Multiple employees of NBC’s “Today” have accused former co-host Matt Lauer of sexual harassment, with allegations including that he gifted a colleague a sex toy, showed a female employee his penis, and had a button beneath his desk that automatically locked his office door, allowing him to be alone with women without fear of someone walking in unexpectedly.
The revelations were published by Variety hours after NBC announced early Wednesday that Lauer had been fired from “Today.” NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said in a statement an employee filed a complaint against Lauer accusing the longtime anchor of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack said.
Three women accused Lauer of sexual harassment, Variety reported, but multiple women reportedly expressed concerns about Lauer’s behavior to NBC executives. According to 10 accounts from former and current NBC employees, the co-host was obsessed with women’s bodies and looks and also had a reputation for making inappropriate comments in person or over text message, Variety reported.
A “Today” show anchor would reportedly discuss the stories she heard about Lauer with staff, but a former reporter told Variety that NBC executives “protected the shit out of” Lauer.
On one occasion, Lauer gave a female colleague a sex toy as a gift that included a note detailing how he wanted to use it on her.
In another instance, Lauer asked a different female worker to his office, where he took off his pants and showed her his genitalia. Lauer then allegedly scolded the employee after she did not engage in a sexual act.
Lauer also reportedly asked female producers at NBC about who they have sexual relations with and played a game, “fuck, marry, or kill,” with employees in the office. During the game, the “Today” show co-host would name female colleagues he wanted to sleep with.
According to Variety, Lauer’s office at NBC was “in a secluded space.” Underneath his desk, the “Today” co-host reportedly had a button that allowed him to lock the door without ever having to leave his desk.
Two women who accused Lauer of sexual misconduct said the button allowed him to engage in inappropriate behavior without the risk of someone walking in on him.
Other sources at NBC said Lauer would invite female employees to his hotel room while he was covering the Olympics for the network over the years.
Lauer is the latest in a number of high-profile figures — including comedian Louis C.K., journalist and anchor Charlie Rose, and members of Congress such as Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. — who have been accused of sexual misconduct after it was revealed Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein allegedly sexually harassed women for years.