Seriously, I am stuck for a reaction to the news this week that both Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor have both been let go, with appropriate force, by their employers for sexual conduct unbecoming and unprofessional in the extreme with women in their respective workplaces. Earlier in the week it was howls for the heads of John Conyers and Al Franken, giving the impression of those gentlemen holding on to their congressional seats by their bare fingertips, while Cokie Roberts confesses that ‘everyone’ knew not to get into an elevator with Congressman Conyers. Jeez Louise, is there anyone in the higher levels of show business, the media and the government who isn’t a total woman-mauling pig? Anyone? And is there anyone in the media specifically charged with covering show biz and politics who isn’t complicit in covering these matters – with a pillow, until they stop moving, in the deathless phrase of Iowahawk? Can we wait until our fearless media fifth-column representatives are cornered like a rat and forced to ‘fess up to deliberately looking the other way? Oh, and thanks, Cokie – for sitting on that bit of intelligence regarding sexual abuse on Capitol Hill. Just couldn’t bear to tear yourself away from the sweet, sweet source of social power in Capitol City, and face the prospect of never being invited to the good cocktail parties again, could you? Between you and Garrison Keillor, I feel like demanding a refund of every single dollar in pledges I ever made to public radio and television. I will keep the Blake’s 7 tee shirt and the La Madelaine cookbook, though. (The tee shirt is trashed, and the cookbook is pretty well-worn.)
Granted, the accusations – so far – aimed at the lugubrious king of live variety show public radio seem rather thin, but the roundelay of accusation is still young as far as Garrison K. is concerned. I ought not to be taking such unseemly and unchristian satisfaction out of his embarrassment, since there seem to be less than half-a-dozen accusers on record in his case, but he has been so ugly regarding Republicans, conservatives, citizens of Flyoverlandia, and small rural towns in general over the last twenty years (or more), that I am more than happy to point, laugh, and privately make scurrilous jokes regarding the size of his gut and his genitalia. But the print intifada regarding Mr. Lauer and his workplace practices seems to be exhaustively documented … again, I say, “Oh, my.” Between those who played along, those who ran silently screaming – and those who knew but preferred not to share with the general public … is there anyone at the topmost levels of the media, show business or the government whose hands are not dripping with …ahem, certain bodily fluids?
Of course, this whole farrago can rightly be compared to the Salem witch trials, or even the great 1980s Satanic Day Care Scare, in that public hysteria mounted up and up, and the whole thing took on a ghastly life of its own – never mind that most, if not all of the accused in those cases were innocent, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. Public hysteria is never a pretty sight; even – and especially – if those involved in the whipping-up eventually express remorse and regret later, over having been carried away. Likely it will prove the same with this current round of national public hysteria. But I must confess that I find the spectacle of national establishments and industries who have spent the last twenty years (or more) lecturing ordinary Americans about our various failings (political, social, sexual and racial) being so thoroughly shamed. Discuss, if you can stop snickering long enough.