NBC Fires Today Show's Matt Lauer After Harassment Complaint

Cites "Inappropriate Sexual Behavior in The Workplace"

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NBC News has fired Matt Lauer as anchor of the Today Show, citing inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

The announcement was made by the network on Twitter, and addressed by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie at the top of the "Today" show, where Lauer has been an anchor for two decades.

NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in a memo to staff that it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his career at the network. But he said "we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."

NBC News quotes the memo Lack sent employees Wednesday morning, saying the complaint, which was made by a colleague of Lauer's, prompted a serious review and represented a "clear violation of our company's standards."

"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," Lack said. 

Lauer becomes the second network morning show anchor to be removed  by sexual misconduct allegations, with PBS halting distribution of Charlie Rose's  nightly interview show and CBS News firing him on Nov. 21 following a Washington Post report with the accusations of eight women.

Lauer, 59, has hosted "Today" for two decades. When paired with Katie Couric, "Today" was the longtime ratings leader and was highly lucrative for NBC. It now runs second in the ratings to ABC's "Good Morning America." Many "Today" show viewers took out their anger for the unsightly 2012 firing of co-host Ann Curry on Lauer, sending the show plunging in the ratings. But NBC stuck with Lauer and the show had steadied with his pairing with Guthrie. The show runs for four hours, with Lauer and Guthrie hosting the first two.

He joins a lengthening list of media figures felled by sexual misconduct charges this year. Besides Rose, they include Lauer's former NBC News colleague Mark Halperin, former Fox News prime-time host Bill O'Reilly and National Public Radio newsroom chief Michael Oreskes. The New York Times suspended White House correspondent Glenn Thrush last week.

Messages to Lauer and his agent were not immediately returned.

Lack, in his memo, said that "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." There were reports that, before the firing, some media organizations were looking into Lauer's behavior. The morning host is married with three children.

Guthrie co-hosted Wednesday's show with Hoda Kotb, who said both of them were awakened with the news Wednesday morning. Guthrie appeared to fight back tears as she called Lauer her friend who is beloved by many at NBC, and said she was "heartbroken for my colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell.

"We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks," she said. "How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? I don't know the answer to that. But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it's long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected."

 President Trump reacted on Twitter, shortly after the announcement was made: 

Former Buffalo TV reporter Mike Igoe tells WBEN the main thing that struck him was how quickly NBC reacted. "The complaint was lodged Monday and he was gone by Wednesday.  That's a change in tone compared to Harvey Weinstein and Bill O'Reilly.  It seems as if it's zero tolerance going forward when it comes to sexual misconduct".

As for this morning's Today program on NBC, Igoe, who is a Communications professor at SUNY Fredonia, says it had to be very difficult for Lauer's colleagues.  "It's a shock and there are mixed feelings because on one hand you have a duty to report the news. And on ther other hand, you feel betrayed on a friendship level. It's very, very difficult to put on a professional face".

AUDIO below with SUNY Fredonia's Mike Igoe


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