In a stunning development, NBC has terminated TODAY show host Matt Lauer due to sexual misconduct allegations. The news was announced Wednesday morning during the TODAY show by host Savannah Guthrie, who seemed on the verge of breaking down as she reported the story for viewers of NBC’s morning institution.
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 29, 2017
“All we can say is we are heartbroken,” said Guthrie. “I’m heartbroken.” Calling Lauer “a dear, dear friend,” Guthrie also went on to say that she was “heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story.”
Given Lauer’s position at NBC — on MSNBC, Morning Joe commentator Willie Geist described him as “the most powerful man at NBC News” — it certainly could not have been easy to report Lauer to supervisors and executives at the network. But for the past two months, the culture has undergone a revolt against sexual harassment and misconduct that has taken down prominent and powerful people in entertainment, media and politics.
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack gave the news to staff in an email Wednesday morning. The text is as follows (via Axios):
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. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.
The firing is also notable from a sports media standpoint, as Lauer and the TODAY show staff are a significant part of NBC’s Olympics coverage. He has reported and anchored 11 Olympic Games telecasts for TODAY, which includes hosting the primetime opening ceremonies five times.
Lauer had been the full-time host of TODAY since 1997, moving up from news anchor to replace Bryant Gumbel. He recently signed a contract extension with NBC that ran through 2018, paying him $20 million per year. Prior to that, Lauer had a five-year deal with the network that paid him a reported $25 million a year through 2017 amid rumors that he was considering a move to ABC.