On Wednesday morning, NBC’s hit show, “Today,” announced that reporter Matt Lauer had been fired for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace after a female employee issued a complaint against him.
The family-based morning talk show is highly-rated and very profitable, with co-anchor Matt Lauer at the center as the face of the program since 1997. The reveal of his condemnable behavior came as a surprise to many viewers, but not necessarily to those who worked with Lauer.
Various news outlets, including the New York Times and Variety, had been investigating Lauer’s sexual misconduct before the announcement. In fact, Ramin Setoodeh, Variety’s bureau chief, took to Twitter to say that he, along with his colleague, had been doing reporting about serious sexual allegations against Lauer for two months. The New York Times also reported that they had been in contact with the accuser, who had met with NBC officials in regards to the allegations.
Elizabeth Wagmeister, a colleague of Ramin Setoodeh, emphasized that NBC was aware of the reporting. She tweeted, “There are multiple women we’ve spoken to with far-ranging accusations against Lauer. The power of journalism has never been more evident with this cultural change.”
“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,” NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in response to the woman’s unreleased report. In his memo to the staff, Lack reiterated that Lauer’s behaviors had represented “a clear violation of our company’s standards.”
Lack also confirmed in a division-wide meeting with the staff later Wednesday morning that the inappropriate behavior occurred during Matt Lauer’s coverage of the Russian Winter Olympics back in 2014.
The exposure of men in high-power in media and Hollywood is nothing new in society anymore, which has recently been highlighted by the New York Times and the New Yorker’s investigation into film producer Harvey Weinstein and his sexual assault of a large number of women. Following Weinstein’s public condemnation was the punishment of multiple names in Hollywood, including journalists such as CBS’s Charlie Rose, NBC’s Mark Halperin, and NPR’s Michael Oreskes.
Lauer’s ex-colleague Savannah Guthrie was the one who delivered the news to the viewers, appearing visibly emotionally disturbed but remaining professional. She told the camera that the staff had found out about the news the same morning, and the impact was clearly still present.
She expressed heartbreak towards the news, saying, “And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell. We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks: How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that.”
Matt Lauer has yet to comment.
Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire