Matt Lauer of ‘To­day’ fired for al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio cuts loose Keil­lor

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID BAUDER AP ME­DIA WRITER

NEW YORK — NBC News fired “To­day” show host Matt Lauer for what it said Wed­nes­day was “in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­ior” with a col­league, mak­ing him per­haps the most fa­mil­iar fig­ure in Amer­ica brought down so far by the mis­con­duct ac­cu­sa­tions that have swept through Hol­ly­wood and the me­dia over the past two months.

Also, for­mer“Prairie Home Com­pan­ion” host Gar­ri­son Keil­lor was cut loose by Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio over an al­le­ga­tion of “in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior.” Keil­lor, 75, said he in­ad­ver­tently put his hand on a woman’s bare back in an at­tempt to con­sole her.

NBC news chief An­drew Lack said in a memo to the staff that the net­work re­ceived a com­plaint about Lauer’s be­hav­ior on Mon­day and de­ter­mined it was a clear vi­o­la­tion of com­pany stan­dards. NBC said the mis­con­duct started when Lauer and a net­work em­ployee were at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and con­tin­ued be­yond that as­sign­ment.

Lack said it was the first com­plaint ever lodged against Lauer, but “we were also pre­sented with rea­son to be­lieve this may not have been an iso­lated in­ci­dent.”

Lauer, one of the most­liked and high­est-paid fig­ures in the TV news in­dus­try, be­comes the sec­ond morn­ing host in a week to lose his job over sex­ual mis­con­duct alle- gations. CBS fired Char­lie Rose af­ter sev­eral women who worked for him com­plained about his be­hav­ior.

Mes­sages to Lauer and his agent were not im­me­di­ately re­turned, and the net­work would not say whether he de­nied or ad­mit­ted to any wrong­do­ing. He is mar­ried with three chil­dren.

Lauer, 59, has es­sen­tially been the king of tele­vi­sion morn­ing news since first be­ing paired with Katie Couric on “To­day” in 1997. For many years, “To­day” was the un­ques­tioned rat­ings leader, un­til it was eclipsed by ABC’ s“Good Morn­ing Amer­ica” fol­low­ing the ugly 2012 fir­ing of Lauer’s co-host Ann Cur ry. The show had sta­bi­lized in re­cent years with Lauer’s pair­ing with Sa­van­nah Guthrie.

Laue r’ s“Wherein the world is Matt Lauer?” seg­ments were pop­u­lar for years, and he was used by NBC for other events. He had been sched­uled to host the net­work’s cov­er­age of the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter Christmas tree light­ing cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day evening.

He joins a length­en­ing list of me­dia fig­ures felled by sex­ual mis­con­duct ac­cu­sa­tions this year. Be­sides Rose, they in­clude Lauer’s NBC News col­league Mark Halperin, Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio news­room chief Michael Oreskes. The New York Times sus­pended White House cor­re­spon­dent Glenn Thrush last week.

Ari Wilken­feld, the lawyer for Lauer’s ac­cuser, praised NBC for act­ing “quickly and re­spon­si­bly” in re­sponse to the morn­ing host’ s“egre­gious acts of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and mis­con­duct .” The at­tor­ney did not iden­tify his client.

Lack, in his memo, said, “We are deeply sad­dened by this turn of events. But we will face it to­gether as a news or­ga­ni­za­tion — and do it in as trans­par­ent a man­ner as we can.”

As for Keil­lor, Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio said it will end dis­tri­bu­tion of the ra­dio pro­gram“The Writer’ s Al­manac,” Keil­lor’s daily read­ing of a poem and telling of lit­er­ary events, and end re­broad­casts of old “Prairie Home Com­pan­ion” episodes.

“I meant to pat her back af­ter she told me about her un­hap­pi­ness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She re­coiled. I apol­o­gized. I sent her an email of apol­ogy later and she replied that she had for­given me and not to think about it,” Keil­lor said in an email to the Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune. “We were friends. We con­tin­ued to be friendly right up un­til her

lawyer called.”

At NBC, Lauer’s for mer “To­day” col­leagues, Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, an­nounced the fir­ing on the show Wed­nes­day morn­ing shortly af­ter be­ing told them­selves.

Guthrie ap­peared to fight back tears as she called Lauer her friend who is beloved by many at NBC, and said she was“heart bro­ken for my col­league who came for­ward to tell her story and any other women who have their own sto­ries to tell.”

“How do you rec­on­cile your love for some­one with the rev­e­la­tion that they have be­haved badly? I don’t know the an­swer to that ,” she said. “But I do know that this reck­on­ing that so many or­ga­ni­za­tions have been go­ing through is im­por­tant, it’s long over­due and it must re­sult in work­places where all women, all peo­ple, feel safe and re­spected.”

Later in the show, NBC’s Megyn Kelly, who has writ­ten about be­ing sex­u­ally ha­rassed by for­mer boss Roger Aile sat Fox News Chan­nel, noted the an­guish on the faces of her col­leagues but said, “What we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come for­ward, and it is still a ter­ri­fy­ing thing to do.”

Natalie Mo­rales, a for­mer “To­day” show col­league who left the show for “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” last year, said she was in shock about the story. She re­ferred to sto­ries that said she and Lauer had an af­fair, which they both de­nied.

“I have per­son­ally dealt with ru­mors in the past few years that were hurt­ful to me and to my fam­ily,” she said. “They di­min­ished my hard work. I’ve ad­dressed th­ese ru­mors head-on in the past. It’ s not the story to­day.”

On Twit­ter, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said, “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­ior in the work­place.’ But when will the top ex­ec­u­tives at NBC & Com­cast be fired for putting out so much Fake News.”

Another for mer “To­day” host, Deb­o­rah Norville, said she was stunned by the news.

“As a jour­nal­ist, it’s up­set­ting to see another from our ranks caught up in th­ese kinds of scan­dals. But as we’ve seen, no pro­fes­sion is im­mune,” she said. “Sadly, I doubt if any­one will be sur­prised if there are sim­i­lar head­lines to come.”


Co-an­chors Al Roker, from left, Sa­van­nah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb sit on the set of the of the “To­day” show Wed­nes­day in New York, af­ter NBC News fired host Matt Lauer.



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