Veteran “Today” co-host Matt Lauer has been fired by NBC News following a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network announced Wednesday.
The announcement was made at the top of the “Today” show, which he joined full-time in 1994 as news anchor and then as co-host three years later. “I am heartbroken,” said Savannah Guthrie, who has served as co-anchor for the last five years.
In a memo to employees, NBC News chairman Andy Lack said that he had received a “detailed complaint” from a staffer on Monday night.
“It represented, after serious review a clear violation of our company’s standards,” Lack wrote. “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.”
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 29, 2017
Lack continued, “Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.”
A rep for Lauer did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Lauer, the longest-serving “Today” host in history, last year snagged a $20 million annual payday to extend his contract, according to the New York Post.
In recent years, Lauer has become a lightning rod for criticism. Last September, he was excoriated on both the left and the right for his handling of a prime-time forum between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton supporters, in particular, blasted him for frequently interrupting the candidate and chiding her to state her points “as briefly as you can.”
Over the summer of 2016, the long-married Lauer felt compelled to deny widely reported rumors of an affair with former “Today” personality Natalie Morales.
He was also widely blamed — perhaps unfairly — for engineering the ouster of former co-host Ann Curry, who left the program with a tearful and awkward on-air goodbye in 2012.