NBC Fires 'Today' Show Co-Host Matt Lauer Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

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Developing: NBC has fired its leading morning news anchor Matt Lauer over sexual harassment allegations, the network’s president for news said in a memo to staff on Wednesday. 

NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said the accusation against Laurer by a colleague was a "clear violation of our company's standards."

Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer, 59, since he took over as anchor of the show in 1997, but there was "reason to believe" it wasn't an isolated incident.

Mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Variety dropped a story on its own two-month-long investigation. A key finding of the piece is that Lauer's sexually-predatory behavior was no secret at NBC News. Surely, one concludes, not all the women at NBC could possibly be so shocked over Matt Lauer's alleged behavior. 

It began with the button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from inside without getting up, two accusers told Variety. Gone was the fear of someone walking in on Lauer while he was doing his business. What happened next is every bit as gross as the Charlie Rose allegations. 

According to Variety, Lauer allegedly sexually harassed several female colleagues, including an instance in which he “summoned a . . . female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis,” then  reprimanding the “visibly shaken” employee for “not engaging in a sexual act.” Three women who identified themselves to Variety as victims of Lauer’s sexual harassment, coupled with dozens of NBC staffers past and present told other stories about NBC's big star, including gifting a female colleague with a sex toy (complete with an “explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her”), inviting young female employees to his hotel room while on assignment covering the Olympics, asking female producers about their sex partners and "offering to trade names" and playing "fuck, marry or kill" with staffers. Lauer was often open about which of his co-stars he'd prefer to sleep with.

And it seems that the married Lauer -- who maintains a distant relationship with his wife -- had an insatiable sexual appetite. 

Women at NBC say they complained to NBC executives about Lauer's behavior, but their issues "fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding Today. "They protected the shit out of Matt Lauer," an unnamed NBC reporter said. 

Matt Lauer in 2016. Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Matt Lauer in 2016. Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

As the New York Times noted tonight, Matt Lauer was widely criticized for his uneven handling of presidential campaign interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There was no denying that Lauer was far more challenging of Clinton than Trump. 

An article by Brian Stelter in The New York Times Magazine in 2013 reported that Ann Curry, a former “Today” co-host, blamed Mr. Lauer, along with a “boys’ club’’ atmosphere behind the scenes at the show, for undermining her on the set, finally forcing her out that year.

Related: Why Matt Lauer's Firing Feels Different Politico