Post-Lauer Sex-Harassment Survey Advises: Take Fast Action

The results of a new survey on the Lauer sexual-harassment situation indicate that most people want media companies to take fast action when they are beset with high-profile (or even low-profile) sex-harassment revelations and accusations.

The survey, conducted by Morning Consult (which announced the findings Wednesday morning), found that more than "6 in 10 Americans say NBC made the right call in firing Lauer."

At the same time, however, the survey found that "a plurality of Americans believe men in the media are being unfairly attacked."

Specifically, the survey found that:

  • 63% of Americans say NBC took appropriate action toward Matt Lauer, compared to 18% who said the action was inappropriate.
  • 48% of Americans say NBC acted fast enough in firing Lauer, compared to 18% who said the network didn't act fast enough.
  • 78% of Americans say media networks should do more to stop sexual assault and harassment, compared to 9% who disagree.
  • 78% of Americans say it seems companies wait until there is a scandal before fixing problems with sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to 9% who disagree.
  • 43% of Americans agree that companies can't just keep firing men every time sexual allegations are brought forward -- compared to 42% who disagree.

On this issue, “there is a gender and partisan gap,” says Morning Consult. The survey found that:

  • 51% of men say companies should not keep firing men every time sexual allegations are brought forward – compared to 34% of women who say the same.
  • 52% of Republicans say companies should not keep firing men -- compared to 39% of Democrats.
  • 44% of Americans say that while sexual harassment is terrible, they believe many men in the media are being unfairly accused of sexual misconduct -- compared to 40% who disagree.
  • Republicans (54%), Americans ages 30-44 (52%) and men (51%) are more likely to say men in the media are being unfairly accused.

Morning Consult's survey was conducted December 1-3 among 2,301 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points, Morning Consult said.

Meanwhile, the ratings for “The Today Show” increased last week, particularly around the time of Lauer's firing, which reportedly took place in the hours (if not minutes) before the show started on Wednesday morning (November 29).

It is logical to assume that at least some of the increase and possibly most of it was a result of the drama surrounding Lauer's dismissal as the news spread at the beginning of the two-hour show and drew viewers throughout the broadcast. (One colleague likened it to the rubbernecking that takes place when motorists drive past an accident.)

After Wednesday, the “Today” shows on Thursday and Friday were likely also the beneficiaries of this increased level of interest. To their credit, the “Today” show staff -- both on-air and behind-the-scenes -- did a very professional job with this story, which was obviously one that affected them all personally.

As a result, those who tuned in to watch who perhaps do not ordinarily watch “Today” got an opportunity to form a very positive impression of the show and the professionalism of its people.

For the record, “The Today Show” leapfrogged over its principal rival -- ABC's “Good Morning America” -- during the week of Lauer's firing.

“Today” averaged a total audience that week of 4.9 million viewers vs. 4.36 million for “GMA,” according to various published reports (the TV Blog emailed a request for ratings data to a “Today Show” spokesperson and received no reply).

The previous week, “GMA” won over “Today” by 110,000 viewers. Last Wednesday's “Today Show,” -- the firing show -- drew a total audience of 5.74 million.

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