After five short months in hiding, Matt Lauer is back to talk about allegations of sexual harassment that got him canned from the Today. His first comments didn’t come via a tone-deaf interview with Charlie Rose, but in a piece by The Washington Post. Lest you think it’s a puff piece to fluff up Matt Lauer’s already-too-bloated ego, there are some comments by several anonymous sources and Ann Curry that imply things were rotten at NBC for a while.
WaPo spoke with 12 anonymous women about sexual harassment at NBC, three of which say they experiences with Matt Lauer. One woman claims Matt exposed himself in his office and asked her to touch him. Another says she had sex with him in his office in the middle of the day. A third claims Matt gave her a sex toy (although, that we already knew). It’s a wonder how Matt wasn’t paid a visit by the NY State Hospitality & Tourism board. It sounds like he was secretly running his office like a crappy motel.
WaPo also found three former NBC staffers (they remained anonymous too) who were willing to come to Matt’s defense, saying all of his relationships were consensual. Matt allegedly also told two employees that his behavior at work was simply because his marriage was in trouble at home. Matt released a statement to WaPo, possibly written on stationery stolen from whatever hotel he’s been living at since his wife kicked his ass to the curb. He maintains that a lot of the stories are lies, and that the only thing he’s guilty of is acting like a sleazy husband:
“I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months…I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up.
I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.”
If you ask Ann Curry, he was also acting inappropriately as an employee, and NBC really didn’t do anything to stop it. Ann says that during her last year on the Today show in 2012, she was approached by a female staffer. The staffer tearfully shared with Ann that she had been physically sexually harassed by Matt. The woman asked Ann for help, because she was afraid she might lose her job. Ann helped her her by going to two members of NBC’s management team, informing them that “they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women.”
An NBC spokesman told WaPo that the company doesn’t have a record of Ann’s warning, and that there’s no mention of it in Matt’s personnel file. Ann adds that that’s the problem with HR, saying: “How are they going to complain about it if they are accusing someone who is overseeing the department that is supposed to protect them?”
Matt Lauer was the smug prince of Today, and NBC was more than happy to give him millions of dollars every year. So I’m not shocked that any complaints might have been used to line the bottom of the peacock’s cage. But it sucks for everyone else involved. The women who complained and saw nothing happen, the people like Ann Curry who tried to warn everyone, the custodial crew at 30 Rock. Yes, them too. It would appear Matt was in his office a lot, and you know at least one of them developed carpal tunnel from working so hard to disinfect his desk and chair every night.