The Today Show announced this week that it was axing Matt Lauer who has been accused of sexual harassment by at least three women. Accounts of Lauer’s allegedly lewd behavior were revealed in a major Variety article on Nov. 29.
The magazine reported that it had conducted a two-month investigation on the perverted news host. It stated that it had conducted dozens of interviews with both former and current NBC staffers. Variety added that it had talked to the three women who claimed they were sexually harassed by Lauer. Those stories have been backed up by friends and colleagues that they told about the alleged transgressions at the time. As of today, the three have not given their names because of fear of harm to their careers.
One of the women interviewed claimed that Lauer once gave her a sex toy as a Christmas present. It also allegedly included a detailed note about how he wanted to use it on her. Another woman stated that he called her to his office in 2001, closed the door and exposed himself to her. After the woman would not do anything, he criticized her for not performing a sexual act.
Just before the Variety story broke, NBC announced that it had fired its $25 million per year front man. It was a shocking move for an NBC star that has been widely viewed as one of its news division’s most important assets.
The specific cause of the firing, sources told Variety, was a highly detailed complaint from another women about possibly illegal sexual conduct by the host that began on a trip to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
That employee met with NBC human resources on November 28. NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said that this was the first complaint about sexual behavior by Lauer in his more than 20 years at the network. Lack noted that there may be more complaints about the pervy newsman coming out soon. He said that he and the NBC attorneys present reported that there was reason to believe that there were other incidents that may be reported later involving other women.
Complaints Fell on Deaf Ears for Years
Several women reported to Variety that they had complained to upper level managers about Lauer’s inappropriate behavior for years. But they said that their complaints were ignored because of the highly lucrative advertising revenue that the Today Show earned for the network. For most of the years that Lauer was at NBC, the show led the ratings. News executives wanted to keep him happy, and it is possible that the women’s complaints were set aside.
NBC sources said that the network had to act fast once they learned of the charges. The severity and detail of the accusations, combined with the current national dialogue about sexual harassment that has ended the careers of many media and entertainment titans, meant that NBC needed to cut ties with Lauer immediately.
Now, after all these accusations against Lauer, there are many people questioning the future of The Today Show. There also are many criticizing the network for presenting a squeaky-clean dad image for Lauer on camera, while behind the scenes, he was a twisted and troubled person.
Ten accounts given to Variety reveal that even though he was married, Lauer had an obsession with attractive women in the workplace. He was notorious for making lewd and suggestive comments in person or by text. Katie Couric, for example, was asked in 2012 what she disliked most about Lauer. She replied with a sour look: “That he pinches me on the ass.” He also allegedly made an inappropriate reference to a woman colleague’s sexual performance, then compared it to how she could complete her job better, according to a witness.
A former producer told the magazine that while there were several consensual relationships between Lauer and NBC women, but they were still a problem because of the great power he wielded. She said that Lauer could not sleep around in New York City, on the road or anywhere else because he was the ‘clean’ Matt Lauer and was married. So he had to release his sexual energy in the workplace where he had tremendous power. He knew that few women would ever complain because they feared the destruction of their careers.
Until now. With all of the recent charges about sexual harassment and sexual assault that have ruined the careers of such men as Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, it seems that more men in power will have to answer for their behavior in the workplace.
Lauer Grew More Brazen in 2006
Variety claims that Lauer became more brazen in his inappropriate behavior after Katie Couric left the show in 2006. His office at 30 Rockefeller Center was highly secluded and private. He even had a button under his desk that let him lock the door without having to get up. This provided him with a high level of privacy. It was possible for him to welcome women into his office, initiate inappropriate sexual contact, and know that it was impossible for there to be any witnesses.
The sexual harassment would continue when Lauer was traveling on assignment for NBC. Several NBC workers told Variety how he had paid intense attention to an attractive young woman on his staff. He focused on her career ambitions intensely. He also asked that same woman to come to his hotel room to bring him a pillow.
This was part of a larger pattern where Lauer would invite NBC women to his hotel room at night while he was covering the Olympics in assorted cities over the last 20 years. Later, he told colleagues that his wife had come with him to the Olympics in London because she knew that he would cheat on her.
Lauer – A Source of Today Show Gossip For Years
Lauer’s perverted conduct was an open secret among many employees at Today, according to several sources. At least one of the Today anchors gossiped about stories she heard about Lauer’s activities. A former reporter for NBC stated that management allowed Lauer to do whatever he wanted because he made so much money for the network.
A day after he was canned for inappropriate sexual behavior, Lauer issued an apology that was read on the air on the Today Show by one of the other anchors. He said that he did not have the words to say how sorry he was for the pain that he had caused others by his actions and words. Lauer said that some of the stories about him are not true, but ‘there is enough truth in these stories that make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.’
Lauer, who is married with three children, is likely not the only one in this case to be embarrassed and ashamed.
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Matt Lauer appears on NBC’s “Today” show on in New York
NBC Today Show With The Cast Of Turbo, New York, USA – 9 Jul 2013