Viewers who tuned into the “Today” show Wednesday for their morning dose of Matt Lauer got quite a surprise.
Instead of Lauer, Hoda Kotb was sitting alongside co-host Savannah Guthrie, who proceeded to drop the bombshell that NBC fired Lauer late Monday night after the network received what it called in a statement “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer.”
Guthrie read the statement from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, which continued:
While it is the first complaint about his behavior in over twenty years at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
That “reason” probably came in the form of investigations by Variety and The New York Times. Both outlets were reportedly working on stories detailing Lauer's history of sexual harassment of co-workers. The colleague who met with NBC executives Monday night to present her complaint had also reportedly been talking to the Times.
Had NBC long ago confronted the allegations that have been swirling around Lauer for years, though, the network could have saved itself this headache. Instead, as Brian Stelter reported in his book on morning TV back in 2013, the network stood by while Lauer and others perpetuated a “boys club” atmosphere at “Today” that ended the NBC careers of talented female anchors:
[T]he plot again swirls around the show's ratings slide after a legendary run atop its rival Good Morning America, and the panicked pushing out of co-host Ann Curry less than a year after she took the spot she'd been pining for. From where Curry was sitting, a savage tone behind the scenes and a complicit Matt Lauer were her undoing.
Much like the allegations that ended Charlie Rose's career a couple of weeks ago, this reckoning seems long overdue. On Monday morning, Guthrie was obviously wrestling with the news:
“All we can say is 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. [...] 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?”
One feels for Guthrie. But again, these stories about Lauer have been floating around for years. It is hard to believe she never heard any of them.
Watch the segment below.