Matt Lauer has been terminated for "inappropriate workplace behavior," NBC News chairman Andrew Lack wrote in a memo to staff that was read at the top of the Today show Wednesday.
Lauer has served as co-anchor of NBC's morning news program since 1997. He joined Today in 1994.
On Thursday morning, Lauer released the following statement:
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused by others by words and actions. to the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”
A statement from Matt Lauer: “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions...” pic.twitter.com/f93rHXqKQD
On Wednesday, joined by Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie announced that her former co-anchor had been terminated, reading a memo sent to NBC staff, which USA TODAY also obtained.
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. 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.
Our 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.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.
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. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb
Guthrie said the news, which she learned moments before announcing it on air, has left her "devastated."
"I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he is beloved by many, many people here," Guthrie said. "And, I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell."
Later in the news program, NBC News’ Stephanie Gosk gave more information about the firing. “A spokesperson for the company says that the accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014 and because of the seriousness of the accusations, together with information that it may not be an isolated incident, NBC decided to terminate Lauer’s contract,” she said.
In a report fromThe New York Times, employment law litigator Ari Wilkenfeld says he represents the female who complained of Lauer's alleged behavior to NBC. Though the Times says Wilkenfeld declined to identify his client, he did provide a statement to the news outlet.
In the statement, Wilkenfeld said he and his client met with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Departments Monday evening for a lengthy interview. Wilkenfeld said he felt encouraged by NBC's quick response.
President Trump, who has also made headlines recently for reportedly questioning the Access Hollywood tape of him making vulgar comments about women, was swift to respond to the news of Lauer's firing via Twitter Wednesday. "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!"
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!
Lauer is one of several high-profile journalists to be ousted after accusations of sexual harassment in recent weeks. CBS and PBS dropped news veteran Charlie Rose last week following a Washington Post report that detailed years of alleged sexual misconduct with several women.
Rose issued a statement via Twitter on Nov. 20, denying the accuracy of the allegations in totality but also acknowledging he was "greatly embarrassed" by his "inappropriate behavior."
For the last two months, powerful men in Hollywood, like producer Harvey Weinsteinand actor Kevin Spacey, have also faces accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein's growing list of accusers currently totals to 83.
USA TODAY has reached out to Lauer's reps for comment.