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Ann Curry on NBC and Matt Lauer: 'It’s Not About Whether I’m Satisfied'

Illustration for article titled Ann Curry on NBC and Matt Lauer: It’s Not About Whether I’m Satisfiedem/em
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Ann Curry’s PBS show We’ll Meet Again is about revisiting events that have transformed people’s lives: surviving a war or a natural disaster, escaping Cuba or the Holocaust, or participating in a political revolution for your civil rights. In a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine, which published on Friday, Curry describes the benefit of having critical distance from such an event. “I’ve spent many years covering transformative moments and documenting what people experience in real time,” she says. “To be able to interview people after they’ve had time to think about what’s happened and who to thank for their survival, it’s a different way of doing those kinds of stories.”


It may still be too soon to ask Curry to comment on the state of NBC a year after her former Today Show co-host Matt Lauer was fired, and more than three years after she left. Not because not enough time as passed—but because Curry gets that her feelings about her former employer pale in comparison to the need to materially change the way workplace harassment is identified and dealt with.

When the Times interviewer asked Curry if she’s “satisfied with the way NBC has dealt with the accusations against Lauer and Tom Brokaw,” who also accused of sexual harassment stemming from an incident that allegedly took place in the ‘90s, she handily breaks this down:

You know, I think that’s the wrong question. It’s not about whether I’m satisfied. I think the real question is, What is it going to take for women to be able to be in the workplace and not have the struggle, the pain, the vulnerability of sexual harassment, physical or verbal?


She contends that the story of the hell Lauer wreaked on Today is attention-grabbing, but it’s not what we should be focused on:

Media companies are the bright, shiny object in the problem. [But] the pressure is on all companies to find a path that allows women and men to report these experiences and have them fully investigated without retribution. What may be needed is an outside agency that has an ability to investigate and, when there is adequate evidence, to help prosecute cases in which there are clear violations of the law.

She sounds optimistic about holding institutions and men accountable for their actions, and bringing an end to rampant workplace sexual harassment, which is a nice counterpoint to my usual level of dread:

We should make no mistake: The third wave of the women’s movement has begun. The first gave women the right to vote; the second gave women opportunities. What we are witnessing is the third wave, the one that is aiming to eliminate these last hurdles. And sexual harassment is clearly one of the hurdles that has prevented women from reaching their full potential. It was just a matter of time before women rise to be equal partners to the highest ranks.


And most of all, I appreciate her defending journalism and dunking on journos who always tweet “BIG SCOOP COMING” before dropping a story, which is how I’m choosing to interpret this quote (emphasis mine):

I think also a lot of factors have raised doubts about the trustworthiness of journalism — unfairly. But journalism is vulnerable to making mistakes because it’s just the very nature of what we do. I think it’s about individual reporters who are trustworthy and are not self-promoting, promoting their institutions [or] promoting one side or another of the story, but who really are trying to promote the truth.


Right on.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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I work with someone who has been making his female colleagues feel unsafe for years. We have exhausted all internal options for getting him disciplined, and HR confidentiality prevents us from learning what, if any corrective action has been taken. Those of us who have gone out on a limb to report his behavior have never gotten a resolution, an action plan, or even an acknowledgement that we’ve been mistreated.

My point is that no woman ever gets satisfaction in these cases. If we do anything, it is in the hopes that others who come after us, or alongside us, will be treated more fairly, feel safe and confident in their workplace, and know that they have an obligation to pay it forward. Ann Curry gets it.