When the News is the News: A Textual Analysis of NBC and CBS networks' Response to Sexual Harassment Allegations in the Wake of the #MeToo Movement

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Virginia Tech


As the #MeToo movement swept the nation from Hollywood to Washington, within less than a week's time in November of 2017, longstanding news anchors, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were fired from their respective news networks because of sexual harassment allegations. As a result, each network had to grapple with repairing a destroyed image while simultaneously fulfilling the duty to report on news objectively. This qualitative analysis examined NBC and CBS's response to the allegations of sexual harassment against each anchor, allegations of withholding information and allegations of ignoring complaints through the lens of image repair theory in order to identify if any of the strategies were present in the networks' response. Applications of image repair discourse to news media organizations is a relatively novel examination and it highlights the complex duality of an organization's right to uphold its image but obligation to present the news objectively, even when it has become the news.



Image repair, crisis, #MeToo, NBC, CBS, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose