NBC Fires 'Today' Host Matt Lauer Following Complaint Of 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior' NBC News has fired its biggest star today over an allegation of sexual harassment in the workplace. Matt Lauer had been with the "Today" show for more than 20 years. In a statement, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said that while there was only one complaint, the network had reason to believe the behavior was not an isolated incident.
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NBC Fires 'Today' Host Matt Lauer Following Complaint Of 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior'

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NBC Fires 'Today' Host Matt Lauer Following Complaint Of 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior'

NBC Fires 'Today' Host Matt Lauer Following Complaint Of 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior'

NBC Fires 'Today' Host Matt Lauer Following Complaint Of 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/567313506/567313507" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NBC News has fired its biggest star today over an allegation of sexual harassment in the workplace. Matt Lauer had been with the "Today" show for more than 20 years. In a statement, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said that while there was only one complaint, the network had reason to believe the behavior was not an isolated incident.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Two major media figures were fired today. Minnesota Public Radio cut all ties with Garrison Keillor for what it called inappropriate behavior - more on that elsewhere in the program. And NBC News announced this morning that it fired its longtime star Matt Lauer over accusations of sexual harassment. This afternoon, Variety published a report with complaints against Lauer from multiple women, saying he engaged in extremely inappropriate sexual behavior. NPR's David Folkenflik has this report.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: It was just months ago that Lauer was celebrated for his longevity at NBC News and his indispensability to the network.

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CARSON DALY: In honor of Matthew's 20 years as co-host on "Today"...

(LAUGHTER)

DALY: ...We're taking a look back at some of our most memorable Matt moments over the years. There's so many.

FOLKENFLIK: Now he's added to a formidable list of powerful men cut loose by their news outlets after credible allegations surfaced - Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly at Fox News, Mark Halperin at NBC, Mike Oreskes at NPR, Charlie Rose at CBS.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We just learned this moments ago just this morning. As I'm sure you can imagine, we are devastated, and we are still processing.

FOLKENFLIK: Here's Lauer's co-host Savannah Guthrie wrestling with emotion as she revealed the decision that had been announced just minutes earlier.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

GUTHRIE: For the moment, 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.

FOLKENFLIK: Now here's the breakdown of what we know so far. A younger colleague met with human resources officials early Monday evening with her lawyer. They cited Lauer's conduct at the 2014 Olympics in Russia. Lauer was the brightest network star there, paid more than $20 million a year because he is the core of the "Today" show, the economic engine that propels NBC's news division. Here he spoke to the NBC entertainment show "Access Hollywood" from Russia back in 2014.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD")

MATT LAUER: And so, yes, security is going to be mentioned. I think it's going to be enormously tight at the stadium tonight. I'm not particularly worried.

FOLKENFLIK: On Monday night, that younger colleague said he sexually harassed her there. The network says there was inappropriate sexual behavior and that the woman said the harassment continued. She has not been identified. A network source said there was a clear power imbalance between the two. NBC News executives were told yesterday morning, and NBC News chairman Andrew Lack decided to fire Lauer last night citing clear evidence and reason to believe this was not an isolated incident.

One wrinkle - the network was also aware that both Variety and The New York Times were reporting on Lauer's behavior toward women. This morning on the 9 a.m. edition of the "Today" show, new host Megyn Kelly spoke bluntly.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

MEGYN KELLY: We're in the middle of a sea change in this country, an empowerment revolution.

FOLKENFLIK: Kelly told viewers that Lauer was something of a friend and that he had welcomed her when she joined the network from Fox News. Yet she hailed the development.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

KELLY: It is a sign of progress, of women finding their voices, their courage and of the erosion of a shameful power imbalance that has been in place for far too long.

FOLKENFLIK: Kelly's reaction was flavored by her own experiences. Her accusations against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes in the summer of 2016 helped to ensure his dismissal by Fox. And she's been critical of how that network has handled a more sweeping sexual harassment crisis. Now NBC's handling of its biggest new star is under the microscope. Lauer had frequently shown up in the gossip pages both for allegations of extramarital affairs and for periodic clashes with others at the network, especially former co-host Ann Curry, who left tearfully.

This afternoon, Variety published an account based on interviews with several unnamed colleagues who said Lauer spoke constantly of sex, focused unwanted attention on younger female staffers, that he exposed himself to a co-worker and solicited a sexual act and even gave another colleague a sex toy and said he wanted to use it on her. His treatment of women on the air is coming in for greater review as well, including his unrelenting grilling of Hillary Clinton at a town hall in the lead-up to the presidential elections.

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LAUER: The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half and in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were secretary of state.

FOLKENFLIK: So, too, are the harder look at the tough stance he took toward Bill O'Reilly about the former Fox star's own accusations earlier this year. Lauer said, you don't let your No. 1 guy go unless you have information that you think makes him look culpable. Now Lauer, NBC's longtime No. 1 guy, has been cut loose himself. The New York Times is now reporting a former colleague's account that Lauer summoned her to his NBC office and had sex with her and that she feared for her job if she did not comply. Since announcing Lauer's firing, two more women have filed formal complaints with NBC. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

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