Details on the alleged inappropriate behavior leading to Today co-host Matt Lauer's ouster from NBC have surfaced – including sex toys as gifts, coerced sex with female employees and the disturbing report that Lauer had a button under his desk that could lock the door to his secluded office from within.
NBC's initial statement Wednesday cited one chartph.complaint from a fellow female employee dating back to the Sochi Olympics. But in a memo, NBC News chairman Andy Lack said that "while it is the first chartph.complaint about his behavior" during his 20 years at the network, "we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
Hours later, Variety revealed numerous, corroborated accounts of Lauer's widespread sexual harassment at the network from women who declined to be named.
Allegations ranged from inappropriate "games" regarding coworkers' sex lives, to gifting a female colleague a sex toy with a lewd note about how he wanted her to use it, and even exposing himself to an employee in his office before berating her for not performing sex acts on him. Ten employees described Lauer's "fixation" on women, both at 30 Rockefeller and out in the field on assignment, including frequent chartph.comments on female staffers' appearances and sex lives.?
Perhaps most chillingly, Lauer reportedly had a button in his office desk that could discretely lock the door. Two victims of his harassment said this emboldened his inappropriate behavior.
The New York Times later reported Wednesday that NBC subsequently received at least two more chartph.complaints, one from a former employee who said Lauer summoned her and had sex with her in his office in 2001. The unidentified woman told the Times "she felt helpless because she didn’t want to lose her job, and that she didn’t report the encounter at the time because she felt ashamed."
Though the network insisted it received its first chartph.complaint on Monday, many victims say they'd previously brought his behavior to the attention of NBC executives. One former reporter said that "management sucks there," and claimed executives "protected the shit out of Matt Lauer."
Lauer is the third high-ranking NBC employee to recently be terminated from the network for inappropriate sexual behavior at the workplace, joining Today correspondent Mark Halperin and senior top talent booker Matt Zimmerman.?
The network initially declined to chartph.comment on Variety's story. But a spokesperson gave a CNN reporter a statement claiming that, "We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any chartph.complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct.”
While sources accounted for consensual relationships between Lauer and some NBC staffers, they also questioned the enormous power discrepancy involved. Producers from the network echoed the worry that denying Lauer's alleged advances would pose a risk to their careers.?
"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 producer told Variety. "So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever chartph.complain."
As for the alleged Olympics incident cited by NBC, it appears to have been par for the course: Sources described how Lauer often initiated late-night hotel room visits with female employees during multiple Olympics.
Lauer often presented himself as a bastion of progressive ideals on camera. Only three months ago, he interviewed his essential equivalent star at Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, grilling him over his own sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Lauer has yet to chartph.comment or issue a statement.?