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
Matt Lauer, an anchor of “Today” for two decades, was fired by NBC News after a detailed complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace that took place during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The accusation also noted that the alleged behavior continued after the games, NBC News confirmed.
“Today” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were emotional as they announced Lauer’s firing Wednesday, telling viewers at the top of the show that they were processing his departure but didn’t yet know all of the details.
Good Getty photo of Savannah and Hoda on the Today set after breaking the news about Matt Lauer pic.twitter.com/LPMgtArYrm
— David Mack (@davidmackau) November 29, 2017
In a memo to employees sent Wednesday morning, NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the complaint, which was made by a female colleague of Lauer’s, prompted a serious review and represented a “clear violation of our company’s standards.”
Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer, 59, for his behavior since he took over as anchor of the show in 1997, but there was “reason to believe” it may not have been an isolated incident.
“Our 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,” Lack said.
Ari Wilkenfeld, who said he’s the lawyer for the woman who accused Lauer, told The New York Times that he and his client met Monday evening with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Department.
“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,” Wilkenfeld said. “While I am encouraged by NBC’s response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing.”
Guthrie, who joined Lauer at the anchor desk in 2012, said she was “heartbroken” for both him and the “brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their stories to tell.”
“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,” she said.
Kotb added that she has known Lauer as a friend and colleague for 15 years and “it’s hard to reconcile what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day.”
Guthrie said it can be difficult to make sense of accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior against a longtime colleague.
“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected.”
Lauer’s departure comes in the wake of sexual misconduct complaints lodged in recent months against high-profile men working in entertainment, politics and media.