitarian happy. A Utilitarian might feel as the major stakeholder in Lauer was treated unfair do to his quick dismissal which effects his well being and cost him his job. The majority of the stakeholders would be satisfied with NBC's decision which in conclusion would make a Utilitarian satisfied. 

Kantian theory is something that is different from utilitarian theories. Kant states “one should always act in ways that respect and honor individuals and their choices.” In the case of NBC, Lauer did not act respectful or with honor his choices. According to NBC news he made poor decisions on the misconduct for many years before the allegations came to light. With continued bad decision and misconduct it would eventually lead to NBC ending their contract with Lauer. With continued allegations and misconduct Lauer did not follow Kant in any way. Lauer eventually confessed to his actions and was held accountable for what he did. NBC also respected Lauer by not going into more details then was needed and saying that what he did was a clear violation of the companies polices. They also respected the honor of the accusers by keeping their names anonymous and not giving details on what was said or who said it. A Kantian could also look at this from the side of NBC or the women. NBC respected and honored the women and their chooses to come out about the misconduct by removing Lauer from their company. NBC did what was needed to insure that their stakeholders were taken into consideration and their honor and dignity was not overlooked. NBC did what was needed to insure this. 
Headline from a local NBC station regarding Lauer

The virtue theory was created by Greek philosopher Aristotle. The theory states that someone is fulling there position or potential by way of a person’s characteristics. These four characteristics, courage, honesty, temperance and justice. Someone that follows the virtue theory might that the women that had the courage in coming out and speaking up about happened to them. They were honest and open in what he did leading to the company being honest about how they handled it the situation. They might also say that justice was served to Lauer and he was given what he deserved not only by the breaking of company policy as well as breaking several laws. The company is also a major player in it because of how they dealt with this. They sought out justice for the women that were involved and also courage for firing a one of their man television anchors that has been such a big part of the company. He was in violation of the rules and they did what was necessary of them. In conclusion someone that believes in virtue would say the misconduct was handled well by everyone involved. 

Works Cited
  1. Haag, Matthew. “Matt Lauer's History at 'Today': Two Decades of Highs and Lows.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Nov.
  1. “Katie Couric Recalls 'Gross' Sexism at Work.” Us Weekly, 2 Mar. 2018,
  1. “Matt Lauer.”, A&E Networks Television, 1 Dec.
  1. News, CBS. “Ann Curry ‘Not Surprised’ by Matt Lauer Allegations, Says Verbal Harassment Was Pervasive at NBC.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 17 Jan.
  1. Ortiz, Erik, and Corky Siemaszko. “NBC News Fires Matt Lauer after Sexual Misconduct Review.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 30 Nov. 2017 DesJardins, Joseph R. An Introduction to Business Ethics. McGraw Hill, 20

1 comment:

  1. This was very well explained on the involvement of Matt Lauer and NBC's actions resulting. The stakeholders was a nice touch which added to the breakdown of the four theories. The only thing I could think of would be adding the year date of the controversy in the title of the blog post.