NBC News fires 'Today' co-host Matt Lauer
for sexual misconduct
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[November 30, 2017]
By Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC News fired Matt
Lauer, the popular host of its "Today" morning show, on Wednesday after
a female colleague accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior, the
network said, making him the latest rich and powerful man to be felled
by such accusations.
His termination sent shockwaves through U.S. morning television, where
Lauer has been a fixture since becoming a "Today" anchor in 1997 and
went on to become one of NBC's highest-paid personalities, earning $20
million a year.
The married 59-year-old news star was the latest public figure to be
embroiled in accusations of sexual misconduct that have recently struck
down high-profile men in entertainment, politics and media.
Just hours later, U.S. radio host Garrison Keillor said he had been
fired by Minnesota Public Radio over an accusation of inappropriate
The complaint made by an unnamed female colleague on Monday night was a
"clear violation" by Lauer of the company's standards, NBC News chairman
Andrew Lack said in a statement.
"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," Lack said.
The network issued a second statement in response to a report in the
Hollywood trade publication Variety that said several women had
complained to the network about Lauer's behavior.
"We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News
management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s
conduct," an NBC spokeswoman said.
Lauer's agent Ken Lindner did not respond to requests for comment.
The news was announced by "Today" co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda
Kotb at the start of the talk show, a staple of U.S. morning television
for more than six decades that, NBC says, averages more than 4 million
"We just learned this moments ago just this morning," Guthrie said,
visibly shaken. "As I'm sure you can imagine we are devastated."
Lack's statement did not say who made the accusation, but promised that
NBC News would cover Lauer's firing in "as transparent a manner as we
The woman had met with New York Times reporters on Monday before meeting
with NBC's human resources and legal departments that evening to share
her allegation, the Times reported, saying that she said she was not
ready then to publicly identify herself.
Her Washington-based lawyer, Ari Wilkenfeld, said the meeting with NBC
officials lasted several hours.
[to top of second column]
Host Matt Lauer pauses during a break while filming NBC's "Today"
show at Rockefeller Center in New York, U.S., May 3, 2013.
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
"In fewer than 35 hours, NBC investigated and removed Mr. Lauer,"
Wilkenfeld wrote in a statement. "Our impression at this point is that
NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with
credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace."
The complaint said the sexual misconduct occurred while Lauer and
the female colleague were covering the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics in
Russia and continued after the Games, NBC News reporter Stephanie
Gosk said on air.
An NBC representative did not respond to a request for more details.
Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable television company, owns
NBCUniversal. Its shares rose 2.4 percent to $37.13.
"Today" earned $509 million in advertising revenue last year, more
than any of its competitors, New York-based analysts Kantar Media
Lauer joined "Today" in 1994 and has interviewed presidents George
Bush and Barack Obama and broadcast from seven Olympic Games. He had
been due to join his co-hosts for the nationally-televised lighting
of the giant Christmas tree at New York City's Rockefeller Center on
According to Fortune Magazine, he signed a two-year deal in 2016
that would pay him $20 million per year.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded with messages on Twitter
calling for some of Lauer's colleagues to be fired too, and adding
to his recent attacks against U.S. news outlets for their reporting
on his administration.
"Wow," Trump wrote about Lauer. "But when will the top executives at
NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News."
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-Republican candidate
Trump was accused by 13 women who publicly said that in the past he
had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, the
Washington Post reported. Trump denied the accusations.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen; Additional reporting
by Susan Heavey in Washington, Jessica Toonkel in New York, Supantha
Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by
Alden Bentley, Howard Goller and Nick Zieminski)
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