Matt Lauer Releases Statement on Today About His 'Shame'
Updated Nov. 30, 2017, 7 a.m. PT: A day after his firing from NBC was announced on Today, Matt Lauer broke his silence and released a statement, first read on air during the show.
"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions," Lauer said in the statement, which was read by his former cohost, Savannah Guthrie. "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."
Lauer's statement then switched from being apologetic to seemingly trying to clear at least a little bit of his name.
"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," he continued. Pro tip: If enough of the allegations is true that you need to make this apology in the first place, this isn't the time to be arguing about the veracity of the news.
Lauer's statement concluded, "I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul-searching, and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."
Lauer's statement probably isn't the most tone-deaf thing we've heard from a man facing allegations of sexual misconduct, but it's pretty up there.
In a shocking announcement made on Today, it was revealed that Matt Lauer, a staple at NBC for the better part of 25 years, has been fired from the network following an accusation of "inappropriate sexual behavior" made by a coworker. Lauer's cohost, Savannah Guthrie, read a statement from NBC head Andrew Lack during a live broadcast, looking just as shocked as many viewers undoubtedly felt.
"On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer," the statement read. "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 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
It continued, "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."
Lauer signed a new, $20 million contract with NBC last year that extended through 2018. He has been a part of the Today team since the early 1990s, so it goes without saying this news is a huge blow to NBC.
Guthrie was visibly distressed as she read the statement and then commented on the shocking nature of the news.
"For the moment, all we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is beloved by many, many people here. And I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell," Guthrie said. "We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. 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."
She added, "But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important. It's long overdue and it must resolve in workplaces where all women, all people, feel respected."
Guthrie also told viewers she and Hoda Kotb, who joined her for her broadcast, did not yet know any more than what was in Lack's statement, but they would be sharing new developments as the day goes on.
Lauer now joins an ever-growing list of powerful men who have been ousted following allegations of sexual assault, misconduct and harassment. Like so many others, the evidence of his wrongdoing was there all along — in 2012, Katie Couric admitted on Watch What Happens Live that Lauer's "most annoying habit" was his penchant for regularly pinching her butt at work, which is harassment at best and assault at worst.
There are still no details available about who filed the complaint against Lauer or what their allegation specifically said, but one source leaked to Raw Story that it was a staffer who says Lauer sexually assaulted them during last year's Olympic Games in Rio.
"There have been rumors about Matt having affairs with subordinates at NBC for years, but those were believed to be consensual," the insider said. "This incident in Rio was not."
This is a developing story, and more details will undoubtedly come to light. Whether Lauer had other victims remains to be seen, but if his story follows the pattern we've seen play out over and over again in recent months, this news will embolden others to come forward.