Is Matt Lauer Really Sorry?

Matt Lauer issued a statement in the wake of his firing from the “Today” show, which was announced on Wednesday following a “detailed complaint” of sexual misconduct against the news anchor. More women have since spoken out about Lauer’s alleged inappropriate behavior.

In a statement read by his former “Today” co-hosts, Lauer said, “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt I am truly sorry.

“As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”

Do you believe him, that he’s deeply sorry? I do not. And it’s not just the usual cynicism about celebrities and their characteristic hypocrisy. I view it as a psychological impossibility.

If Matt Lauer truly grasped the damage he has done to people important to him, he would never have been able to do it in the first place.

What most likely happened was that he felt he could get away with it all. That was his belief. His belief ultimately proved false, but he held that belief with good reason. He counted on scores of women never saying anything. And for years, they didn’t. He believed that his position of influence and admiration by millions of fans somehow immunized him from what has now happened. That was his error.

He counted on the weakness or fear of the persons he victimized — and the honest ignorance of his many adoring fans — in order to keep on doing it. He never anticipated the cultural phenomenon of the last several months where people start coming out with the truth, assuming the allegations are true (and people like Lauer are not denying them). To be fair, nobody else anticipated all this either.

My point is that the Matt Lauer we’re seeing now — the deeply remorseful one — would never have been capable of doing the things he now admits to having done freely and extensively for years. It would have driven his conscience and psyche crazy. The cognitive and emotional dissonance would have simply been too much.

The only thing that has changed is that he can no longer get away with it. His career is ruined, at least for now, and there may be legal consequences. And of course he’s not happy about that. But if he were really unhappy about the things he claims he’s unhappy about, he would not have been capable of doing them in the first place.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible that he suppressed his remorse to such an extent that it’s now all coming out. But that’s a stretch. When people do things that directly only harm themselves and only indirectly harm others, as is the case with substance abuse or other similar addiction-like behaviors, it’s a different story. In those cases, it’s more plausible to accept the person just rationalized everything on the premise, “Nobody else knows, so what’s the harm?”

But when you’re literally harassing and abusing other people in your own presence and theirs, most likely getting off on the power you hold over them because of the impossible situation you place them in, the excuse of denial and blocking no longer holds water.

Matt Lauer had to know what he was doing. He simply did not care. Now, in the span of 24 hours, he suddenly does?

Because Lauer is (like most journalists) a Democrat and a leftist, and because leftists are afforded compassion (by leftists) that non-leftists are usually not granted in our culture, there will eventually be a debate. The debate will arise between those who say you shouldn’t forgive him and those who say you should. It will basically be a debate among leftists.

Because Lauer is a leftist in a culture whose elites and government officials (even elite Republicans) usually are leftist, I believe that he will come out in the end as a forgiven celebrity who prances around with his own achievement trophy of victimhood. Oprah might even resuscitate her old talk show to fawn and swoon with compassionate, tearful stares as he talks about the suffering brought about by his guilt.

We’ve seen it too many times before not to expect it again. Right now the reactions are primarily ones of shock and anger, but I think that will change – because Lauer is a leftist. Watch and see if I’m right. I would love to be wrong, by the way, because it would mean that our culture really has changed and “victim think” has gone the way of the horse and buggy. But forgive me for not quite holding my breath.


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