NBC’s Matt Lauer Fired for ‘Inappropriate Workplace Behavior’: What Women Colleagues Have to Say
This morning started on shaky ground at the “Today” Show set, as news was announced that long-time anchor Matt Lauer had been terminated for complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb broke the news at the start of the show, visibly affected by the emotion of it all: “This is a sad morning at Today and at NBC News,” Guthrie said, “We just learned this moments ago just this morning. As I’m sure you can imagine we are devastated.”
“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.”
Guthrie read this statement that had just been released by NBC News Chairman Andy Lack:
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. 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.
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.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
Kotb said she and Guthrie “were both woken up with the news, kind of predawn, and we’re trying to process it and trying to make sense of it.”
Guthrie told Today viewers, “We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. 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 added, “But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important. It’s long overdue and it must resolve in workplaces where all women, all people, feel respected.”
Guthrie later opened the 8 a.m. hour with a report from Stephanie Gosk that stated an NBC News spokesperson said the accuser described “inappropriate sexual behavior” throughout 2014 and that because of the seriousness of the accusations, together with the information that it might not be an isolated incident, NBC decided to terminate Lauer’s contract.
When opening her 9 a.m. Megyn Kelly Today show, host Megyn Kelly said of Lauer, “This one does hit close to home.” A friend of hers and someone who was a support during her transition to NBC News, Kelly recognized the anguish seen on her Today show colleagues’ faces when they also reported on the news. “But when this happens what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come forward, and it’s a terrifying thing to do,” she said.
“We are in the middle of a sea change in this country. An empowerment revolution,” Kelly added. “As painful as this moment is for so many here at NBC today, at CBS earlier this month, at Fox News over the last year, in Hollywood this fall, 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.”
Recalling her own experience at Fox News, Kelly promised to stay on the story, “In my experience, a news organization is bigger than any one person. They all face challenges, they all stumble. But the good ones stay standing and forge forward, fulfilling their core mission: Journalism.”
Co-anchor Kathie Lee Gifford called the day a “very, very sad” one at NBC.
“I’m grappling with, should I even share something? But I guess I really should,” added Gifford. “I don’t feel that Matt has betrayed us in any way at all but when I found out that my husband had betrayed me, you question your own judgment. You say, ‘Was everything a lie?’ And I think we have to very much fight against that, that the man we know and adored was the man we loved and adored and continue to. I texted him this morning and said, ‘Matt, I adore you. No person is perfect in this world. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God is what scripture says. And what we need now is forgiveness and mercy for one another.”
She also sent her love to the woman who came forward and to Lauer’s family, and ends with saying, “Only God can heal it. There’s no bad time to reach out for God…we are all so broken. And we need Someone to put us back together. It’s possible, it is so possible, I’m living proof of it.”
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: November 29, 2017