MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski sparred on the air Thursday morning about exactly what they knew about NBC's Matt Lauer, who was fired Wednesday amid accusations that he used his power at the network to sexually harass and assault women.
The "Morning Joe" hosts, who are engaged to be married, started the morning by saying they and others knew that Lauer pursued various women at work.
"I've always heard stories about, you know, him kind of fooling around or whatever," Brzezinski said. Scarborough said he attended a Friars Club event several years ago for a roast of Lauer, and said many jokes were made about his sexual pursuits at work.
"The most powerful people in media, and everybody that came up were making fun of Matt Lauer, not pushing himself on people, but the whole thing was, he does his show and then he has sex with people, with employees," Scarborough said.
"So was this whispered behind closed doors? No, it was shouted from the mountaintops and everybody laughed about it," he added.
But later, when Brzezinski repeated that everyone knew about Lauer, Scarborough backtracked, and said many didn't know the extent to which Lauer tried to intimidate women and even trap women in his office by locking his door.
"This seemed like something everybody really thought they knew," Brzezinski said. "I mean, there's not a person, I think, who worked in and around the sphere of Matt Lauer who had not heard these things ..."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, I've got to correct you there," Scarborough said. "Never heard about a lock on a door. Nobody that I know of ever heard of a lock on the door. Nobody heard of him pushing himself on women."
Scarborough said people in the office on Wednesday were predicting that 14 famous women would be revealed as Lauer's sexual partners. "Because that's what you heard about Matt Lauer, was, oh, he was with all these powerful women and women on the 'Today' show and this, that, the other," he said.
But Scarborough interrupted Brzezinski to say they all need to be careful about saying they knew about the extent to which Lauer pursued women.
"You've got to be careful when you say that we knew about this stuff," he said. "There is a difference between philandering and being a predator. The stories we all heard was that Matt was a philanderer. I never heard a story that he was a predator. ... The deeply offensive stories that he would hold women that worked for him, and they would be weeping ... let me finish, because we need to have this conversation, OK?" he said, interrupting her a third time.