A former reporter for NBC torched the network’s handling of sexual harassment claims against star anchor Matt Lauer, telling Variety higher-ups failed to appropriately manage a multitude of allegations against the former “Today” host.
“Management sucks there,” an unnamed former reporter said. “They protected the shit out of Matt Lauer.”
“There is such shame with Matt Lauer not liking you,” the reporter said of the power the former anchor held. “I did this special with him and we are traveling and I had a cold sore on my lip and I heard him say to Bryant Gumbel, ‘She has this really ugly cold sore on her lip,’ like that was something to be ashamed of. He was just really cruel.”
The Variety report details a series of sexual harassment allegations against Lauer, including that he once dropped his pants in front of a female colleague and “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.” Another NBC employee told Variety she received a sex toy from the former “Today” host, along with a detailed description of “how he wanted to use it on her.”
The news comes after NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday abruptly announced Lauer had been fired following a complaint about inappropriate workplace harassment. An emotional Guthrie said she was “heartbroken” about the allegations against her “dear, dear friend,” Lauer.
According to Variety, the network’s decision to fire Lauer followed a detailed allegation of sexual misconduct by a current NBC employee that had allegedly been occurring since the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics. That allegation capped of a pattern of inappropriate workplace behavior by Lauer, that included derogatory and suggestive remarks against female employees and a “[fixation] on women, especially their bodies and looks,” according to current and former NBC employee.
Variety reports Lauer even “had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up,” which provided him the space to privately prey on female colleagues.
“There were a lot of consensual relationships, but that’s still a problem because of the power he held,” a former producer told Variety. “He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”