On Wednesday morning, fans and co-anchors woke up to the news that longtime “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer had been fired.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack sent a memo to employees informing them a female colleague had sent in “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer.” After the company reviewed the complaint, it determined Lauer had severely violated “company standards.”
In the hours that ensued after news of Lauer’s termination spread, reports began circulating that reporters from publications such as The New York Times and Variety had been working on stories about Lauer for months regarding his sexual misconduct in the workplace.
According to gossip sites like Page Six, Lauer had a reputation of having multiple affairs with colleagues, but nothing had ever been reported until now.
Additionally, videos began re-surfacing of some of Lauer’s questionable behavior in the workplace. TMZ released a video of Lauer telling former co-anchor Meredith Vieira to “keep bending over; it’s a nice view,” as well as footage of former co-host Katie Couric admitting Lauer’s “most annoying habit” was “pinching” her rear end.
Lauer also allegedly gifted a female co-worker with a sex toy, according to the New York Daily News, along with a note regarding her use of it.
On Thursday, Lauer broke his silence regarding any and all accusations made against him. The statement read, in part:
There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.
He continued, saying now he is focusing on making amends for what he’s done both to his victims and to his loved ones.
Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.
However, he clarified that he is not admitting to everything being reported, saying (emphasis added):
Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.
Prior to his apology, “Today” co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb had to break the news of Lauer’s firing just moments after learning about it themselves — and the task was clearly an emotional one for his two visibly shaken colleagues.
In the wake of society’s upheaval of sexual misconduct in the workplace, everyone in the public eye has learned an apology holds a lot of weight.
Lauer did take responsibility for the pain he’s caused both the brave female colleague who reported him, and his dear friends and family members. But it remains to be seen which accusations, if any, he will specifically deny.
Watch the announcement during the “Today” show below: