Matt Lauer breaks silence on sexual assault allegations
Fired 'Today' show host releases statement saying he's 'truly sorry.'
The number of women alleging Matt Lauer was sexually inappropriate has grown to "as many as eight" as NBC denies the network's execs knew about Lauer's alleged behavior until a meeting earlier this week.
NBC’s Stephanie Gosk revealed to Megyn Kelly during the 9 a.m. hour of “Today” that there could be up to eight women who have accused Lauer as of Thursday morning.
“We have reached out to New York City Police; we have reached out to police departments in Long Island. We know of no open criminal investigation against Matt Lauer,” Gosk said.
Gosk noted some of the women being interviewed by news outlets could overlap since they have declined to share their names.
“Because they are anonymous we don’t know if any of the people who spoke to Variety also spoke to The New York Times… We don’t know if any of them are the same women.”
The most horrifying incident allegedly involving Lauer, which was recapped by Gosk and former Fox News anchor Kelly, is a story from a woman who told The New York Times Lauer had intercourse with her in his office at NBC’s headquarters until she passed out and had to be seen by a nurse. She described the incident to The Times as an assault.
Another woman told Variety Lauer gifted her a sex toy with a graphic description and another one said Lauer exposed himself to her in his office, which reportedly had a door that locked via a button Lauer could control beneath his desk.
Kelly recounted the allegations against her former “Today” colleague and stated, “We offer the details not to be salacious but because you are entitled to know for yourself whether you think this is harassment or not… You are entitled to make your own decisions about whether you think those allegations qualify.”
Several people told Variety they complained to personnel at NBC but their complaints were ignored.
Kelly said during “Today” on Thursday, “So now there will be an examination about… what qualifies as a complaint: human resources, versus going to a producer…"
NBC denies that it received any complaints regarding Lauer until Monday evening. They say they swiftly fired him upon hearing about an incident that began during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
"We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct,” a spokesperson for the network said Wednesday.
Lauer said he is "truly sorry" on Thursday in a statement shared on the "Today" show. He admitted some of the rumors about him are true.
"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," he said. "I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly."
The Variety piece quoted a former NBC reporter as saying that show executives "protected the s–t out of Matt Lauer."
NBC Chariman Andy Lack announced Lauer's firing on Wednesday in a statement to staff moments before “Today” went on the air. Co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb appeared shaken as they announced the news to viewers.
An emotional Guthrie admitted "we just learned this moments ago" and said the "Today" team is "devastated and we are still processing all of this."
But a source insisted to Variety that at least some insiders at NBC knew Lauer was up to no good.
"I don’t know what everyone is so surprised by," the source told Variety. "This has been going on for months and months and everybody knew it and it was just going to be which girl came forward, and who reported it first."
Another source echoed similar sentiments in when speaking with the New York Post, "Everybody knew about Matt’s behavior, and everyone had to put up with it because he was so powerful, and well protected by management.”