NBC: Lauer said he was “tormenting his brain” but left blank when asked about harassment


NBC announced the termination of "Today" host Matt Lauer on November 29, after receiving a complaint about "inappropriate badual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer." (Monica Akhtar / The Washington Post)

NBC's top news executives asked "Today" co-host Matt Lauer about reports that he had badually harbaded his colleagues, but Lauer repeatedly denied them in the two weeks before his dismissal, according to the people in the network.

Executives, including the president and president of NBC News, received tips from NBC employees, who had received media inquiries about Lauer's alleged misconduct, according to a network executive. When the NBC managers confronted Lauer about the reports, he responded by saying that he was "working hard and could not think of anything," said the executive, who was not authorized to speak for the record.

If The timeline is credible, it means that NBC News President Andy Lack and President Noah Oppenheim did not know of Lauer's alleged misconduct until very recently. The network has maintained that its administration was "blank" on Lauer, who allegedly harbaded his colleagues for more than 15 years.

Lauer, 59, was fired on Wednesday, approximately 36 hours after NBC News received its first formal complaint of harbadment from a network employee. (At least two more women have come forward later.) He became the latest in a long list of prominent men in the news, politics and entertainment whose careers have been affected during the last two months by accusations of badual behavior. inappropriate.

[As ‘Today’ grapples with Matt Lauer’s firing, the question becomes: What’s next?]

A source at NBC News said Friday that Lauer would not be paid after his last day of work, effectively on Tuesday, when Lack informed him that He was fired. It was badumed that his contract of $ 25 million a year, one of the most lucrative in the television business, would extend until the end of next year.

In the days leading up to the dismissal of Lauer, Lack and Oppenheim, as well as other senior officials, the managers interrogated him "several times, in multiple ways, [and] in multiple scenarios" about what had actually become the rumor from the office, caused by reporters from Variety and The New York Times.

The Fix & # 39; s Callum Borchers breaks the recent layoff of NBC Matt Lauer on allegations of badual harbadment. (Jon Gerberg / The Washington Post)

The two publications had contacted NBC News people about Lauer, but had not communicated with NBC News' top executives at the time, the network executive said. NBC News announced the dismissal of Lauer in "Hoy", several hours before Variety and The Times published their stories.

In addition to asking Lauer about the rumored accusations, the network searched for his human resources and legal files to see if there were any complaints or agreements involving Lauer, the network executive said. They did not find any, although Lauer has been the subject of sensationalist rumors about infidelity for years.

The people in the network also shed some light on one of the most spooky aspects of Variety's story: that Lauer had a special button on his desk that allowed him to close and close his office door without getting up, that allowed him to "welcome the employees and initiate inappropriate contact knowing that no one could enter," as Variety put it.

The mechanism was a standard feature at many of the oldest offices at 30 Rockefeller Center, the former corporate headquarters of NBC, according to people familiar with the building's operations. The buttons were installed years ago by General Electric, which owned NBC for years and shared office space with the network.

[So, you had questions about that button on Matt Lauer’s desk?]

The feature was an advantage for senior executives who wanted privacy for personal calls and meetings or as security in case of a calamity, as an active shooter within the building. However, anyone inside that office could leave without using the button. It is unclear how many people at NBC News had offices equipped with the device.

In a memo to employees on Friday, Lack called Lauer's behavior "appalling" and said the network would undertake a review of "what happened and what we can do." to create a culture of greater transparency, openness and mutual respect. "The review will be overseen by people from the human and legal resources departments of NBC."

The offense also said the news division would expand its training on badual harbadment.

Lauer issued a statement Thursday that said In part: "There are no words to express my regret and regret for the pain I caused to others with words and actions. To the people that I have hurt, I am very sorry. As I write this I realize the depth of the damage and the disappointment that I left behind at home and on NBC. "

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