Matt Lauer, the high-profile “Today” show host finally got his comeuppance today. He was fired by NBC News boss Andy Lack for “inappropriate sexual behavior,” after being dogged for years by rumors that he was a major hoser.
That Matt, 59, would go down this way wasn’t really a matter of if, but a matter of when. He always seemed so invincible.
But the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal opened the floodgates, empowering women to come forward who have simmered in silence for years after being sexually assaulted or harassed by someone in a position of power.
In the realm of major sex scandals, such as the one sweeping the corridors of power in Hollywood, media and government, some claims are more specious than others.
But not in Matt’s case.
Lack said in a memo to staff that network had received “a detailed” complaint about Lauer Monday night (Nov. 26), according to The Washington Post.
“It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” the memo said.
To add insult to injury, Lack left it up to “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie to break the news to viewers.
“All we can say is we are heartbroken,” said Guthrie, close to tears. “I’m heartbroken. … How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”
Hmmmm… it was only a few years ago that Guthrie was the center of rumors she was having an affair with Matt, hotly denied by both.
Matt’s alleged sexual philandering last flared in 2014, The National Enquirer raised a red flag about his marriage to Dutch beauty Annette Roque.
Nils Fonteijn, a reported friend of Annette’s mother, Johanna, told the tabloid her parents worried that Matt was fooling around again.
“Dr. Struijk, who doesn’t often use vulgarities, told me: ‘[Matt’s] brain is in his dick,” Fonteijn said.
Annette filed for divorce in 2006 while she was pregnant with their third child, but the couple reconciled and have stayed together.
At the time, tabloids were claiming Lauer had an affair with Natalie Morales at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.
Despite all that, the complaint against Lauer was the first received by the network in more than 20 years at NBC News, Lack said in his memo.
But he noted: “We were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Lauer became co-host of the show with Katie Couric in 1997, following Bryant Gumbel’s departure. The show dominated the rankings for most of that time.
After Katie left, Matt became the franchise and the show’s ratings wins continued.
But all that changed in 2013 when NBC botched the firing of popular “Today” show castmember Ann Curry. Lauer was allegedly the catalyst for the move. and became the network’s fall guy when a backlash ensued.
“Today” has been a neck-and-neck ratings race with ABC’s “Good Morning America” ever since, with GMA often coming out on top.
In Matt’s departure, no details were released involving his alleged transgressions and so far NBC has managed to keep the explosive charges bottled up.
There’s no doubt, however, that he is the highest-profile media figure to take a fall, if not the most surprising.
Only last week, CBS’s highly regarded news anchor, Charlie Rose, was fired. Eight women told The Washington Post that he had acted inappropriately toward them over a period of years.
In another irony, politics appears to be the last refuge for serial sexual misconduct.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or sexual assault. He was even caught on an audio feed bragging about assaulting women and hitting on them for sex.
Yet, he squeaked into office, winning the electoral college by a mere 88,000 votes across three states, amid allegations his campaign colluded with Russia to influence voters.
In the height of hypocrisy, Trump Tweeted about Lauer’s demise this morning and used the fiasco to take a dig at NBC.
“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,’” he wrote. “But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”
Trump claims all 16 women who have accused him are liars. Summer Zervos, a former Celebrity Apprentice contestant, has sued him for defamation for calling her a liar.
Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama is also facing allegations he molested a 14-year-old girl when he was a 30-something county prosecutor.
Eight other women have come forward to say the were harassed or assault while teens, and locals say Moore was banned from the shopping mall for soliciting sex from teens.
Yet, he’s in a dead heat with his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, with the election two weeks away.
Lauer’s current two-year contract was set to expire at the end of 2018. He was reportedly making $25 million a year, according to The Post.
No word yet, on his replacement.