Sexual harassment in the newsroom

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

A disgrace to the field of journalism

Over the past two months, sexual harassment claims have toppled the careers of numerous media titans, with the most recent allegations directed at the Today Show’s Matt Lauer and Public Radio’s Garrison Keillor. The list of men in journalism who are accused of committing acts of sexual misconduct or abuse is growing by the week — and sometimes by the day. Among the high-profile men who have faced repercussions are Charlie Rose, the longtime host of “CBS This Morning” and correspondent of “60 Minutes”; Glenn Thrush, a White House correspondent for The New York Times; Mark Halperin, a contributor at NBC News and MSNBC; Michael Oreskes and David Sweeney, two of NPR’s top editors; Hamilton Fish, the publisher and president of The New Republic; Bill O’Reilly, a host at Fox News; and Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media.

In most cases, these men have wielded staggering amounts of power and influence over the direction of their news organizations and the national discourse. Lauer, arguably the most powerful member on Today’s editorial staff, reportedly shot down stories about sexual misconduct for years. Thrush, who covered allegations of sexual harassment against President Donald Trump about a year before being accused himself, is considered a leading voice in political journalism. Rose was once labeled “one of the most important and influential people in journalism” by Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

In short, a group of openly misogynistic men have shaped the way we see the world through their stature in journalism — deciding which stories to pursue, which to ignore and how to tell them. This of course asks the question: How can we trust reporting on sexual violence and harassment when the very individuals reporting the news have themselves committed the same atrocities?

This string of powerful men in the media threatens integrity and the commitment to telling the raw, ugly and uncensored truth on the topic of sexual assault. Many of the contributions these men have made to journalism are undoubtedly marred and diminished by the shadow of their transgressions. These misdeeds automatically damage the industry as a whole. The allegations knock down the credibility of some of the most-trusted media companies in America — and without objectivity and reliability, journalism is nothing.

Perhaps most infuriating are the media conglomerates that have protected these men after, in some cases, decades of allegations. It’s unacceptable when news sources are less willing to sacrifice their sexist cash cows than they are their consciences and journalistic integrities.

These widespread allegations shine a much-needed spotlight on the deeply-rooted misogyny still infecting and shaping media output. Media organizations must reckon with the ways it has historically allowed such despicable behavior to go unaddressed for so long.

As with all cases of sexual harassment and violence, the victims remain the primary concern, and the Editorial Board commends those who, despite a culture stacked against them, have bravely come forward with their accounts. We demand that news outlets finally prioritize the safety of their employees, hold their reporters accountable for their behaviors and honor their journalistic commitments to factual and trustworthy reporting.

 

Written By: The Editorial Board