Matt Lauer is out at NBC News, the latest in a wave of business and media elites ousted over reports of sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct.
The TV journalist served as co-anchor of NBC’s The Today Show since 1998. From 1994 to 1997, he was a news anchor for the show.
Lauer has topped the charts for highest paid TV hosts, coming in at number three this year, according to Business Insider. In 2012, Lauer had signed a multi-year contract with NBC, reportedly worth between $20 million and $25 million per year. And last year, the anchor reportedly signed another two year deal through 2018.
Early Wednesday, several journalists reported that Lauer has been fired from NBC following reports of “inappropriate workplace behavior.”
The Today Show confirmed Lauer’s firing in a tweet, saying “Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.”
Lauer’s co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, made the announcement at the start of Wednesday’s edition of the Today Show.
“This is a sad morning at Today and NBC News,” she said. “As I’m sure you can understand, we are devastated. I’m heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear colleague.”
Guthrie went on the explain the trauma the report has caused at the show:
“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 know 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.”
Guthrie and co-anchor Hoda Kotb said they were informed of the decision not long before going on the air at 7 a.m. ET. Several moments later, as he gave the weather report, an emotional Al Roker noted, “We’re dealing with the news about a friend of 30 years and we’re all trying to process it.”
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack told staff in a memo that this was the first reported incident during Lauer’s more than two decades at the network. However, while there had been no other complaints, Lack explained that he had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Lauer’s sudden firing may have been motivated by at least one media story in the works about the allegations against him. Variety reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister said on twitter that she and colleague Ramin Setoodeh has been working on a story about sexual harassment allegations against Lauer for months and NBC was “aware.”
After the Today Show announcement, President Trump immediately tweeted about the news, asking in the process when top executives at NBC parent Comcast (CMCSA) would be “fired for putting out so much Fake News.”