NBC took a major blow when they announced that Matt Lauer, longtime anchor and face of their flagship morning program, had been fired for sexual misconduct. The "Today" show anchor had a slew of allegations against him, one of which included giving a co-worker a sex toy as a gift, which came with a graphic note describing how he wanted to use it on this person (via Variety):
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.
These accounts of Lauer’s behavior at NBC are the result of a two-month investigation by Variety, with dozens of interviews with current and former staffers. Variety has talked to three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, and their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time. They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions.
Oh, and let’s not forget special button he had in the desk of his office that allowed him to lock the door without getting up—because that’s not creepy at all.
What’s ironic about all of this is how Lauer grilled fallen Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was also dismissed due to sexual misconduct allegations. In one instance, a $32 million settlement was struck with one of his accusers. Needless to say, this interview did not age well. Lauer interviewed O’Reilly in September of 2017 (via Boston Globe):
O’Reilly spent the interview vehemently denying the harassment allegations made against him. Lauer did not hold back with his questioning.
“But think about those five women and what they did,” Lauer said. “They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think about how intimidating that must have been and how nerve wracking that must have been. Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?
“Let me put a period on it this way, Bill, by asking you over the last six months since your firing, have you done some soul searching? Have you done some self-reflection? And have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?”
The Washington Post also noted the irony about this interview, even highlighting some of Lauer’s line of questioning:
Lauer could have been talking about his own situation when he said this: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on.”
And this: “You don't let your number-one guy go unless you have information that you think makes him. ... ”
And this: “Did you ever send a lewd text or email to another employee?”
And this: “Did you ever have any human resources cases brought against you?”
And this: “Think about those .?.?. women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been. Doesn't that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated?”
Well, Lauer was the no. 1 guy at NBC. And now he’s gone after a human resources complaint was filed against him. He has since apologized for his behavior.