A few hours after news broke of Matt Lauer’s unceremonious firing from NBC News, Variety published its investigation into Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct. The allegations, all of which were provided to Variety anonymously, are truly awful. The worst detail by far is this: according to two of the women accusing Lauer of sexual assault, he had a button under his desk that locked the door from the inside, allowing him the “privacy” to “welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him.”
The button story, which is on par with the other disgusting abuses of power wrought by other bad men, is just one of many allegations presented in Variety’s reporting.
- During his tenure as co-host of Today, Lauer reportedly gave a woman colleague a sex toy, along with a note about “how he wanted to use it on her.”
- Another woman colleague recalls a time when she was “summoned” to Lauer’s office; he dropped his pants, showed her his penis, and then proceeded to chastise her for not engaging in a sex act.
- Lauer would, according to anonymous sources, ask women producers who they’d slept with, and engage his colleagues in a rousing game of “Fuck, Marry, Kill”—a thinly veiled-ruse for sharing which of his colleagues he’d like to sleep with.
Lauer’s reported sexual misconduct followed a pattern—as a public figure and the prize of NBC’s family-friendly news empire, any whiff of public-facing scandal for Lauer would be disastrous. Therefore, Lauer focused his attentions and ministrations within the company.
Several employees recall how he paid intense attention to a young woman on his staff that he found attractive, focusing intently on her career ambitions. And he asked the same producer to his hotel room to deliver him a pillow, according to sources with knowledge of the interaction.
This was part of a pattern. According to multiple accounts, independently corroborated by Variety, Lauer would invite women employed by NBC late at night to his hotel room while covering the Olympics in various cities over the years. He later told colleagues how his wife had accompanied him to the London Olympics because she didn’t trust him to travel alone.
Producers told Variety that Lauer would dismiss stories about infidelity and cheating husbands, using his clout to squash stories as he saw fit. Lauer’s position at the company also allowed him to abuse his power; several of the women interviewed for Variety’s story said that their complaints to network executives fell on deaf ears, in part because the advertising dollars attached to Today were too valuable to jeopardize.
However, as the infidelities of famous men in media and other positions of power came to national attention, Lauer had to find a way to address these issues. Consider his interview with BIll O’Reilly in September, six months after O’Reilly’s dismissal from Fox. O’Reilly had ample time to try and save face, promote his book, and grovel for forgiveness. He was given a chance by a man who, less than two months later, would find himself in similar shoes.
Read the full report here.