Lauer releases statementon firing, feels 'ashamed'
Former “Today” show host Matt Lauer, fired for sexual misconduct, said Thursday that repairing the damage that he has caused is now his full-time job.
Lauer's first public response to his firing was read by his former co-host, Savannah Guthrie, on the show where he had worked since 1994 before being fired Tuesday night. Lauer said that some of what has been said about him is untrue or mischaracterized, “but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
Midler tweets reminder of accusation against Rivera
Bette Midler renewed an allegation of 1970s sexual misconduct against Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, a day after Rivera called the news business “flirty” amid Matt Lauer's dismissal by NBC.
In the tweet posted by the actress-singer and confirmed by her publicist, she included a video from the 1991 interview with Barbara Walters in which Midler made the allegation against Rivera.
”Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this,” Midler posted.
Keillor fans irked, threaten to withdraw support
Outraged Garrison Keillor fans deluged Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday with complaints about the firing of the humorist over alleged workplace misconduct. Some say they will no longer support MPR.
MPR said Wednesday it was cutting ties with Keillor, creator and former host of the popular public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman's bare back while trying to console her.
WASHINGTON – As allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful lawmakers roil Congress, House Democrats on Thursday delivered their strongest rebuke yet with calls for Michigan Rep. John Conyers' resignation, while those in the Senate reserved judgment for their embattled colleague, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized the multiple accusations against the 88-year-old Conyers, which included repeated propositions for sex, and retaliation against one former aide who rebuffed his advances, as “serious, disappointing and very credible.”
In no uncertain terms, the top Democrat in the House said, “Congressman Conyers should resign,” a call echoed by other Democratic leaders.
Conyers' lawyer, Arnold Reed, swiftly rejected the request as the lawmaker professes his innocence.
“Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman, and she sure as hell won't be the one to tell the congressman to leave. That decision will be completely up to the congressman,” Reed said.
Reed raised the specter of a double standard as House Democrats pressed for Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, to step aside, while few have called for Franken to relinquish his seat.
“At the end of the day, I would suspect that Nancy Pelosi is going to have to explain what is the ... difference between Al Franken and congressman Conyers,” Reed said.
Punishment has been swift for titans of entertainment, media and sports, accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior and harassment leading to immediate firings. Not so in Congress, where lawmakers have said ethics panels should have time to investigate and have been reluctant to reverse the will of the voters.
Yet the clamor was growing, with some House Democrats arguing that if Conyers goes, so should Franken. That demand was made hours after Franken faced a new allegation: An Army veteran accused him of groping her during a USO Christmas tour in the Middle East more than a decade ago.
Stephanie Kemplin, 41, of Maineville, Ohio, told CNN that Franken had cupped her right breast when she stood next to him for a photo in December 2003. Kemplin, who was deployed to Kuwait at the time, became the fifth woman in two weeks to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct.
The Senate Ethics Committee announced on Thursday that it had opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations against Franken, who has apologized and said he welcomes the probe.
Pelosi's comments came after she faced harsh criticism for calling Conyers an “icon” who has “done a great deal to protect women” during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
By Thursday, the highest-ranking members of the party had upped the ante, from simply backing an ethics investigation and emphasizing the importance of due process for those accused, to calling for Conyers' resignation.
“Zero tolerance means consequences – for everyone, no matter how great the legacy, it's not license to harass or discriminate,” Pelosi said.
In a different case of sex and a House member, Rep. Joe Barton, a 17-term Republican from Texas who announced this month he was seeking re-election, decided Thursday that he wouldn't, just a week after a nude photo of him leaked on social media.
Although his House colleagues didn't call for his resignation or suggest he not run again, Barton faced increasing political pressure in his home state to step aside.
This week, a Republican announced he would run against Barton in next year's primary.
“Obviously you know I've been in a little bit of a controversy,” Barton said Thursday. “I just felt it was time to pass the torch.”