Star newsman Matt Lauer sacked over sexual misconduct claims

Lauer thus joins the ranks of other giants of American film, television and journalism who have fallen amid allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault in a groundswell of outrage that began weeks ago with a flood of charges against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.


                            Star newsman Matt Lauer sacked over sexual misconduct claims

US broadcast giant NBC announced Wednesday it has sacked its star morning news anchor Matt Lauer, making him the latest American media and entertainment titan to fall over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Lauer's co-host Savannah Guthrie announced his termination on air, at the beginning of the "Today" show.

"This is a sad morning here at 'Today' and at NBC News," Guthrie said.

Matt Lauer
Matt Lauer, Jeanne White-Ginder, and Bernie Taupin attend the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Lauer, 59, is a household name for American television viewers as one of the best known faces on popular early morning news shows for many years. 

The network said it fired him after receiving a detailed account from one of Lauer's colleagues of what it called inappropriate sexual behavior on the job.

Lauer thus joins the ranks of other giants of American film, television and journalism who have fallen amid allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault in a groundswell of outrage that began weeks ago with a flood of charges against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Matt Lauer
(L to R) Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie embrace at the end of the show on the set of NBC's Today Show, November 29, 2017 in New York City. It was announced on Wednesday morning that long time Today Show host Matt Lauer had been fired for alleged sexual misconduct. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The wave of allegations has reached Capitol Hill where several sitting lawmakers stand accused of inappropriate behavior, and every day seems to bring another stunning case involving a well known public figure.  

In a memo to staff, NBC chairman Andrew Lack said that on Monday night the network received a detailed complaint about inappropriate behavior by Lauer.

Matt Lauer
Workers break down the outside portrait of the set of NBC's Today Show, November 29, 2017 in New York City. It was announced on Wednesday morning that long time Today Show host Matt Lauer had been fired for sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment," Lack wrote.

Lack said this was the first complaint against Lauer in his more than 20 years with NBC but that the network was provided with evidence suggesting this may not have been an isolated incident. 

O'Reilly, Rose... and now Lauer

President Donald Trump, who himself has been accused of harassment by more than a dozen women, seized on the news hungrily -- "Wow," he wrote -- saying in a tweet that executives at NBC and its parent company Comcast should be fired for "putting out so much Fake News."

Trump was famously embarrassed in the final stretch of last year's presidential campaign by the release of audio in which he is heard boasting that his fame allows him to grab women's genitals and get away with it.

Matt Lauer
Camila Cabello speaks onstage with Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb while wearing an ACLU ribbon on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on September 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

At the time he acknowledged the veracity of the so-called "Access Hollywood" tape and apologized publicly. It was initially thought the revelation could derail his bid for the White House.

Trump has since changed his tone, and told a Republican senator shortly after his election victory that "we don't think it was my voice," the New York Times reported Wednesday, quoting a person familiar with that conversation.

And Trump has continued to suggest that the voice on the tape was not his, the Times said, quoting three people close to the president.

Matt Lauer
A pedestrian walks past the NBC News studios, November 29, 2017 in New York City. It was announced on Wednesday morning that long time Today Show host Matt Lauer had been fired for sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Lauer's sacking comes a week after CBS fired Charlie Rose, until then one of America's most respected TV journalists, after eight women came forward telling the Washington Post he had made unwanted sexual advances toward them.

Rival television giant Fox News has long been rocked by allegations that its late former chairman Roger Ailes and ex-star presenter Bill O'Reilly, who was fired earlier this year, settled multiple cases of sexual harassment brought by female colleagues.

The Lauer case stands out because he was fired even before the misconduct allegations were made public.

CNN reported that the New York Times and Variety magazine had been working for months on stories about alleged sexual misconduct by Lauer.

© Agence France-Presse

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