A memo released by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack reads as follows:
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. While 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. Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender. We are deeply saddened by this turn of events, but we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.
Savannah Guthrie and Hota Kotb addressed Lauer’s dismissal at the top of Wednesday’s Today:
Coming from New York’s WNBC, where he co-hosted Today in New York, Lauer joined the national Today show full-time in 1994 as a news anchor. After putting in some time as an occasional Weekend Today co-host and sub for Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News, he succeeded Bryant Gumble as Today co-anchor in 1997.
“We are devastated and we are still processing this,” a visibly shaken Guthrie said on air. “We do not know more than what I just shared with you, but we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists. I’m sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come, and we promise we will share that with you.”
Guthrie then turned to Kotb and added, “I am heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he was beloved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell. And we are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks: How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected. As painful as it is, this moment in our culture, this change had to happen.”
NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk later reported that Lauer’s accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014. The seriousness of the allegations prompted the network to terminate his contract. No further details are known at this time.