Summary: Matt Lauer said he is “embarrassed” and “ashamed” by the accusations that he is a sexual harasser.
On Wednesday, “Today” show host Matt Lauer was fired by NBC for sexual misconduct at work, and hours later, horrific new details of his alleged inappropriate behavior surfaced. Lauer addressed the claims, apologizing but also stating that there were some portions that were misconstrued.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” Lauer said in his statement. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”
Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie told viewers on Wednesday that Lauer was let go. NBC had made the decision on Tuesday night after an accuser, who had been talking to the New York Times, had presented her case to the NBC legal department and human resources on Monday.
Details of Lauer’s alleged misconduct were not disclosed at first, but later in the day, Variety published an expose that they had been working on for months. In the article, sources said that Lauer had a button in his office that allowed him to lock the door from his desk so that he could trap women inside. Anonymous sources also said that Lauer showed women his penis unsolicited at work and had frequent affairs with colleagues even though he is married.
Lauer, 59, co-anchored the “Today” show for over two decades, and he reportedly earned a salary of $25 million a year.
NBC News’ Stephanie Gosk said that there may be as many as eight victims of Lauer, but none have revealed their identity publicly.
NBC News chairman Andy Lack said that there was only one complaint filed against Lauer during his tenure, and that complaint resulted in his firing. Accusers who spoke to Variety, however, said that Lauer’s behavior was reported but that nothing was ever done.
Former NBC president Jeff Zucker said that he had never heard negative rumors about Lauer in the 25 years that he has known him. This sentiment was similar to those that some of his current and former colleagues such as Kathie Lee Griffon expressed.
“To my knowledge, there was never a complaint about Matt,” Zucker said. “There was never a suggestion of that kind of deviant/predatory behavior not even a whisper of it. Nothing like that.”
The New York Police Department told USA Today that they are not investigating Lauer for any criminal conduct.
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