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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

Boys Club Member Susan Sarandon Tells Women Fighting For Equal Rights To 'Calm Down'

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I haven't even commented on Susan Sarandon's Guardian interview choice words on Hillary Clinton. Every day cannot be a day of rage. But none other than W Magazine does a short, brilliant summary of the SS/Guardian interview and reminds us why so many of us loathe this woman. If a guy was making these statements, he would be out of business.

Susan Sarandon, infamously, wasn't with her. She's also not joining the #MeToo movement, and she doesn't like to call herself a feminist (she's more of a humanist, thank you very much). Indeed, the ever outspoken Sarandon has a lot of contrarian opinions, as evidenced by her latest interview with The Guardian. She claims that things "wouldn’t be much smoother" if Hillary Clinton would have won the election, and that there were still a lot of women out there who must've been flattered to be sleeping with Harvey Weinstein and James Toback. Yet, oddly, she also admits to telling women fighting for the Equal Rights Movements to "calm down," and isn't afraid to tell her gay friends about which politicians really are pro-gay.

CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell & Gayle King Speak With Cold Realism About Charlie Rose's Suspension

'CBS This Morning' anchors Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King on a happier morning than Nov. 21, 2017, when the women condemned the actions of their co-host.

'CBS This Morning' anchors Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King on a happier morning than Nov. 21, 2017, when the women condemned the actions of their co-host.

Disgraced, power-brain talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose was honored in October at the Flax Trust annual luncheon at the 21 Club, New York.  Rose was introduced by Norah O’Donnell, his co-host on “CBS This Morning,” and presented with the Flax Trust Award by Sr. Mary Turley. The group publishes Irish America magazine,  vehicle for expression on a range of political, economic, social and cultural themes that are of paramount importance to the Irish in the United States.

This morning, Charlie Rose lies in the smoldering ashes of another Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Viewers of “CBS This Morning” start the day with the show’s signature “eye opener,” a first-moment montage of overnight news. The Tuesday morning 'eye opener' was painful as co-anchors Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell told their audience in stark terms how much they were shaken by allegations of sexual harassment leveled at the third member of their team, Charlie Rose.

“None of us ever thought we’d be sitting at this table in particular telling this story, but here we are,” said King, making a reference to the round-topped glass table that has become the center of the CBS morning program, which features Rose, King and O’Donnell not only reporting the news but talking over the ramifications of the stories they deliver. “This is not the man I know, but I’m clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and very damaged by this,” she added.

O'Donnell's remarks were very different from her praise of Charlie Rose a month ago at the Flax Trust luncheon. “Let me be clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior," she said, echoing a feeling that many women are experiencing. “This I know is true: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is reckoning," adding "This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong, period.”

Read details of WaPo's in-depth revelations about the esteemed Charlie Rose's long-time behavior patterns with younger women.