NOTE: This article contains disturbing and sexually explicit language. Please read at your own discretion.
Now, industry publication Variety has released a report alleging that “multiple” women have come forward with sexual harassment accusations against Lauer. Variety claims it has spent the last two months investigating Lauer, interviewing dozens of current and former employees at NBC.
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In total, the publication says that it has spoken to three women who say Lauer sexually harassed them, and Variety has corroborated their stories. The women have asked to remain anonymous for fear of impact on their careers.
As of this writing, Lauer and his representative have not commented on the accusations.
Among the new allegations:
- Lauer allegedly gave a colleague a sex toy as a gift and included a note saying how he wanted to “use it” on her
- Lauer allegedly called a female employee into his office, where he’s accused of dropping his pants and showing her his penis; the woman says she was later reprimanded by Lauer for not engaging in any sexual act
- Lauer allegedly liked to “play games” like “F**k, Marry, Kill” with female colleagues and interview subjects, often stating who he’d like to sleep with while playing
- Lauer allegedly had a “fixation” on women, despite being married for over a decade
- Lauer allegedly had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without having to get up
“There were a lot of consensual relationships, but that’s still a problem because of the power he held,” said a former producer to Variety. “He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”
The initial colleague complaint that got Lauer fired reportedly stems from his time covering the Sochi Olympics in 2014, which is emerging as part of a pattern. Other women who used to work for NBC, and who were interviewed by Variety, claim Lauer would invite them back to his hotel room at night while covering the Olympics in various cities.
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Many NBC producers also accused Lauer of being cruel.
“There is such shame with Matt Lauer not liking you,” said one former employee to Variety. “I did this special with him and we are travelling and I had a cold sore on my lip and I heard him say to Bryant Gumbel, ‘She has this really ugly cold sore on her lip,’ like that was something to be ashamed of. He was just really cruel.”
Lauer’s co-host, Savannah Guthrie, made the announcement that Lauer was fired during the opening of Wednesday’s show.
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“This is a sad morning here at Today and NBC News,” Guthrie said before reading a statement sent to staff by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack.
“It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Lack said in the statement.
“While it is the first complaint about his behaviour in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
After reading the statement, Guthrie said, “As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this. All we can say is we are heartbroken; I’m heartbroken.”
Guthrie described Lauer as “a dear, dear friend,” and said she was “heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story.”
She then asked rhetorically, “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”
The move comes a week after CBS News fired morning anchor Charlie Rose amid reports of sexual misconduct.
Lauer, 59, has been a fan favourite on Today for more than two decades. He first joined the show in 1994 as a newsreader; within four years he was the show’s co-anchor. He’s worked alongside noted and respected journalists Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric and Ann Curry over the course of his tenure.
In a 2012 interview on Watch What Happens: Live, Couric told host Andy Cohen that Lauer “pinches me on my a** a lot.” (You can watch this exchange in the video, below.) Cohen had asked her what Lauer’s most annoying habit was.
NBC negotiated a deal with Lauer in 2016 to keep him on the air through 2018, but obviously, that deal is now moot.
Lauer’s wife, Annette, filed for divorce in 2006, accusing him of “cruel and inhumane behaviour,” but withdrew the filing shortly afterwards when they reached a private agreement.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.