Matt Lauer fired from 'Today' due to 'inappropriate sexual behavior' in the workplace one of the victims is Ann Curry
On the same day the giant Christmas tree is being lit outside NBC studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City, the network dumped one of its biggest stars.
“Today” show co-host Matt Lauer was fired Wednesday due to inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, an incident "Today" honchos said they learned about just two days ago.
"This is a sad morning here at 'Today' and at NBC News," Guthrie said before reading a note from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack.
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment and one of the victim is Ann Curry.
"Dear colleagues, on Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer," Lack's statement read. "It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment."
The statement said this is the first complaint regarding Lauer's behavior the company has received "in the over 20 years he's been at NBC News."
"We were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," the statement said.
Matt Lauer's firing from NBC unleashes Twitter torrent
Lack said NBC's "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.""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."
An emotional Guthrie admitted "we just learned this moments ago" and said the "Today" team is "devastated and we are still processing all of this."
"All we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he 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."
Kotb said she and and Guthrie "were both woken up with the news, kind of predawn, and we're trying to process it and trying to make sense of it."
Guthrie said NBC will be "covering this story as reporters" and will share more details "in the hours and days to come."
Lauer firing puts harsh new focus on NBC News boss Andy Lack after Trump tweet
At the begining of the 8 a.m. hour, Stephanie Gosk reiterated the news of Lauer's firing and told viewers the NBC staffer had complained about inappropriate behavior from Lauer throughout 2014, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Meanwhile, The New York Post, citing a source, reported an incident occurred during the coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The details could not immediately be confirmed.
The "Today" show anchors weren't the only ones reacting to the surprising development. President Trump also chimed in on Lauer's firing on Twitter as the news broke.
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!
Lauer married Annette Roque in 1998. She filed for divorce in 2006 and accused the anchor of "cruel and inhumane" behavior before withdrawing her petition one month later after reaching a private agreement. They have 3 children.
According to Page Six, Lauer and Roque live separate lives.
You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.
Lauer’s “Double Life”: Inside NBC, the Network Is Trying to Expunge the Lauer Era
NBC executives have moved swiftly and adroitly to clean up Lauer’s mess. The question that remains, however, is if they are in for any surprises.
By Friday evening, for the employees of NBC News and sister network MSNBC, it was about time for a drink. At P.J. Clarke’s, near Lincoln Center, Morning Joe’s Willie Geist was co-hosting his annual holiday party for friends and colleagues. Blocks away, at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel, Morning Joe and Today regular Donny Deutsch threw himself a 60s-themed 60th birthday where MSNBC President Phil Griffin and on-air talent Hoda Kotb, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and John Heilemann chitchatted beneath blown up photos of Raquel Welch and Ursula Andress. The words “F*%# the sixties” were emblazoned in black script upon the red acrylic dance floor.
There were conversations regarding the foibles of Mike Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and longtime ally, who had pleaded guilty that morning to a charge of lying to the F.B.I., and was now cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation. But much of the attention was focused inward. Two days earlier, after all, NBC News had shocked the broadcasting business by abruptly firing Matt Lauer, the $25-million man at the center of its half-billion dollar Today show franchise, some 36 hours after a former employee accused him of sexual misconduct. At Geist’s party, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie was seen chatting with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, whose former co-host, Charlie Rose, had recently, and just as stunningly, been felled by similar accusations.
Lauer’s fall from NBC precipitated seismic convulsions throughout 30 Rock. In the wake of his dismissal, reports in Variety and The New York Times described an alleged pattern of behavior that was, at best, “inappropriate,” and, at worst, downright predatory—an unwanted sex-toy gift; summoning a female employee to his office and promptly dropping his pants in front of her; an aggressive sexual encounter that allegedly left one woman passed out on the floor of Lauer’s office in need of medical attention. Suddenly NBC found itself at the white-hot center of a cultural reckoning that had already claimed the careers and reputations of powerful media and entertainment figures ranging from Harvey Weinstein and Rose to Louis C.K. and its own Mark Halperin. As the story unfolded, media insiders began speculating about whether any key executives knew anything about Lauer’s behavior during his 20-odd-year tenure; the network’s decision to pass on Ronan Farrow’s investigation of Weinstein was re-litigated, too.
While Lauer issued a statement expressing “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused,” NBC News went into crisis mode in the hope of containing the incident. NBC insisted that its top managers were unaware of Lauer’s alleged transgressions; the network also announced a thorough review of its workplace culture and promised, in the words of network chairman Andy Lack, to “share what we’ve learned, no matter how painful, and act on it.” For employees of NBC News and MSNBC, it was all a lot to process, and by Friday night, they were surely ready to blow off some steam. At P.J. Clarke’s, where Brzezinski, Scarborough, and Heilemann also were in attendance, there was beer and bar food for all, plus a band playing holiday jingles. At the Oak Room, Comedian Susie Essman roasted Deutsch and gently poked fun of Scarborough’s interview style. Guthrie, Today regular Jenna Bush Hager, senior producer Libby Leist, and MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle posed, all smiles, outside of Lincoln Center, across the street from Geist’s party, and posted it to Instagram with “#girlpower” affixed to the end of the caption.
