2017 has become the year of sexual assault accusations being brought into the entertainment industry. Just yesterday, it was revealed that NBC correspondent Matt Lauer has been released from his contract at the news outlet due to violations of the company’s standards, siting sexual assault as one of the offenses. Lauer graduated from the Scripps College of Communication, School of Media Arts and Studies of Ohio University, one of the biggest journalism schools in the country. He started his television career in 1979 as a producer for a newscast in West Virginia. He slowly began growing his name and being a part of bigger networks.
His resume eventually led him to join the Today show as a news anchor in 1994, moving up to a co-anchor of the show in 1997. He is best known for being the main commentator of the Olympics and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It was reported in 2012 that Lauer gets paid up to $25 million a year after signing a new contract with NBC.
While news hadn’t broke to the public until yesterday, outlets like ‘The New York Times’ and ’Variety’ had already started an investigation of their own into the rumors regarding Lauer’s behavior in the workplace. The article released by Variety yesterday claims that in the 2 months of their work on this story, they interviewed multiple former and current employees of NBC, 3 confirming that they experienced sexual harassment from Lauer. While they are left unnamed, specific descriptions of his offenses are written.
But NBC had no involvement in this situation until Monday night, when one of Matt’s colleagues took her story to human resources at NBC. She explained that she had experienced “inappropriate sexual conduct” from Lauer that began on a trip to the Sochi Olympics in 2014. The employee claimed these offenses continued for several months. This led NBC to act quickly, as news was spreading of Lauer’s history, as this wasn’t the first rumored complaint that had been made about the news anchor in the industry.
On Wednesday morning at the top of the ‘Today’ show, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb revealed the situation and Matt’s termination from NBC, explaining that they only found out hours before they went live. Guthrie went on to read the statement sent to them from NBC News chairman, Andy Lack.
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
This statement brought many people to question NBC’s honesty, as witnesses and victims interviewed in the ‘Variety’ article claimed that their previous complaints “fell on deaf ears”. What we do know is that NBC went through with releasing Lauer after the surface of these accusations, whether the first or not. This morning, Guthrie and Kotb read Matt’s statement made on the situation. “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. 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.”
NBC and other networks will continue covering this story of misconduct, along with all of the other stories of sexual assault in the entertainment and news industry.