Yet another powerful figurehead in the entertainment industry has been recognized for allegations of sexual misconduct. NBC Today show host Matt Lauer was fired Wednesday, November 29, following the filing of a complaint from a colleague regarding his “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Following the detailed complaint about Lauer’s workplace sexual misconduct received Monday night, NBC News president Andrew Lack acted quickly. Lack described the allegation to have “represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.” Additionally, Mr. Lack stated that “[w]hile 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.”
The Today show staff received the news moments before going live. Matt Lauer's co- host, Savannah Guthrie, announced the news on air, saying she was “heartbroken for Matt” and also “heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward.”
President Trump responded as well to Lauer’s dismissal through a tweet, defending Lauer through claims that this was another scenario of “fake news”:
Additional details have been discovered regarding the misconduct reported on Monday. The misconduct began during coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and continued for several months.
The Wednesday following the public announcement of Lauer’s dismissal, two more complaints of sexual misconduct against him came forward. One of the women who came forth, a former employee of NBC, shared that in 2001, Lauer summoned her to his office, locked the door and sexually assaulted her. He had asked her to unbutton her blouse and bend over before he sexually assaulted her. She passed out after and was taken to a nurse, but did not initially come forward out of shame and in fear of losing her job. She left NBC a year later.
Further reports have been made in a Variety news report regarding other instances of Lauer’s sexual misconduct. Examples include gifts such as sex toys to colleagues, invitations to female colleagues to his hotel room during coverage of various Olympic games, and the installation of a button inside of his office that allowed Lauer to lock his door and make a move on women undisturbed.
It is devastating that yet another man in a position of power has been revealed to have perpetrated sexual misconduct. However, although Matt Lauer anchored the Today show since 1997 and was recognized as a figurehead for the network, it is essential now more than ever that brands, companies, and organizations react promptly as NBC did, with the dismissal of Lauer occurring less than 48 hours after an accusation was made. This provides justice for the victim(s) of assault, and validates the stories of those who have carried undue shame and burden for years.
The best way to support a victim after coming forward is to acknowledge the bravery it takes to speak up. It is never easy to come forward after a traumatic event, especially one as harmful and privatized as sexual misconduct in the workplace. While President Trump does not endorse this type of support, those of us at Project Consent do. We support and believe all survivors.