The website Variety published an explicit account Wednesday of alleged sexual harassment by former NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer. This comes a few hours after the network fired Lauer over claims of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Variety’s report is the result of a two-month-long investigation that includes dozens of interviews with current and former staffers.
According to the story, multiple women took complaints about Lauer’s behavior to the executive level, but they “fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today.'”
“They protected the sh*t out of Matt Lauer,” a former reporter told Variety.
From the story:
According to producers, Lauer — who had considerable editorial clout over which stories would ultimately air on “Today” — would frequently dismiss stories about cheating husbands. However, in the wake of Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein, Lauer had to keep up with a national conversation about sexual harassment. It often made for awkward moments on TV for staff members who knew about Lauer’s private interactions.
Lauer apparently grew more comfortable with his status at the company:
Lauer, who was paranoid about being followed by tabloid reporters, grew more emboldened at 30 Rockefeller Center as his profile rose following Katie Couric’s departure from “Today” in 2006. His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.
Some specific incidents include him quizzing female producers about their sex lives:
As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.
On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.
He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f**k, marry or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.
In a statement Monday evening, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said the complaint that led to Lauer’s termination was his first in over 20 years yet hinted it may not be the last:
Full Andy Lack memo on Matt Lauer: pic.twitter.com/RU6Br7vaZZ
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) November 29, 2017
“We were … presented with reason to believe that this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack said.