This piece was updated after publication with more information.
Update, November 30: The New York Times published a report on Wednesday that included additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Matt Lauer while he was at NBC. One former employee accused the fired Today show anchor of sexually assaulting her in his office in 2001. Other former staff members described the atmosphere at the Today show as a “boys’ club,” where sexually inappropriate comments were commonplace. All the former employees in the Times piece—including the woman who accused Lauer of sexual assault—spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Following the Times report and the exposé published earlier on Wednesday by Variety, Lauer responded for the first time. In a statement Thursday morning, he apologized for his behavior, though he also said some of the allegations against him were “untrue” and “mischaracterized.”
“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,” he said. “I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”
Here is Matt Lauer’s full statement pic.twitter.com/ht1CLzMU6S— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 30, 2017
Variety’s exposé on Lauer detailed sexual harassment allegations from current and former employees at NBC News. Lauer reportedly gave one colleague a sex toy with an “explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her” and exposed his penis to another coworker. When she refused to do anything with him, Lauer reportedly “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.”
Several sources told Variety that Lauer’s behavior wasn’t a secret at NBC News. According to the story, Lauer’s private office was even equipped with a “button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up.” The alleged harassment also extended to Lauer’s assignments outside of 30 Rock, including during his Olympic coverage with NBC.
On Wednesday morning, Today show host Savannah Guthrie and fellow anchor Hoda Kotb announced that Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior.” The hosts shared a memo to staff from NBC News president Andrew Lack, who said the company received a detailed complaint from a coworker about Lauer’s alleged behavior on Monday night.
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior 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,” Lack’s memo stated.
Full Andy Lack memo on Matt Lauer: pic.twitter.com/RU6Br7vaZZ— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) November 29, 2017
Guthrie, Lauer’s longtime cohost on the Today show, said she was informed about his firing moments before going on air. “As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this,” she said. “And I will tell you right now we do not know more than what I just shared with you, but we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists. I’m sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come. And we promise we will share that with you.”
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. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 29, 2017
Lauer, who has coanchored the Today show since 1997, joins a growing list of media figures—including Charlie Rose and NBC News’ Mark Halperin—who have been fired in the past couple of months over sexual misconduct allegations.