(CNN Noney) Matt Lauer was fired from NBC News on Wednesday after an employee filed a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network announced.
Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of the “Today” show. “We are devastated,” she said.
The “Today” show is one of the most popular and most profitable franchises on American television. Lauer was the cornerstone of the program for two decades.
So his sudden ouster came as a shock to viewers — but not as a complete surprise to his “Today” show colleagues. They knew that multiple news outlets were investigating Lauer’s off-camera conduct.
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in an early morning memo to staff that the complaint was filed on Monday night. Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his career at the network. But he also said “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Indeed, Lack and other NBC News executives have known for weeks that damaging stories could be coming out soon.
Reporters for The New York Times have been investigating Lauer for weeks, according to sources who had been contacted by the Times.
And Variety’s New York bureau chief Ramin Setoodeh said on Twitter that he and his colleague Elizabeth Wagmeister have been doing reporting “about serious sexual harassment allegations against Lauer” for two months.
“NBC was aware” of the reporting, Wagmeister tweeted. “There are multiple women we’ve spoken to with far-ranging accusations against Lauer. The power of journalism has never been more evident with this cultural change.”
An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the information in Lack’s memo.
A spokeswoman for Lauer said he has no comment at this time. Lauer may release a statement later on Wednesday.
Lauer was informed of the network’s decision late Tuesday night, before he went to bed, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
And Guthrie, his co-host for the past five years, was told overnight.
“We were both woken up with the news kind of predawn,” Guthrie’s co-host Hoda Kotb said.“And we’re trying to process it and make sense of it. And it will take some time for that.”
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