Matt Lauer was both praised and reviled following his ouster from NBC’s “Today” show, painting a Jekyll & Hyde portrait of the news host, who could be warm and endearing to some women, and prey on others for sex against their will.
No one appeared to be more stunned by the scandal than his co-host, Savannah Guthrie.
She teared up when she read NBC News’ statement yesterday (Nov. 29), dragging Hoda Kotb on the air with her for moral support.
There may have been a more cynical reason behind NBC’s swift action against Lauer. Both The New York Times and Variety were working on exposes, detailing Lauer’s behavior.
Matt Lauer Statement on Misconduct Claims “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I’ve caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I’m 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 the patience and grace.”
In any event, Kotb’s appearance also gave the distinct impression that more than one woman at NBC was supporting the fired host.
“As I’m sure you can imagine we are devastated and we are still processing all of this,” Guthrie said. “For the moment, all we can say is we are heartbroken.”
She then called Lauer her “dear, dear friend and partner.”
“He has been loved by many, many people here,” she continued
But that image is far different from allegations by several women who were allegedly preyed upon by Lauer over more than 20 years.
Lauer, who is married with three children, was known for making lewd comments to staffers, and could lock his office door with a button under his desk once he had a victim cornered, Variety reported.
Lauer reportedly once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present along with a note describing how he wanted to use it on her, according to the trade newspaper.
Lauer also allegedly had sex with a female staffer in his office against her will. She was so shocked, she passed out and required the assistance of a nurse afterward. Yet, such was Lauer’s position she never reported the attack.
He also invited another woman into his office and allegedly flashed his penis at her. He supposedly reprimanded her for refusing to have sex.
Finally, it took another current NBC employee to complain about inappropriate sexual conduct to trigger his ouster.
The woman said Lauer started sexually harassing her on a trip to the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months afterward.
Guthrie said she was also heartbroken for the “brave colleague who came forward to tell her story.”
The uproar over widespread sexual misconduct in Hollywood, the media and government has already claimed the careers of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, broadcaster Charlie Rose, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K. and other executives in positions of power.
Of course, Donald Trump stands as the one of the worst offenders. He’s been accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault by more than a dozen women and was captured in the now infamous Billy Bush audio tape bragging about it.
Democratic Rep. John Conyers, 88, is also facing multiple sexual misconduct allegations and two more women came forward today to accuse Sen. Al Franken of groping them, bringing the number to five.
Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, is also facing allegations he trolled the local shopping mall for teenagers while in his 30s and sexually assault a 14-year-old girl.
In the latest development, Rap mogul Russell Simmons announced he is stepping down from his companies following sex assault allegations by writer Jenny Lumet, the daughter of famed Hollywood Director Sidney Lumet.
She claimed the Def Jam co-founder of forcing her to have sex in 1991, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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