On the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 29, news broke that longtime “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer had been fired from NBC following complaints of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack sent a memo to “TODAY” staff in the early hours of Wednesday morning saying Lauer was terminated following a complaint by a colleague. In the memo, Lack wrote that Lauer’s behavior “represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standard. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Now that the allegations against Lauer are public knowledge, people within the world of journalism and news media are coming out of the woodwork and spilling the beans on what they knew about it — and it would appear that his alleged proclivities were an open secret.
Yashar Ali, a reporter who writes for The Huffington Post and New York Magazine, wrote on Twitter that he and others knew about Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct long before it became known to the public.
“I, and other reporters, have been aware of several women who have come forward privately in the past few months,” Ali wrote. “[E]ven before Weinstein. They weren’t willing to go public though…they were terrified of Matt.”
“Matt Lauer put the fear of god into these women,” Ali said in a follow-up tweet. “He had relationships with reporters outside NBC that he cultivated just for this purpose. They knew that.”
In a third tweet on the issue of how much he and others knew about Lauer’s behavior, Ali wrote “Lauer is among the worst I’ve heard about. Not in terms of the kind of misconduct but the way in which he manipulated these women into silence. It’s evil, frightening stuff.”
The New York Bureau Chief for Variety, Ramin Setoodeh, also chimed in on the subject of who knew what and when by admitting that he and another reporter had been working on a story about “serious sexual harassment allegations against Lauer.”
Matt Lauer was a veteran of NBC and “TODAY,” where he worked for more than 20 years. Lauer was reportedly one of the highest paid talents on the show, with an annual contract worth around $25 million, according to the Huffington Post.
In the beginning of the first post-Lauer “TODAY” broadcast, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb addressed Lauer’s absence.
“We just learned this moments ago. Just this morning. As I am sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this,” Guthrie started the broadcast after reading the official statement given by Lack.
“I’m sure we will be learning more details as the hours and days come. We promise we will share that with you. All we can say is we are heartbroken. I am heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is beloved by many people here. And, I am heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any women who have their own stories to tell,” Guthrie said.