Matt Lauer is fired at NBC
Accused of crude misconduct
NEW YORK — “Today” show host Matt Lauer was fired for what NBC on Wednesday called “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague and was promptly confronted with a published report accusing him of crude and habitual misconduct with other women around the office.
With his easygoing charm, Lauer has long been a lucrative and highly visible part of NBC News and one of the highest-paid figures in the industry, and his downfall shook the network and stunned many of the roughly 4 million viewers who start their day with him.
He is easily one of the biggest names brought down in recent weeks by the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have swept through Hollywood, the media and politics.
Network news chief Andrew Lack said in a memo to the staff that NBC received a complaint about Lauer’s behavior on Monday and determined he violated company standards. NBC said the misconduct started when Lauer and a network employee were at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued beyond that assignment.
Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his 20 years at NBC, but “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
NBC News received two new complaints against Lauer on Wednesday, “NBC Nightly News” reported. The network didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Earlier Wednesday, it was left to Lauer’s shaken “Today” colleagues, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, to break the news to viewers at the top of the morning’s show.
Word of Lauer’s abrupt exit came on the day of NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special featuring the annual Manhattan tree-lighting ceremony. Lauer was to have co-hosted the Wednesday night program with Guthrie, Kotb and Al Roker.
Hours after the firing, the trade publication Variety posted what it said was a two-month investigation that included dozens of interviews with current and former staffers who asked to remain anonymous.
Among other things, Variety reported allegations that Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy with an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her; that he exposed himself to another female co-worker; that he would question female producers about their sex lives; and that he would talk about which co-hosts he would like to sleep with.
Messages to Lauer and his agent were not immediately returned, and NBC would not say whether he denied or admitted to any wrongdoing. He is married with three children.
Lauer becomes the second morning host in a week to lose his job over sexual misconduct allegations. CBS fired Charlie Rose after several women who worked for him complained about his behavior.
In other developments, former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor was cut loose by Minnesota Public Radio over an allegation of “inappropriate behavior.” MPR gave no details, but the 75-year-old Keillor said he inadvertently put his hand on a woman’s bare back in an attempt to console her.
Lauer, 59, has essentially been the king of television morning news since first being paired with Katie Couric on “Today” in 1997.
For many years, “Today” was the unquestioned ratings leader, until it was eclipsed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” following the ugly 2012 firing of Lauer’s co-host Ann Curry. The show had stabilized in recent years with Lauer’s pairing with Guthrie.