Jane Pauley: I Was Harassed at NBC

Jane Pauley has taken over the CBS Sunday Morning chair as she continues her stellar run in TV news. 

But, it a sit down with the Daily Beast, Pauley remembers a time that she was sexually harassed while working at NBC. 

“I can tell you one story—of a kind of middish-level executive at NBC who made an advance that was inappropriate. And I just felt so sorry for him,” Pauley confided with a sheepish smile, without identifying the miscreant. “To be specific, he took me to lunch, and in those days that was not unusual to have lunch with a fellow professional. And he did suggest that we should have an affair.

“I didn’t know what he was thinking. I was attached”—to Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who since 1980 has been Pauley’s husband, sharing three adult children and two grandchildren. “I think that’s what I told him. And I was so embarrassed for him.”
Ever-introspective, Pauley contrasted herself with the on-air women whom Roger Ailes harassed at Fox News.  “Why did I care about his feelings, when clearly he was trying to take advantage of what he perceived as a position of seniority where he would be capable of helping me advance in my career there? Why did I feel embarrassed for him? And why was I as careful as I was with his feelings?

"And, by the way, over the years, we worked together comfortably.”

Was he married?

“Of course he was!” Pauley fairly shouts. “I think he appreciated that I could have made it so uncomfortable for him, and I didn’t…I should’ve. I would’ve. Today, I wish. I don’t know if I would have handled it any differently. Because young women are vulnerable. But today I’m old enough to look back, and the mystery of why a woman could put up with that, work with it, not call the police or report to human resources, or whatever—why?

“It’s explicable. But maybe you have to be a young woman in that [situation]. It’s not about ambition. In my case, it was not about ‘Uh-oh, I’ll have to handle this with some dexterity—this could hurt me.’ It wasn’t about that at all. I was embarrassed.”

Sadly, what happened to Pauly all those years ago, still happens to this day. 

While many things change in TV news, some things stay the same.