The results are in on whether NBC management knew about Matt Lauer’s behavior — the behavior that resulted in his termination from the network in November 2017 — and for those who have followed this case from the beginning, you’ll likely be surprised by how things panned out. While Lauer has kept a very low profile since the allegations came to light and since his subsequent exit from Today, NBC has been conducting an investigation, led by NBCUniversal general counsel Kim Harris. The results were made public on Wednesday through E! News (among other outlets).
The investigation began shortly after Lauer was fired from the network in late 2017. NBC interviewed 68 current and former employees about Lauer’s behavior, and they also looked into any human resources records to see if complaints were made.
Some of the more notable conclusions from the investigation include this statement about complaints about Lauer’s behavior: “We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or Today Show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to November 27, 2017.”
If we go deeper into the report, we see that many of the women interviewed in this investigation reportedly only had “positive things to say” about Lauer’s behavior at work. But — and this is a big but — there seemed to be a general acknowledgment that Lauer’s behavior tended to cross the line. “[A] number of individuals interviewed said that Lauer could be flirtatious, would frequently make jokes, some with sexual overtones, and would openly engage in sexually-oriented banter in the workplace,” the report notes.
The report continues at a later point, “[S]everal women also credibly described to the investigation team being the subject of what they believed was a sexual overture from Lauer in which he complimented them on their appearance in sexually suggestive ways. According to these women, Lauer did not pursue them further when they deflected or ignored the overture, and they did not experience any retaliation. All these women stated that they did not report this behavior to anyone in a position of authority.”
NBC’s findings are disheartening to say the least. There’s an acknowledgment from interviewees that Lauer’s behavior was problematic, and he was literally fired from the network because of that behavior. For NBC to be unable to find record of complaint is a disappointing dead end because you’d hope there would be some administrative footprint to backup the numerous testimonies and allegations that have come forward about Lauer.
As an example, in April, Lauer’s former coworker, Ann Curry, claimed that she had reported Lauer for sexual harassment on behalf of another female colleague in 2012 (NBC claims to have no record of that complaint).
Shortly after the release of the investigation, Lauer released his own statement about the report that seems to push back on certain parts of these findings.
“There are aspects of the NBC report with which I clearly disagree,” he stated. “However, I spent 25 wonderful years at the network, 20 of those at Today, and I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished as a team. On November 29, 2017, I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers. A day later I took responsibility for those relationships, apologized to the people I hurt and promised to begin the process of repairing the damage I had caused my family. I have worked every day since then to honor that promise.”
There’s no word yet on whether Lauer will return to working in any capacity anytime soon.