NBC News fired longtime anchor Matt Lauer Wednesday over sexual harassment of a female colleague in the workplace, the network announced.
His “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie broke the news to viewers as the show opened, saying it was “a sad morning here at ‘Today’ and at NBC News,” before reading out a memo that the network’s news chairman, Andrew Lack, had sent to staff moments earlier.
The memo said that a female colleague of Lauer’s had made a detailed complaint against the anchor Monday night, outlining inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace that represented a “clear violation of our company’s standards.”
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack wrote.
Guthrie told viewers that she was “heartbroken” for both Lauer, whom she described as “my dear, dear friend and my partner,” and the “brave colleague” who had spoken out against him.
“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? And I don’t know the answer to that.”
Hoda Kotb, sitting alongside Guthrie, also expressed her love for Lauer as “a friend and a colleague” and said it was hard to square his reported behavior with the man she knew.
The sacking of Lauer, one of America’s most high-profile broadcasters, makes the married 59-year-old father of three the latest powerful man to fall amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations in the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. He had been co-anchor of the show for more than two decades, since first appearing in 1997.
Lauer is not the first high-profile journalist to be caught up in scandal. Last week, CBS News fired morning anchor Charlie Rose, after reports emerged of years of sexual misconduct. The New York Times’ White House correspondent Glenn Thrush was also suspended as the newspaper weighs allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior.
President Donald Trump was quick to comment on the news, tweeting: “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”