A week after Lauer’s termination, NBC’s efforts to stabilize the situation appear to have worked—at least thus far. Unlike in the cases of Weinstein or even Al Franken, where revelations unfolded across manifold news cycles lasting weeks and even months, NBC appeared to endure its beating in a single, horrid day. Lack, who was brought back to the network partly to manage the fallout from the Brian Williams scandal, has demonstrably put his considerable experience as a crisis manager to work in the post-Lauer era. In the past week, top-level managers, including Lack, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, and editorial senior vice president Janelle Rodriguez, have hosted nearly 60 H.R.-oriented meetings with small groups of employees in order to provide reassurance and, potentially, to get ahead of any other possible scandals that could be lurking beneath the surface.
The question of who knew what, and when, has been raised at these confabs, according to people with knowledge of them. In the main, however, these caucuses have served to reinforce executives’ hopes that employees will report any sort of improper workplace behavior in the wake of the Lauer affair. “It’s like Spotlight,” one senior staffer said recently, referring to the 2015 movie about The Boston Globe reporters wading through the Catholic Church sexual abuse cover-up. “But there was definitely a sense that things were being handled.” We’ve learned that NBC brass, as part of its review, has begun conducting interviews internally pertaining to Lauer’s behavior, and that they’re bringing in an outside firm to do in-person harassment training.
Some inside 30 Rock felt at least a little “spooked,” as an NBC journalist put it, by Donald Trump’s tweet last week encouraging his 44.2 million followers to “Check out Andy Lack’s past!” But the dozen or so NBC sources we spoke with for this article agreed the initial speculation about whether the Lauer scandal might metastasize into a situation that could cost Lack or Oppenheim their jobs—similar to how things played out in the wake of the allegations and internal investigation at Fox News, after which co-president Bill Shine left the network and longtime Fox News legal counsel Dianne Brandi, several months later, took a voluntary leave of absence—has since tempered. People saw how quickly NBC News acted, at a great cost to the network, and insiders seem to be taking leadership at its word that the transgressions leading to Lauer’s defenestration were previously unknown at the highest levels of the organization. “If people stop and think about it,” a senior journalist inside the company said, “it’s not surprising a lot of people didn’t know, because it was all done in secret. Matt’s a very organized guy and very adept at leading that kind of double life.”
It also certainly hasn’t yet hurt that the news division, in the Trump era, has been minting money. And while the scandal took a sledgehammer to Today’s image, there was no shortage of viewers tuning in to gawk at the wreckage. Incredibly, Lauer’s fall turned into a ratings win. Last week, for the first time in three months, Today was the most-watched morning-news show, handily beating out its rivals in the week’s overall ratings with more than a 12 percent increase in total viewers from a week earlier. On Wednesday alone—the day Guthrie announced Lauer’s firing on air—5.74 million viewers tuned into Today, up from the 4.48 million and 4.21 million who watched the two days prior. The streak continued throughout the rest of the week.
Those kinds of numbers won’t continue forever, however, and talk has naturally started shifting to who could fill the role that Lauer left behind. There has been some suggestion that the show may benefit from having a so-called “leading man” to fill Lauer’s void. But the names initially floated in the mix—including Today weekend co-host Craig Melvin, and Geist, who, along with his Morning Joe duties, hosts Sunday Today on the network—haven’t assuaged all naysaying observers. Others reject the idea that Today needs a man in its lineup at all. Daytime television is, of course, a female-driven demo and, at least for now, the show is up against another female duo—King and Norah O’Donnell—on CBS. Since Wednesday, Kotb has taken on the co-anchor chair, and several sources consider her a reliable contender to keep the spot permanently. “It’s a no-brainer. They 1,000 percent shouldn’t touch it. It’s working,” a television veteran said on Thursday. “If, in a few weeks, the ratings dip, then they can re-assess things and maybe bring on a few guys to see if there’s chemistry.” This person continued: “In this climate, having two women who people seem to really like is a good thing. They’d be idiots to touch that.”
Network morning television has already entered an age in which it feels like somewhat of a relic. The dollars are still there, but viewership has steadily declined. Undoubtedly, there will have to be a shift at some point, and a strategy for how to keep an audience engaged through a transition in which a show like Today is reimagined for a model that does not yet exist. Perhaps what is currently being tested is whether or not men are superfluous.
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