Colleagues of former “Today” host Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC on Wednesday after a colleague filed a complaint of sexual misconduct, detailed Lauer’s alleged behavior toward women in a report published by Variety.
Variety reported, citing “dozens of interviews with current and former staffers,” that Lauer gave one female colleague a sex toy with an explicit note about his intentions for its use.
He summoned another female colleague to his office and exposed his genitals to her, according to the report. The colleague was “visibly shaken,” according to Variety, and when she did not act Lauer reprimanded her for not taking part in a sexual encounter.
Lauer was known for making crude remarks aloud or via text message, according to the report. He offered to trade the names of his sexual partners with female producers, whom he asked about their own encounters, according to Variety.
He once compared a colleague’s job performance to her presumed sexual performance, according to the report. Lauer also played “fuck, marry or kill” with colleagues, and named female co-hosts he would like to have sex with.
According to Variety, Lauer had a button under his desk to lock his office at 30 Rockefeller Center without requiring him to get up. When traveling abroad, he had a pattern of inviting female colleagues to his hotel room late at night, according to the report.
Variety reported, citing unnamed sources, that the complaint that led to Lauer’s dismissal was about “inappropriate sexual conduct” by Lauer that began at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and went on for several more months.
An unnamed former producer told Variety that Lauer had “a lot of consensual relationships,” but noted those were “still a problem because of the power he held.”
“He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married,” the producer said. “So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”
One unnamed former reporter told Variety that “management” at NBC and “Today” “protected the shit out of Matt Lauer,” and several women told Variety that they brought Lauer’s behavior to the attention of NBC News executives, to no avail.
NBC News announced Lauer’s termination Wednesday morning, and continued to report on the complaint throughout the day.
“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,” NBC News chair Andy Lack said in a statement. “Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected.”