NBC Parts Ways With Matt Lauer Following Sexual Assault Allegations
On Wednesday, NBC executives announced in a statement that Matt Lauer, the morning news anchor of the "Today Show," had been terminated.
The decision came after a colleague came forward and met with network executives and human resources to discuss her allegations of sexual harassment by Lauer, on Monday night.
In a memo sent to ‘Today Show” staffers, before the show went to air on Wednesday, NBC News Chairman, Andrew Lack, sent out the following statement to NBC News staffers:
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” Andrew Lack, the NBC News chairman, said in a memo to the staff. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
According to a report from Variety, Lauer began making sexual advances towards this colleague while in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The advances continued for several more months.
Over the past two months, Variety has been in contact with several other women claiming to have been sexually harassed by Matt Lauer while working at NBC.
This harassment occurred in various ways including risqué text messages sent by Lauer to female colleagues and by Lauer initiating unwanted sexual advances.
In one instance, Lauer reportedly gifted a female colleague a sex toy with “an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her.” Another woman said that Lauer called her into his office, where he preceded to expose his genitalia in front of her, and then, admonished her for refusing to take part in a sexual act with him.
Two other women told Variety that he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his office door from the inside. As a result, he could then proceed to engage in “inappropriate contact” with female employees without fear of being walked in on.
Following the meeting with the employee, which lasted several hours, according to Ari Wilkenfeld, the lawyer of the accuser, who chose to remain anonymous, Lauer was informed of his termination. Wilkenfeld said in a statement released by The New York Times, “Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.”
On Wednesday morning, ‘Today Show’ anchor, Savannah Guthrie, said of Lauer’s termination, “I am heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is loved by many, many people here.”
However, she added, “[…] I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell. […] We promise to be transparent and be straightforward and continue this important conversation.”