Respected News Anchors Who Are Actually Terrible People

News anchors are great, in theory. We rely on them to help us understand what is going on in the world, to deliver the news with gravitas and truth. There's a reason Walter Cronkite was once the most trusted man in America. We watch them head into hurricanes and war zones, do things we as viewers could never do, and all in the name of getting information out there. And talking heads sometimes give us their informed opinions to help us break it all down.

But like all human beings, news anchors are fallible. And some of them seem to be hiding just how terrible they are. While many of them are more creative about their personal failings, a ridiculous amount turned out to be sex pests. It seems it's almost impossible to sit at a desk and read a teleprompter without also being some kind of bigot or pervert.

Nancy Grace badgered a woman to death

It's not every news anchor who has a section on "controversies" that takes up half of their Wikipedia page. But Nancy Grace is not every news anchor. She once reported on true crime and according to the New York Times, she had a bit of a problem of assuming absolutely everyone was guilty. She "races toward judgment, heedlessly ignoring nuance and evidence on her way to finding guilt." A law professor said she managed to "demean" both the legal and journalism professions with her "hype, rabid persona, and sensational analysis."

Rushing to judgment means she often gets things wrong. She was humiliated when the Duke lacrosse team was acquitted of rape charges and was wrong about who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. But perhaps the biggest stain on her reputation her dealings with Melinda Duckett. According to the Times, in 2006, the 21-year-old mother came on Grace's show. Her 2-year-old son had just been kidnapped two weeks before, so she was obviously in a lot of pain. Presumably all she wanted was to drum up publicity so her child could be found. Instead, she found herself in a firing squad. Grace automatically assumed she was guilty and berated her with aggressive questions for 20 minutes. The next day Duckett shot herself. Grace did not feel the least bit bad about what she did, even going so far as saying it was guilt, and not the interview, that drove Duckett to suicide.

Rick Sanchez goes after the wrong guy

Rick Sanchez had been with CNN for six years, was the host of his own show ("Rick's List"), and things were going pretty well for him. Then he made two bad decisions: spouting anti-Semitic garbage on the radio and going after Jon Stewart. If history had told us anything, it's just stupid to try and attack Jon Stewart because he will bring you down. It's also not great to tell the world you're a huge bigot. Not surprisingly, Sanchez didn't have his job for long.

According to ABC News, his terrible choices started when he agreed to go on the radio show "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick." Sanchez was mad because Stewart had called him a "twit" on The Daily Show. He said the comedian was just "bigoted" against "everybody else who isn't like him." It was a dogwhistle but pretty obvious what he was talking about. Then it got worse. When the host pointed out that Stewart was part of a minority group since he was Jewish, Sanchez went all in saying, "I'm telling you that everyone who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah." Ah, the old "Jews run the media." It didn't go over well, and Sanchez was fired from his show.

Brian Williams wanted to be a hero

When you're a journalist reporting the news, it's important to not make yourself the story. You're supposed to be an impartial observer, not part of the action. But Brian Williams seemed to have some sort of hero complex. Over his long and storied career he was often out in the field and saw some crazy things. But the truth wasn't enough for him and he would often exaggerate or "misremember" certain events. These lies usually exaggerated his role or made what was happening to him sound more exciting.

Take the Iraq war. According to CNN, Williams liked to tell a story that he had been flying in a helicopter with troops when they were forced down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Thrilling! But we eventually found out the helicopter Williams rode in was actually three hours behind the ones that came under fire. It seems that one Iraq War helicopter lie wasn't enough for him, and he also claimed to have flown into Baghdad with Seal Team 6, even though no journalists were embedded with that unit.

His lies were creative. He claimed to have seen a dead body floating in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina. He said he was in Cairo's Tahrir Square and close enough to make eye contact with horses during the Egyptian protests, when he was really in his hotel. And he even told people he was there the night the Berlin Wall came down. His lies got him suspended from NBC ... and quietly moved to MSNBC.

