Matt Lauer sacked over sex complaint

Reuters
NBC News on Wednesday said it has sacked popular "Today" show host Matt Lauer after receiving a complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
Reuters
Reuters

Host Matt Lauer pauses during a break while filming NBC's "Today" show at Rockefeller Center in New York, US, May 3, 2013.

NBC News on Wednesday said it has sacked popular “Today” show host Matt Lauer after receiving what it called a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.

After serious review, the complaint received on Monday night represented “a clear violation” of the company’s standards, said NBC News chairman Andrew Lack.

“As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” he said. “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.”

The news was announced by “Today” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb at the start of the talk show, a staple of US morning television for more than six decades that averages more than 4 million viewers.

“This is a sad morning at ‘Today’ and at NBC News,” said Guthrie. “We just learned this moments ago just this morning. As I’m sure you can imagine we are devastated.”

Lack did not say who made the accusation. “We are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” he said. “But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”

During Wednesday’s show, NBC News reporter Stephanie Gosk said the colleague had accused Lauer of serious misconduct “throughout 2014.”

Fellow NBC News anchor Willie Geist said he was stunned, especially given Lauer’s role.

“Matt Lauer is the most powerful person at NBC News, arguably,” he said, referring to Lauer as a friend and mentor who he said had always led by example on the show’s set.

Comcast Corp, the largest US cable television company, owns NBCUniversal. 

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for some of Lauer’s colleagues to also be fired.

“Wow,” Trump said on Twitter about Lauer’s sacking. “But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!” he added, without further explanation.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump was accused by 13 women who publicly said that he had physically touched them inappropriately in some way.

Trump denied the accusations, accused rival Democrats and the media of a smear campaign, and went on to win the election.

Since Lauer took over the anchor’s chair in 1997, “Today” has been dominating morning show ratings.

According to Fortune magazine, Lauer signed a two-year deal last year that would pay him US$20 million per year. He joined “Today” in January 1994.

There were reports that journalists from several news outlets had been investigating complaints against Lauer. Two Variety reporters said they had been working for months on a story about several women’s allegations of sexual harassment by Lauer.



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