Matt Lauer, a 20-year veteran of NBC News, has been fired from the network after a colleague filed a complaint against him alleging sexual misconduct.
Lauer has been a co-host on the network’s morning news show, NBC News TODAY, since 1997. His firing is part of what fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie called a “national reckoning” for people who abuse their power in the workplace by making sexual advances on colleagues or subordinates.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Colleague Filed a Complaint Against Lauer on Monday, the Contents of Which Are Still Unknown
- “On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” said NBC Chairman Andy Lack in a statement released Wednesday morning. The nature of the allegations against Lauer are unclear.
“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,” added Lack.
2. NBC Said They Fired Lauer Because They Had “Reason to Believe It Was Not an Isolated Incident”
According to the statement released by Lack, the allegations were the first ever made against Lauer during his 20-year career with the network. However, Lack said that ” we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
That fact, coupled with the nature of the allegations against Lauer, which Lack stressed were “a clear violation of our company’s standards,” the network decided to terminate Lauer’s employment.
“We are still processing all of this. … We do not know more than what I just shared with you, but we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists,” Lauer’s former co-host Savannah Guthrie said on air this morning.
3. TODAY Show Co-Host Savannah Guthrie Made the Announcement Live on Wednesday Morning & the Team Was Visibly Upset On-Air
Guthrie began Wednesday morning’s show by informing the audience that NBC Chairman Andy Lack had just moments ago sent them a letter informing them of Lauer’s termination. “This is a sad morning here at TODAY and at NBC News,” said Guthrie as she struggled to maintain her composure.
Guthrie read the full text of Lack’s letter:
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. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.
“As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated,” said Guthrie. “We are heartbroken,” she added. “I’m heartbroken for Matt, he is my dear daer friend and my partner, an dhe is beloved by many many people here. 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.”
“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?” Guthrie said, saying that this dilemma is one that many have faced recently in light of the spate of allegations of sexual misconduct made against powerful national figures.
The New York Times reported that weatherman Al Roker was “visibly shaken” on air. “I’m still trying to process the news,” said Roker on air.
4. Lauer Was Reportedly Under Investigation by The New York Times in Recent Weeks
CNN reported this morning that more than one source had informed the news network that The New York Times had contacted them over the past few weeks as part of an investigation into Lauer.
The precise purpose of the investigation is unclear.
5. Lauer Has Three Children With Wife Annette Roque, a Former J Crew Model, & the Two Nearly Split in 2006
Lauer married former J Crew model Annette Roque in 1998. In 2006, while pregnant with the couple’s third child, Roque filed for divorce, claiming that she had endured “cruel and inhumane treatment” from Lauer. She also alleged that Lauer had a temper, saying that he harbored “extreme anger and hostility” for her.
“The conduct of defendant (Matt) so endangers the physical and mental well-being of plaintiff (Annette) so as to render it unsafe and improper for plaintiff to cohabit with defendant,” said Roque’s divorce lawyer Nancy Chemtob in the document. “Defendant has continuously and repeatedly given higher priority to … personal interests than to his family obligations to plaintiff, causing plaintiff to feel abandoned, isolated and alone in raising the parties’ children.”
The documents came to light in October 2014, eight years after the fact. According to Radar, the couple reconciled a month after the documents were filed and the two were happily married at the time the article was published, said a source.
In 2016, the marriage was also put to the test when rumors surfaced that Lauer was having an affair with fellow TODAY show co-host Natalie Morales. Both parties denied the affair, with Morales adding that the allegations were sexist and demeaning to her professional accomplishments.