NBC abruptly fired Matt Lauer on Wednesday for what the network described as the Today show anchor’s alleged “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a female NBC employee that began during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Now, a new article from Variety gives some of the details about the accusations against the longtime TV news personality.
Among the allegations, which are based on a two-month investigation and “dozens of interviews with current and former staffers” at NBC, is that Lauer once dropped his pants in front of a female employee whom he had invited into his office. Lauer allegedly showed the woman his penis and then “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act,” according to Variety. In another incident, Lauer allegedly gave a Today show co-host a sex toy as a gift, along with an explicit note detailing how he would use the object on the female colleague, “which left her mortified,” Variety reported.
Other allegations against Lauer include claims that he would ask female producers at the network to name their sexual partners and that he would openly discuss which female co-hosts on the show he would like to have sex with.
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack sent a memo to employees on Wednesday in which he said a recent complaint that a staffer sent to the network regarding Lauer “represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards.” Lack, who did note that “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” also claimed that the recent complain was the first of its kind ever lodged against the Today anchor during his two-decade tenure at the network. However, Variety‘s report claims that “several women” said they previously complained to network executives about Lauer’s behavior, but that nothing was done.
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Because Lauer held a position of great power at NBC, and reportedly earned more than $25 million annually, the anonymous accusers told Variety that they were torn about coming forward with their claims because of fears about repercussions for their careers.
Variety‘s report includes multiple creepy details about Lauer’s alleged behavior, including claims that he “was known for making lewd comments verbally or over text messages.” The TV anchor also allegedly had a button under his desk that discreetly locked his door from the inside without him needing to stand up. “It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him,” Variety said of that bizarre detail, citing two anonymous women who accused Lauer of sexual harassment.
Variety‘s new detailed allegations against Lauer sparked much criticism and curiosity on social media (especially with regard to the button):
Lauer has not yet publicly responded to his firing or the allegations against him. Fortune contacted NBC News for comment about the Variety report and we will update this article with any response. Lauer’s ouster is the latest in a long (and growing) list of high-profile men in media, entertainment, and other industries who have lost their jobs over a flood of sexual harassment, assault allegations, and other misconduct, including Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey.