In the latest of accusations of inappropriate behavior, longtime NBC “Today Show” anchor Matt Lauer has been fired after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. Several women have stepped forward to accuse Matt Lauer of sexual harassment or sexual assault. NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said, “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.”
Various news sources have reported that Lauer once gave a sex toy to a colleague along with a note about how he wanted to use it on her. Lauer is also accused of exposing himself to a colleague and reprimanding her when she rejected his advances. The New York Times reported that one former NBC employee was summoned by Lauer to his office in 2001 where he allegedly locked the door and sexually assaulted her.
Lauer, 59, who co-anchored the Today Show for more than 20 years, offered an apology, “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. 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. 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 their patience and grace.”
It has been reported that there are as many as eight accusers, though they have asked to remain anonymous. Several accusers have said they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears. NBC has denied this telling NBC News “current NBC News management was never made aware.”
An NBC spokesperson confirmed Lauer will not receive a payout for the rest of his contract. Lauer, who had just signed a contract last year that would keep him in the anchor chair through 2018, had a contract worth a reported $20 million. After firing Lauer, NBC News’ human resources department said they’re now sifting through Lauer’s emails in an effort to bring more justice to any colleagues who may have suffered in silence. NBC News president Noah Oppenheim promised swift action against anyone who may have known about sexually inappropriate behavior and didn’t report it.
Lauer’s first wife, Nancy Alspaugh, whom he was married to from 1981 to 1989, said she was shocked by the longtime “Today” host’s firing amid sexual misconduct claims, and she said called him one week ago to let him know she had been approached by a reporter working on an exposé about him. Alspaugh said the accusations against Lauer are shocking and out of character. “I think, for the people that really know him and really love him and they want to get the good stuff out. I want to get out the fact that he made a contribution to my nonprofit, that he helped me when my husband died. The selfless, giving part of him, which people tend to forget whenever this kind of a situation comes up. He would give you the shirt off his back if you really needed it. He did that for everybody. From the lowest person on set to, you know, the highest powers. “