Longtime “Today” show host Matt Lauer was fired Wednesday after a sexual misconduct complaint was brought to NBC by an unnamed staff member.
The network did not provide specific details about the allegations that resulted in Lauer’s firing but indicated that it had reason to believe they were not isolated incidents.
Wednesday afternoon, entertainment magazine Variety sought to provide an answer, publishing a monthslong investigation into Lauer’s behavior with colleagues at NBC. The report relies on three unnamed women who accuse Lauer of sexual harassment, in addition to interviews with former “Today” show employees and others who corroborated details of the incidents.
Among the startling allegations from the report are:
■ Lauer had a button installed underneath his desk that allowed him to lock his office door from the inside remotely, ensuring he would not be interrupted when allegedly making advances on women.
■ In one incident, Lauer allegedly gave a female colleague a sex toy with a note that indicated he wanted to use it on her.
■ In another incident, a woman alleged that Lauer exposed himself to her after she was summoned to his office. According to Variety, Lauer reprimanded the employee when she refused to engage with him.
■ Lauer’s behavior while traveling for the Olympics was bad enough that he reportedly told colleagues his wife accompanied him to the 2012 Games in London because she did not trust him.
■ According to the Variety report, he once asked a woman on his staff to bring a pillow to his hotel room while on assignment for NBC. The sources said he frequently invited female colleagues to his hotel room while on the road for work.
■ The sources who spoke to Variety told the magazine that Lauer had a well-known history of making explicit comments to coworkers and frequently had consensual extramarital affairs with women.
“He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married,” one source told Variety. “So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”
Those who spoke to Variety described a climate of protection around Lauer, who had a $25 million annual salary and a contract with the network through 2018.
Lauer’s departure was announced abruptly Wednesday at the top of the “Today” show broadcast, and the anchor has not commented on the accusations made against him.