Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons, Garrison Keillor and the Upending of Everything

Now we have to think of Matt Lauer wielding a sex toy

We’ve stopped panicking in Hollywood. Now we just stand around in confusion, jaws agape at the news that continues to swarm around us like an angry, buzzing hive.

Three more icons of media and entertainment have fallen in the past two days. We woke up on Tuesday to Matt Lauer, the boy-next-door of morning news, being summarily fired from NBC, followed by the defrocking of midwestern uncle Garrison Keillor. And then Russell Simmons — the guru of Hollywood yoga — apologized for being a jerk and quit all his businesses after an accusation by the screenwriter daughter of Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of Lena Horne.

All of these men were accused of, and admitted while not admitting to, misbehaving sexually with younger women.

Garrison Keillor

Who knows what to expect anymore?

We’ve come some distance from figures like Harvey Weinstein and Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey, who looked and acted the part of bully, Lothario or predator (in no particular order).

Now we have to think of Matt Lauer wielding a sex toy. No wonder Katie Couric is dumbstruck — though eventually she too will need to speak up.

Since last I wrote in this space, John Lasseter has been banished from Disney, producer Gary Goddard has lost his perch, the showrunner of Supergirl has been fired by the CW and police investigations continue apace against Weinstein and Spacey.

The uprising started by the Weinstein revelations is now everywhere in media and politics. (One wonders when finance and tech will join the conversation.)

I happened to be in New York and Washington DC this week, and there is no more comprehension of this cultural cluster bomb here than on the West Coast. Precious few — okay, nobody — wanted to comment officially about the paroxysms at NBC over Lauer and CBS with the ouster of Charlie Rose. One staffer at MSNBC whispered to me that she gets all her news about Ronan Farrow’s reporting from other news outlets. Neither NBC nor MSNBC touch the story, it was noted.

Why the silence, I asked? “Nobody knows,” came the response.

At a screening for a new documentary about Ben Bradlee, an auditorium full of media and political elite started hissing when footage appeared of Charlie Rose interviewing the venerable Washington Post editor in years past. (Though one might wonder how Bradlee would fare in the current climate, having left two wives for new lovers.)

We can’t keep up with the rogue’s gallery of men, once paragons of trust, and now disgraced.

Russell Simmons

Getty Images

Washington is in utter turmoil, with accusations of sexual misconduct flying between Republicans and Democrats, all against the backdrop of the chaotic Trump presidency.

It’s hard to sort the politics from the misconduct, as charges and countercharges fly. What resonates is the testimony of women coming forward, speaking out with confidence and poignancy, whether against Democratic Congressional veteran John Conyers or Senate candidate Roy Moore. It’s hard for even Ivanka Trump and Nancy Pelosi to stand by them.

My Twitter feed is full of women cheering on survivors of sexual assault as they come forward one by one, a digitally assembled Greek chorus, demanding justice.

Every news organization has a list of people about whom they have “heard things.” Many of those on TheWrap’s list have been exposed, and have exited their jobs. There are others.

Meanwhile, our president continues his tirade against the media. His own accusers of sexual misconduct go unanswered, while the leaders of our media and entertainment landscape lose their positions, one by one.