Matt Lauer, one of NBC News’s leading anchors, has been fired from NBC over a sexual misconduct allegation. The news was delivered to staff via memo from Andrew Lack, NBC News president, early Wednesday morning, the New York Times reports.
According to the memo, NBC received “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer” on Monday night. After reviewing the complaint, they determined that Lauer’s alleged behavior was in “clear violation” of their standards. As a result, they made the decision to fire Lauer, noting that “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.”
A tearful Savannah Guthrie announced the news on Today, a show that Lauer has been involved with in some capacity for the majority of his career. Per the Times, the cast of the morning show found out a few minutes before going on air. Hoda Kotb, who usually hosts the manic and kooky fourth hour with Kathy Lee Gifford, was pulled in as emergency host.
Interesting to note, however, is the timing of Lauer’s firing. According to a tweet from Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister, a bombshell story about Lauer was coming. NBC’s decision to fire Lauer before the specifics of the allegations were made public is a puzzling new strategy employed by companies who have found that their ranks are brimming with alleged sexual predators—more of a hurried Band-aid than an actual solution.
While NBC has been careful to be vague about the incident in question, a source revealed to Page Six that Lauer allegedly “sexually assaulted” a female staffer during the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. That staffer lodged the complaint to NBC on Monday and as a result of that specific complaint, Lauer was summarily fired. Per the source, “There have been rumors about Matt having affairs with subordinates at NBC for years, but those were believed to be consensual. This incident in Rio was not.”
Lauer’s firing is the latest in a seemingly-ceaseless string of men in power whose actions as sexual predators, harassers, and assaulters are being brought to light.
Update 9:30 A.M: A previous version of this post stated that the alleged sexual assault took place during the Rio Olympics in 2016. Per a correction issued in Page Six, the alleged incident took place during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Update: 5:52 P.M: According to a report from the New York Times, two other women have come forward to NBC with complaints about Lauer’s behavior.
One complaint came from a former employee who said Mr. Lauer had summoned her to his office in 2001 and then had sex with her. She provided her account to The New York Times but declined to let her name be used.
She told the Times that she felt helpless because she didn’t want to lose her job, and that she didn’t report the encounter at the time because she felt ashamed.
Editor’s Note: Page Six removed the quote from the source in their article after issuing a correction stating that the alleged incident happened in Sochi, not Rio.