Former “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer is in headlines again as a new report detailed rape allegations against him.
Wednesday’s “Today” show addressed the report in a segment as co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb told viewers they were “disturbed to our core” as they tried to process the latest information about Lauer, who was fired in 2017 as the co-anchor of the NBC morning show after allegations of sexual misconduct.
NBC’s Morgan Radford reported on the soon-to-be-released book by Ronan Farrow, “Catch and Kill,” that was obtained by Variety which published a report Tuesday about the interview with a former NBC News employee, Brooke Nevils.
Nevils is reportedly the previously unnamed employee whose initial accusation against Lauer led to his firing. Now through the explosive interview, the allegation was revealed to be that he had raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Nevils admitted she had been drinking before going to Lauer’s hotel room to retrieve her press credential, which he had taken as a joke. When she returned a second time after he invited her, Nevils alleged Lauer pushed her against the door and kissed her before pushing her onto the bed where he had sex with her after she allegedly told him she didn’t want to several times.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she told Farrow in the book, also revealing that she had more sexual encounters with Lauer once they were back in New York City.
‘This is what I blame myself most for,’” she said. “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
In 2017, she was urged to report the incident to NBC’s human resources and Lauer was apparently terminated the next day. But it seems the network wanted to play down the incident which Nevils told Farrow she “told like a million people” about.
According to Variety:
After Lauer’s firing, she learned that Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, “were emphasizing that the incident hadn’t been ‘criminal’ or an ‘assault’” — which she claims caused her to throw up, Farrow writes.
And though Nevils had been promised anonymity by human resources, Lack saying internally that the encounter had happened at Sochi limited the possibilities of complainants — and soon, everyone knew it was Nevils. Though Nevils had not wanted money, she went on medical leave in 2018, and was eventually paid, Farrow writes, “seven figures.”
“The network proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment,” Farrow wrote.
Knowing the allegations made by Nevils, Lack still issued a statement at the time of Lauer’s firing saying it was because of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Farrow’s reporting on disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which launched the #MeToo movement, was turned away by NBC News. The bombshell report was eventually published by the New Yorker, earning a Pulitzer Prize for Farrow whose new book could spell more headaches for NBC News and Lauer.
“I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment,” Guthrie said during Wednesday’s “Today” show after the report.
“This is shocking and appalling. I honestly don’t even know what to say about it,” she added, emotional. “I want to say I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it’s not easy now and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. And it’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult.”
Kotb noted how they were in a similar state of shock two years ago.
“I’m looking at you and having a weird moment: we were sitting here just like this two years ago,” she said to Guthrie.
“Truth be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs before just to sort of sort out what we were going to do. I think you feel like you’ve known someone for 12 years. I don’t know if you guys have ever felt like that. You know someone, you feel like you know them inside and out and then all of a sudden, a door opens up and it’s a part of them you didn’t know,” Kotb said.
“We don’t know all the facts on all of this, but there are not allegations of an affair, there are allegations of a crime,” the co-host, who permanently replaced Lauer on the show, continued.
“I think that’s shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. So I think we’re going to just sort of continue to process this part of this horrific story and as you said, our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did, to come forward. It’s not easy at all,” Kotb added.
A statement by NBC News called Lauer’s conduct “appalling, horrific and reprehensible.”
Statement from NBC News about the Matt Lauer allegations. pic.twitter.com/OcphdoziNW
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 9, 2019
“Our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality – there can be no exception,” NBC News chairman Andy Lack said.
Update: Lauer responded to the inflammatory accusation, calling it “outrageous” and “false,” and asserting that the extramarital affair was “consensual.”
“I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.”
“The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. The only concern she expressed was that someone might see her leaving my room. She embraced me at the door as she left.”
“This encounter, which she now falsely claims was an assault, was the beginning of our affair. It was the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months. After we returned to New York, we both communicated by text and by phone. We met for drinks, and she met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue our affair. Our meetings were arranged mutually. At no time, during or after her multiple visits to my apartment, did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there, or with our affair.”
“She also went out of her way to see me several times in my dressing room at work, and on one of those occasions we had a sexual encounter. It showed terrible judgment on my part, but it was completely mutual and consensual.”
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