Keith Olbermann can't hold down a job

Keith Olbermann was once the biggest name on MSNBC, but his employment history is really complicated and involves lots of sudden firings. CNN said he has been called a "perpetual bridge-burner." He has managed to lose jobs at MSNBC, Current TV, and ESPN (twice). One colleague talking to the Christian Science Monitor compared him to Charlie Sheen and said people just get sick of dealing with his huge demands and ego. Another called him "difficult"; a third said he needed to show some humility.

But his most contentious relationship was with the liberal Current TV. According to Talking Points Memo, things completely fell apart over there. For two months, Olbermann basically stopped showing up for work. Then he took a vacation he was warned not to take, right before Super Tuesday. He was accused of not respecting the viewers and "sabotaging the network," as well as attacking the network and its executives. When he was finally fired it was brutal. The official announcement said, "Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately, these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it." Ouch. Even in corporate-speak, "you suck" sounds harsh.

Olbermann said he was unfairly fired and filed a lawsuit against the company, later settling out of court. As of this writing, he's now back at ESPN part-time. (No guarantees how long he'll last.)

Matt Lauer was disgusting behind the scenes

For decades, Matt Lauer was the likable face of the wildly popular Today show. He was the guy who could keep you interested in the news, even when you hadn't had your coffee yet. But Lauer had us all confused because it turned out he was an absolute garbage dump of a human being.

The best thing you can say about him was that some of the affairs he had were consensual. He would cheat on his wife with colleagues while he was on the road. But according to Variety, many young staffers found they would be called to his hotel room late at night and propositioned. He'd even do it at work. His desk was one of several in the building that had a button that allowed you to lock the door without getting up. He would allegedly use it to trap women in his office and ask for sex acts. One woman said he exposed himself and admonished her when she started shaking and forcibly refused to do anything with it.

He had absolutely no respect for the women he worked with and his actions showed it. He always wanted to know who his producers were sleeping with, and he would openly discuss who he'd like to shag himself. Once, he gave a staffer an adult toy as a present and told her how he wanted to use it on her. Not surprisingly, once complaints became public, Lauer was fired.

Charlie Rose lost it all

The amazing thing about the harassment accusations that tore through newsrooms in 2017 and 2018 were the seemingly untouchable men they brought down. Charlie Rose is a perfect example of this. He had 45 years of journalistic experience under his belt and roles on 60 Minutes, CBS This Morning, and his own eponymous and prestigious show. But that didn't stop a flood of women from accusing him of inappropriate behavior.

In 2017, the Washington Post found eight women who said Rose crossed the line. It would start with him touching their legs, they said to gauge what their reaction would be. From there it often escalated. He would grope them in all the places you shouldn't grope coworkers. Some received lewd phone calls from him. One girl was only 21 when she was repeatedly summoned to his house where he would take a shower and then walk around stark naked in front of her. She said this happened at least 12 times. He also told her he wanted to watch her swim naked in a pool.

But the allegations were far from over. In 2018, a whopping 27 more women came forward for another Washington Post story. Their stories were very similar to the other women's: the groping and walking around nude, particularly. One woman said he forcibly kissed her while another said he quizzed her on her sex life. Rose now reportedly wants to have a TV show interviewing other men accused of similar crimes.

Tom Brokaw tried to fight back

Yes, even legendary anchor Tom Brokaw turned out to be a terrible person. At this point, can you trust anyone you've ever seen on TV not to be a harasser? Maybe better to just assume they all are. Brokaw was the face of NBC Nightly News for 22 years. Then the accusations started flying.

The Washington Post first broke the story: In 1994, Brokaw asked a low-ranking correspondent come to his hotel room in the middle of the night, even though she told him she was supposed to be traveling. When she refused he went to hers. When he got there Brokaw told her he wanted "an affair of more than passing affection" and forcibly kissed her as she tried to break free. Another woman said Brokaw offered her help with her job but made clear there would be sexual favors involved.

Unlike some of the men on this list who took their punishment quietly, Brokaw fought back. He denied that the interactions had happened the way the women remembered them, essentially saying he hadn't done anything wrong and comparing the accusations to a "drive-by shooting." Then a letter was published in April 2018, signed by over 115 female colleagues of his, including Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, and Maria Shriver, saying he was "a man of tremendous decency and integrity." The problem, Page Six reported, was many of the women felt forced into signing the letter.

Malcom Maddox is real gross

Malcom Maddox is less famous than the other people on this list, but in Detroit he was a respected anchor. He was even described as a "Renaissance Man" and his life seemed to play that out. According to the Detroit Free Press he was a Marine, then a self-taught videographer who played bass on the side. And he worked himself up in the TV news ranks. His life was going pretty well, but like so many other anchors, it turned out he was a harasser.

In Maddox's case, this came out in a lawsuit in 2018. A former colleague of his, Tara Edwards, said he had been bothering her for years. He was nothing if not creative with how gross he was. Maddox is accused of repeatedly asking Edwards to engage in "deviant and perverse" acts, which is just begging for more detail. He also would trick her into watching the kind of videos you fear your mom walking in on. Maddox was apparently of the Ray J/Kim Kardashian variety because he also asked if he could urinate on poor, innocent Edwards. And of course, he sent her pictures of his bits because that just seems required these days.

Instead of getting in trouble, the lawsuit says station executives not only covered up the harassment but kept promoting Maddox, which had to be just great for his victim to watch. It wasn't until this all became public that he was finally taken off the air.

Geraldo Rivera has bad opinions

These days, Geraldo Rivera is famous for his epic mustache and being a pretty weird talking head. It might be hard to imagine, but there was a time when he used to be a respected newsman. Perhaps it all started to go downhill when he didn't find anything in Al Capone's vault. Whatever caused it, these days he mostly has some really terrible opinions.

Amazingly, no colleagues have yet accused Rivera of the harassment that is plaguing newsrooms right now. But according to the LA Times, that didn't stop him from completely stepping in it. In 2017, as man after man turned out to be a creep, Rivera tweeted out that maybe the women involved were just confused. After all, news was a "flirty" business and maybe they were "criminalizing courtship"? This was far from the first time his opinions got him in trouble. Politico reminds us that back in 2012 he weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case, saying the boy wouldn't have been shot and killed if he hadn't been wearing a hoodie.

In 2003 he was embedded with the 101st Airborne in Iraq and put soldiers in danger when, during a Fox broadcast, he drew a map in the sand, gave away his location, and announced an upcoming operation. And he hasn't totally gotten off scot-free on the harassment front. CNN says he stands accused of drugging and groping America's sweetheart Bette Midler during an interview in the 1970s.

Bill O'Reilly is an anger monster

Depending which side of the aisle you eat on, you might be thinking "Bill O'Reilly, a respected news anchor?" But for much of the country, he was. The O'Reilly Factor was unbelievably popular, and the highest-rated news show on cable, even beating out Larry King. But the list of terrible deeds of Mr. O'Reilly is long.

O'Reilly is a big ball of anger. This was his shtick when he was on Fox, and he blew up at guests so many times that Popcrush has a list. But this wasn't just an act; the guy is a walking advertisement for anger management classes. The internet discovered this when a video of him hosting Inside Edition went viral. It showed a rehearsal for the show going badly and he freaks out for basically no reason. He screams "we'll do it live" along with profanity over and over.

And because it is seemingly epidemic among newsmen, O'Reilly is accused of being a serial harasser as well. According to the New York Times, he's a pretty sick individual. He would get close to women who worked with him or came on his show, often offering to help them with their careers. Then he would get gross. In the five lawsuits he settled for a whopping $13 million, accusations included lewd comments, unwanted flirtation and other advances, verbal abuse from the ball of anger. He would also call women up and then pleasure himself while he was on the phone with them. He finally lost his job after advertisers started fleeing.