That CBS' Bryant Gumbel is, among other things, a
vulgarian is not really news. The only thing new is that this has now been exposed live, on his morning program, when he was heard, on the air, saying the "f" word. In fact, Gumbel's verbal crudeness, and a lot more about him, was revealed almost a decade ago in a widely-ignored book by a former NBC staffer on the "Today" show which Gumbel co-hosted.
In her book, "Inside Today: The Battle For The Morning" (Villard Books, 1992), Judy Kessler, who was on the "Today" staff for four years as a talent coordinator and entertainment producer, documents how Gumbel was vulgar, abusive, sexist, degrading and insensitive. How so? Let us count some of the ways as reported by Kessler:
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- For openers, Gumbel is quoted as saying of himself, "I'm a cocky (SOB) who thinks he can make anything work."
- The New York consulting firm McHugh and Hoffman assessed Gumbel as "a real smart-assy young kid. ..."
- Staffers remember Gumbel's office as being a place "you just wouldn't sail into" because: "It was like a locker room. There was a lot of snickering and 'so she's a good lay' talk, which may or may not have been a lot of talk and no action, but there was a lot more of that kind of swaggering."
- In the daily morning meetings, "things descended to their lowest level in terms of the mentality of the men who were instrumental in the show. It was here that Bryant referred daily to many of the women on the show in the most derogatory terms. His worst offense was towards Jane (Pauley), whom he often referred to behind closed doors of these daily meetings as 'the ----' (slang for the female sex organ)." Kessler says that as time went on, Gumbel "got progressively worse." One man attending these meetings says, "Bryant was generally so aggressively nasty towards women that it was shocking. He would give his assessment of everyone's bust size and he would say things like, 'You know I could sleep with that one if I wanted to.'"
- "There were women unit managers that he claimed to have slept with all over the place and then he would say things like, 'She's not even a good lay.' Then he had the habit of walking around the office and going up behind a lot of women and massaging their back and shoulders. The other thing he used to do was run his hand up their back to see if they we wearing a brassiere."
- It is said that "when you got on the wrong side of Bryant, the situation was not easily reversed. He held his grudges tightly."
- "Today's" talent department was referred to by Gumbel and other men on the show as the "F------ Talent Department."
- When Gumbel gave an interview to Playboy magazine, "he commented on the attributes of the wide variety of women who went by his window during the interview." When asked about how he often ruffles the feathers of some folks, Gumbel said, "I am the way I am. I didn't come on this show to make friends. For that, I go to the Y." Regarding his feelings in general about people, he said, "It's not that I dislike many people. It's just that I don't like many people. There's a difference."
In this "Playboy" interview, when asked about what his wife thought about his "girl watching," Gumbel said, "Al McGuire (a former NBA basketball star and sportscaster) once said that one of the rules of marriage he always followed was never commenting on another woman in his wife's presence. Not a bad rule." When pressed on the subject, about whether his wife sees his "eyes wander," Gumbel said, "I think she'd have to; don't everybody's?"
Perhaps not too interestingly, since this book was published, Gumbel and his wife have parted company. Their separation was caused, no doubt, by such stories as that which appeared in the "National Enquirer" on March 1, 1993. This two-paged spread, complete with photographs, was headlined, "Bryant Gumbel Cheats On His Wife With Blonde Sexpot: 'Today' Host Spends Cozy Valentine's Day Weekend With Girl Half His Age." The young woman in this story is named, and quoted as saying that Gumbel was "a wonderful lover." The place they shacked up for the weekend is also named.
- As Deborah Norville filled in more and more for "Today" co-host Jane Pauley, Gumbel "was more and more frequently referring to Jane Pauley as 'frumpy,' an attitude with repercussions that would ultimately affect not only Jane Pauley's life, but many others as well."
- In an article in Sports Illustrated which is said to have been a turning point in the way in which the public perceived him, Gumbel was portrayed as "a raging egomaniac, revered by his dead father on the one hand, while being inexcusably mean to his mother and sisters on the other."
- And then there is the infamous internal memo written by Gumbel, and leaked to the press, in which he viciously trashed every one of his co-workers at "Today," including the program's beloved weatherman Willard Scott. Scott calls Gumbel's attempted apology "feeble," saying, "He didn't quite apologize, not in the classic sense. He sounded like Eastern Airlines advising passengers, 'We regret the inconvenience.' At no point did I suspect any sincere regrets." Gumbel himself originally suggested that NBC lie about his memo and deny it.
- Gumbel is said to be a prima donna with a capital "p." We are told his wardrobe "is always perfectly coordinated; his ties, his socks, and his underwear always match." David Letterman once cracked that Gumbel was the kind of guy who would spend a weekend alphabetizing his colognes.
- Jane Pauley says Gumbel's attitudes toward women was "Neanderthal."
- It is said that Gumbel's "behavior towards women was often filled with hostility. ... he was astoundingly insensitive, and at times in the office his behavior was simply childish. He got a kick out of 'scaring' women. One staffer described his antics. 'He would grab a dead mouse ... and he would run around waving it in women's faces. He would hide behind an office door on his hands and knees like a dog, barking at women, nipping at their feet and trying to scare them."
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OK. You get the picture. Bryant Gumbel is a bum. And, of course he should be fired.
In fact, considering all this garbage which has been known about him for years, this creep should never have been hired in the first place.