Last fall, Matt Lauer was seemingly abruptly fired from NBC, three years after he behaved inappropriately with a staff member at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. That wasn’t the first time Lauer’s sexual misconduct had been flagged, though. Ann Curry, his former co-anchor who was let go after a year of working alongside Lauer (and decades of being at the Today show), revealed to The Washington Post that she had reported his sexual harassment on behalf of a colleague to the network in 2012.
“A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her,” Curry said. “She was afraid of losing her job… I believed her… I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women.” Curry also added that she witnessed “pervasive verbal sexual harassment at NBC,” though it’s likely Curry has a nondisclosure agreement with the network that prevents her from speaking more specifically at length about what she saw.
“This is one of the problems when we talk about corporations with an HR department being under leadership of someone who might or might not be accused,” she said. “How are they going to complain about it if they are accusing someone who is overseeing the department that is supposed to protect them?… Do you have a system that allows those who feel they have been victimized to air their complaints without fear they will lose their jobs? I don’t know a company that does.” (It’s worth noting that just yesterday NBC faced more sexual assault allegations, this time at the hands of Tom Brokaw, who has been accused by two former NBC employees of unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior, as the same Washington Post story revealed.)
Ultimately, Curry ended up leaving that same year, though she hasn’t since clarified if her departure was linked to Lauer’s behavior. While sources revealed to People that Curry was ousted over poor ratings, to make matters all the more insulting, there was also a “lack of chemistry” with Lauer that was speculated to be the reason she was fired.
Meanwhile, Lauer has broken his silence since his firing and, subsequently, after sexual misconduct allegations came to light. “I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months,” he told The Washington Post. “I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up. I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father, and principal at NBC. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive, or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.”