Who Is Andy Lack? NBC News Chief Who Fired Matt Lauer Also Hired Him 20 Years Ago

November 29, 2017, 5:10 PM UTC

When Savannah Guthrie opened the Today show on Wednesday with news that her co-anchor Matt Lauer had been fired after a colleague accused him of “inappropriate sexual behavior,” she immediately segued into a statement from longtime NBC News chairman Andrew Lack.

“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack’s statement said.

He added that that the company’s “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.”

The move to swiftly fire Lauer is the latest in a series of high-impact decision has made in Lack’s NBC News career — including hiring Lauer as a Today show anchor 20 years ago. Here’s what to know about Lack:

His first stint at NBC

Lack, 70, got his start in television at CBS in the 1970s and ’80s, producing shows like West 57th, the New York Times reports. His journalistic background served him well when he was appointed president of NBC News in 1993, as the division was struggling with the aftermath of a scandal involving a faked explosion in a Dateline segment.

His tenure saw major ratings spikes for Nightly News (anchored by Tom Brokaw), Meet the Press and the Today show. Lack installed Lauer as co-anchor at Today in 1997. Lack also boosted the careers of journalists who became household names, including Brian Williams. MSNBC launched during this time, as well.

In 2001, Lack left the news division, and in 2003 he left the company to become chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2008, he joined Bloomberg’s media division, where he remained until 2014.

His second stint at NBC

Lack returned to NBC in 2015, once again in the wake of scandal for the network. Brian Williams had just been suspended for misleading viewers about his role in a helicopter attack in Iraq and the network was going through another period of soul-searching. Lack named Lester Holt as Williams’ replacement in the anchor chair for Nightly News and eventually moved Williams to MSNBC, a network that has enjoyed surging ratings since last year’s presidential election — especially for Rachel Maddow.

Lack somewhat controversially won a bidding war to hire Megyn Kelly from Fox News, giving her the slot that was formerly the third hour of the Today show hosted by Al Roker and Tamron Hall. That decision drew blowback from critics who disapproved of taking the show away from two black anchors. Kelly’s ratings have since struggled.

Lack also faced criticism after the network sat on Ronan Farrow’s reporting on the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Farrow took his work to The New Yorker after NBC News passed on it. It remains unclear why the network opted not to publish the reporting.

His personal life

Lack is married to Betsy Kenny Lack, head of global brand partnerships for Snap Inc, parent company of Snapchat. In March, NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snap’s IPO. She formerly worked for Vanity Fair.

That Trump tweet

On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted about the news, writing, “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

Trump has frequently complained about critical coverage by NBC News and MSNBC, and NBC held the infamous “locker room talk” tape from an Access Hollywood recording that came out during the 2016 campaign.