Instead of joining the #MeToo movement, most stars in showbiz should be tweeting “I didn’t know.”
Over a month after Matt Lauer was fired from NBC for allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, former “Today” co-host Katie Couric opened up about her old colleague’s shock departure.
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Couric told People. “The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment.”
The 61-year-old journalist, who worked alongside Lauer for 15 years before leaving NBC for CBS in 2006, said she was completely unaware of the disgraced anchor’s alleged indiscretions–which included forcible sexual assault.
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” Couric maintained. “In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship.”
The “joke” to which Couric referred was a 2012 comment in which she responded to interviewer Andy Cohen’s question “What is Matt’s most annoying habit?” by saying “He pinches me on the ass a lot.”
Couric praised NBC hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who have taken the helm of “Today” since Lauer”s firing.
“It’s still very upsetting,” she said. “I really admire the way Savannah and Hoda and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”
Lauer expressed being “embarrassed” over the allegations, but called some of the accusations “untrue” and “mischaracterized.”
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed,” Lauer said in a statement. “I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul-searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job.”
Couric spoke to People about Time’s Up, a movement against sexual harassment that includes a legal fund for victims of sexual misconduct.
Time’s Up was given spotlight at this year’s Golden Globe Awards, where most celebrities wore black to protest sexual abuse.
“I think it was really moving to see so many women support each other and demand change, not only for themselves, but for mistreated and marginalized women in all kinds of industries. Clearly we are witnessing a sea change and a long overdue course correction.”
Couric also touted her upcoming Nat Geo documentary, an episode of which will deal with harassment women face in the workplace.
The news icon briefly touched on the subject of the Lauer accusations last month, when an Instagram user chided her for her silence on the issue.
The slew of accusations against high-profile media figures like Lauer have at least one thing in common: journalists who are always eager to get the juiciest stories were somehow totally oblivious to misdeeds happening right under their noses.