They’re dropping like flies. Just a month after NBC News axed veteran journalist Mark Halperin for inappropriate sexual behavior, the network has announced the firing of one of its biggest stars, Matt Lauer — that friendly face America has woken up to on the Today show since the 1990s.
Wednesday morning, Lauer’s co-hosts Savanah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb somberly began the show reading a letter from NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack about the sudden firing Tuesday evening which stated:
“Dear colleagues, on Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. 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.
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender. We are deeply saddened by this turn of events, but we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
An emotional Guthrie said it was a “sad day” and added, “We just learned this moments ago, just this morning. As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this.”
Though Guthrie and Kotb indicated knowing nothing about the specifics of what happened, Page Six reports that the allegations include Lauer assaulting a female staffer during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The victim who came forward supposedly has “compelling” evidence that there are others, as well.
Various outlets, including The New York Times and Variety, had been investigating this story for some time, with New York magazine and HuffPost writer Yashar Ali adding, “I, and other reporters, have been aware of several women who have come forward privately in the past few months ...even before Weinstein. They weren’t willing to go public though...they were terrified of Matt.”
Variety reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister said, “I had been working on a Matt Lauer story for months and NBC was aware. 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.”
So, another case of “everyone knew.”
And as far as Lask ensuring NBC’s top priority is creating a safe atmosphere for employees, Ali said these women had “the fear of god” put into them by Lauer, who had “relationships with reporters outside NBC that he cultivated just for this purpose. They knew that.”
“Lauer is among the worst I've heard about,” Ali added on Twitter. “Not in terms of the kind of misconduct but the way in which he manipulated these women into silence. It's evil, frightening stuff.”
Of course, the online shaming piled up quickly, and directly from the top. President Trump dropped this bomb on Twitter, going after Lauer and Lask:
Trump didn't stop there:
Wow, we can still hear that one ringing!
And then came the old clips that after viewed in the updated context, seem wildly different for Lauer:
Katie Couric in 2012 gave her biggest pet peeve about Lauer pinching her butt "a lot:"
Also put into new context is the reason Lauer’s wife filed for divorce in 2006 (but later withdrew), citing behavior that was “cruel and inhumane.” Perhaps former Today anchor Ann Curry experienced some of that when tensions with Lauer forced her out of a job in 2012.
Can we all agree that NBC News makes terrible hiring decisions?