Matt Lauer — the longtime host of Today, the prominent face of NBC News, and one of the most powerful and highly-paid men in American media — was swiftly fired on Wednesday after a colleague complained of "inappropriate sexual behavior."
The unidentified woman reported Lauer's behavior to the company on Monday night, NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack told staff in a memo, prompting an immediate investigation.
"It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards," Lack said of Lauer's alleged behavior.
Lauer responded Thursday with a statement saying that while some of what people are saying is "untrue or mischaracterized," "there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."
The statement was read by Savannah Guthrie at the top of Thursday's Today broadcast:
" There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused 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 at 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 people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."
Lack added that while this was the first official complaint against Lauer, "we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
The woman alleged Lauer began behaving inappropriately while in Russia covering the Winter Olympics in 2014, NBC said Thursday.
Two more complaints were made against Lauer on Wednesday, the New York Timesreported. One woman told the newspaper Lauer summoned her to his office in 2001, locked the door, and told her to unbutton her shirt. He then bent her over a chair and had sex with her, the Times reported.
The woman also said she passed out at some point during the incident. She recalled waking up on the office floor, and said Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse. She said she didn't report the incident — which came after Lauer had made inappropriate comments to her on multiple occasions — because she felt helpless because didn't want to lose her job.