Matt Lauer Breaks Silence on Sexual Misconduct Claims

Matt Lauer
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

 Matt Lauer attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 13th Annual An Enduring Vision Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 28, 2014 in New York City. 

NBC News' "Today Show" released the statement from the former co-host at the top of Thursday's (Nov. 30) show.

Matt Lauer has broken his silence on the sexual harassment and assault claims made against him yesterday (Nov. 29).

The former Today co-host released the following statement that was read by Savannah Guthrie at the top of Thursday's (Nov. 30) show: "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."

Lauer was fired by NBC News early Wednesday after a complaint from an employee about "inappropriate sexual behavior" in the workplace at the hands of Lauer in 2014. Lauer's longtime home of Today broke that news at the top of Wednesday's show, with co-host Savannah Guthrie looking visibly distressed and joined by 10 a.m. co-host Hoda Kotb. The employee, who not yet been identified, made her complaint on Monday night (Nov. 27) about alleged inappropriate behavior that began at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Hours after Lauer's termination, a report in Variety included anonymous accusations of sexual harassment from three additional women. And The New York TImes reported that NBC News received at least two additional complaints about Lauer, something that NBC itself confirmed in its report on Lauer on Thursday's Today. A former employee told the Times that in 2001 she was sexually assaulted by the anchor.

On Thursday's Today, Guthrie was again joined by Kotb as her temporary co-host and the show began with the latest news about Lauer. After Guthrie read Lauer's statement, she threw to correspondent Stephanie Gosk, who delivered her report on the latest developments.

Gosk characterized Lauer, an anchor on Today for more than 20 years, as "one of the most high-profile faces of the sexual harassment firestorm engulfing this country." She also cited reports about Lauer, stating that "several more women have leveled sexual misconduct allegations" against her former colleague.

She also reiterated Wednesday morning's news — Lauer's firing and the statement from NBC News' Andy Lack — and featured a statement from the accuser's attorney, Natalie Morales' reaction on Access Hollywood and Trump's tweets about the Lauer news.

Gosk also noted that Lauer was supposed to co-host Wednesday night's Rockefeller Center tree lighting but wasn't there, with Kotb again filling in. Thursday's Today began with a live shot of the illuminated Rockefeller Center Christmas tree before Kotb switched gears from the celebratory sight saying, "It is a difficult morning here again."

At the top of the 8 o'clock hour, Gosk again reported on the Lauer news, with a similar video package. This time she read Lauer's statement. By that time, the statement had been circulated wide, and rival morning shows Good Morning America and CBS This Morning both shared Lauer's remarks with their viewers on ABC and CBS and via the shows' Twitter accounts.

On Good Morning America, Robin Roberts, flanked by George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan, introduced the latest news about Lauer at the top of the ABC morning show. She threw to Linsey Davis, who delivered the show's report on the latest Lauer developments, with ABC going into more detail than NBC did about the specific allegations made about Lauer. She did say at the beginning of her report, "some of the details that have emerged are simply too graphic for morning television."

But she noted the report of him allegedly giving a colleague a sex toy as a present with a note about how he wanted to use it, him allegedly exposing himself in his office to another employee and that he allegedly had a button under his desk that he could use to lock his office door. And she highlighted from the Times report that the woman who alleged Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office said that the encounter ended with her passing out and having Lauer's assistant take her to a nurse.

The package led with his exit casting a shadow over the Rockefeller Center tree lighting and cited Lauer's lucrative NBC salary. GMA spoke to New York Times reporter Ellen Gabler in its videotaped report on Lauer. GMA also said Lauer's "illustrious career" with NBC had included "plum assignments" like co-hosting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and interviews with high-profile politicians and celebs, airing a clip of Lauer's infamous "glib" interview with Tom Cruise and his questioning of Bill O'Reilly.

GMA also aired some of the troubling videos of Lauer that surfaced, including one from 2006, which TMZ obtained, in which he comments on an employee's appearance. And the rival morning show noted that Lauer had been scrubbed from NBC's social media accounts. Stephanopoulos then read Lauer's statement and interviewed two reporters who'd been covering the Lauer news.

On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King were joined at the table by Bianna Golodryga and Vladimir Duthiers. Golodryga, alluding to the sexual misconduct claims against former CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose said the Lauer news was "deja vu all over again."

She identified him as the "longest-running host on the longest-running morning show on network TV. But he's now off the air and out of a job because of how he allegedly acted when the cameras were off." CBS This Morning then launched into a video package on the latest about Lauer, with an NBC source telling CBS that he was fired at 10 p.m. on Tuesday night. The report included the previously reported details about the claim that led to his termination and the additional claims reported by other outlets on Wednesday.

After the report, the women and Duthiers took time to reflect. "Our thoughts are with Savannah [Guthrie] and our colleagues over at NBC, and they're with the women who had to endure all of this," Golodryga said. King chimed in: "And with Matt's wife. I'm thinking about her during this difficult time. And his three children, who are certainly old enough to read and follow all of this. It's just a very sad story for everyone involved."

Duthiers also reflected on what the alleged victims of harassment and assault must have had to go through. "Think about these young women who looked up to these towering media figures and were in some cases heartbroken and humiliated by these people that they admired and they felt trapped in these situations," he said.

O'Donnell, who used to work at NBC News, said she was particularly distressed by the many talented women who've left journalism and other professions because of experiences of harassment and assault. "I mentioned this last week, women will not achieve full equality in the workplace until there's a reckoning and taking of responsibility. The point is that many women have left journalism because of treatment like this," she said. "That's the story I keep hearing over and over again, and that's true in many other fields.That's the painful thing is that good, good people have left professions and wanted to stay in them."

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