and former staffers who asked to remain anonymous.
Among other things, Variety reported allegations that Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy with an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her; that he exposed himself to another female co-worker; that he would question female producers about their sex lives; and that he would talk about which co-hosts he would like to sleep with.
Ari Wilkenfeld, the attorney 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 lawyer did not identify his client.
Messages to Lauer and his agent were not immediately returned, and NBC would not say whether he denied or admitted to any wrongdoing. He is married with three children.
Earlier Wednesday, it was left to Lauer’s shaken “Today” colleagues, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, to break the news to viewers at the top of the morning’s show.
Guthrie appeared to fight back tears as she called Lauer her friend who is beloved by many at NBC. She said she was “heartbroken 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.”
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.”
Lauer 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 Curry.
A forlorn-looking Savannah Guthrie looks out the window while on the set of the “Today” show Wednesday, a day when she had to announce the firing of her co-host, Matt Lauer.