It's been just over 24-hours since NBC dropped the bombshell that longtime Today Show anchor Matt Lauer had been fired for repeated sexual misconduct. Network executives maintain they knew nothing of a series of sexual assault and harassment claims against Lauer until Monday night, a defense that is losing credibility by the hour.
Late last night Variety Magazine, whose journalists have been working on the Lauer story for months, released stunning and horrifying details of his alleged behavior.
As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.
On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.
He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f—, marry, or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.
According to sources, the sexual harassment extended to when Lauer traveled on assignment for NBC. Several employees recall how he paid intense attention to a young woman on his staff that he found attractive, focusing intently on her career ambitions.
They also revealed that NBC executives covered for Lauer and that his Today Show co-hosts knew about his behavior.
"Our sources say it wasn’t even considered a secret," Variety reporter Ramin Setoodeh told CNN. "It was known by many employees at the TODAY Show, including some employees that have gone on television and said publicly ‘we had no idea.'"
"We believe there will be more evidence about ‘who knew what when’ that will come out in the reporting in the days to come,” he continued.
This morning came the worst accusation yet after a married woman who worked for Lauer revealed he allegedly raped her in his office, where he had a button to lock the door under his desk, until she passed out on the floor.
One complaint came from a former employee who said Mr. Lauer had summoned her to his office in 2001, locked the door and sexually assaulted her. She provided her account to The New York Times but declined to let her name be used.
She told The Times that she passed out and had to be taken to a nurse. She said that she felt helpless because she didn’t want to lose her job, and that she didn’t report the encounter at the time because she felt ashamed.
"He couldn't sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people ... so he'd have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn't ever complain," a former NBC producer says of Matt Lauer https://t.co/O109CDucrJ pic.twitter.com/FBdUjXRIsL— Variety (@Variety) November 30, 2017
The question now is, when will the authorities get involved?