In early 2012, there was a mysterious codename floating in the halls of NBC's prized morning show, the Today show. It was called "Operation Bambi," and it had a disturbing meaning. It was a concerted effort orchestrated by longtime Today show anchor Matt Lauer to oust his then co-host Ann Curry. Lauer had named his sinister effort "Operation Bambi," because getting rid of Ann Curry, a longtime veteran reporter for NBC credited in part with giving the organization its reputation for hard-hitting journalism (interspersed with entertainment and hokey comedy beats, of course) would be tantamount to "killing Bambi."
Curry was fired in June of 2012, and her tearful departure message is still as visceral today as it was then. Many people speculated that her abrupt departure had been Lauer's doing, but NBC alleged that Curry had been fired because Today's ratings began to lag behind competitor Good Morning America.
Lauer was finally fired today, and social media is rejoicing.
For years, Matt Lauer ruled the roost at NBC.
Today, however, the winds have changed, and the seemingly impossible has happened.Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie announced live on air that Lauer had been let go due to allegations of sexual harassment, which, as she noted, seemed extremely credible. "All we can say is we are heartbroken; I’m heartbroken," Guthrie said. The New York Times noted that Today staff only learned of the news moments before going live. Guthrie continued by saying she was “heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story"
While this may seem shocking, NBC wasn't particularly blindsided by the news.
One NYT reader's reaction to Matt Lauer being fired by NBC over a sexual harassment allegation… https://t.co/4CHtj7hdvX— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1511972588.0
Besides, as previously noted, Lauer has always espoused a particularly virulent and sinister form of sexism.wrote, "Lauer had turned what should have been a serious discussion into a pointless ambush. What a waste of time." Indeed.
But Lauer's most vicious treatment was saved for the women who worked next to him – particularly Ann Curry, who he hated because she threatened his dominance as the reigning Today show hard-hitting journalist.Brian Stelter of the New York Times described what Curry went through:
Curry felt that the boys’ club atmosphere behind the scenes at “Today" undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture. The growing indifference of Matt Lauer, her co-host, had hurt the most, but there was also just a general meanness on set. At one point, the executive producer, Jim Bell, commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes. Another time, according to a producer, Bell called staff members into his office to show a gaffe she made during a cross-talk with a local station.Well, now, times have changed, which means people on social media are having a blast.
Just what are they doing, might you ask?
Somewhere Ann Curry is watching the Matt Lauer situation unfold like https://t.co/RauQwi6weY— Henchwoman (@Henchwoman)1511971806.0
The #SomewhereAnnCurry meme has become widespread in only a couple of hours because it speaks to a very deep part of the psyche.
Somewhere Ann Curry just started a group text with "Biiiiiiiiiitch" #TodayShow #mattlauer https://t.co/r0XlvUYepS— The Momdalorian (@The Momdalorian)1511963199.0
The worst thing about all the allegations is that people are finally starting to understand the structure that protected these powerful men, and how these structures ground-up and discarded countless women.Ann Curry, for instance, was the better reporter, as compared to Matt Lauer. As the Huffington Post notes, "internal research reportedly found that when the two were onscreen together, it was Lauer who was less appealing to viewers, not Curry.
Ann Curry is not the first woman to fall victim to the structures protecting a powerful, predatory man.
Somewhere Ann Curry just topped off her coffee with some Bailey's. https://t.co/CRs30e3YAM— Perez Hilton (@Perez Hilton)1511967514.0
The reason the women who have come forward publicly with their stories are considered to be so brave is because they are in many ways avatars for the uncountable women whose lives were affected either directly or indirectly by the actions of these men.
There are the women who were denied job opportunities for not succumbing to advances. There are the creators whose work never saw the light of day because they didn’t play these men’s games. There are the people who left the industry disgusted and wounded by how they were treated, whose potential output and excellence was cut short. There are ambitious ones who refused to work with powerful people whom they had heard “the stories" about, or whose upward mobility was limited because they were resistant or fearful of working too close to them.