Matt Lauer issued an apology on Thursday, one day after being ousted as the longtime co-host of NBC’s venerable Today show over sexual misconduct accusations. The disgraced morning TV anchor said he was “truly sorry” to the people he’s hurt, but added that “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized.” The apology came after new revelations emerged overnight shedding light on his misconduct at the network.
Reports by The New York Times and The New York Post painted a clearer picture of what led to the 59-year-old anchor’s abrupt firing, which jolted the Today show and the media world at large, and revealed that NBC executives have received at least two new complaints since Lauer was terminated on Wednesday morning. According to the Post, which cited an anonymous source inside NBC with knowledge of the events that led to Lauer’s firing, the female employee approached network officials with “incontrovertible proof of inappropriate sexual behavior on his part.”
According to the source, the woman, who said the behavior began while the two were in Sochi covering the Olympics in 2014, included lewd text messages and a scandalous photo. The woman, now a junior production employee, was an intern at the time and alleged that the behavior continued when they returned to New York. “There’s at least one picture [sent to her by Matt] which was a major part of the evidence, which is why the firing came so quickly … my understanding was it was so damning that it was unquestionable whether or not he should be fired,” the NBC insider was quoted as having said.
Meanwhile, the Times reported late Wednesday on an incident that occurred back in 2001 with a female colleague who is no longer working at the network. Lauer allegedly called the woman into his office and used a special button fixed underneath his desk to lock the door. He then asked the woman to remove her shirt, which she said she did. Lauer, the woman told the Times, then walked around the desk and sexually assaulted her. The encounter caused her to pass out, and, she said, Lauer instructed his assistant to take her to the NBC nurse’s office for help. The woman, who has requested that her identity not be revealed, said she didn’t report the incident at the time because she felt ashamed and worried that reporting the encounter could result in losing her job. She was in her early forties at the time of the encounter and had been separated from her husband at the time. They later divorced, but she told him about the alleged incident with Lauer, which he then confirmed to reporters from the Times.
Lauer, known and beloved for his squeaky-clean morning TV image, finally broke his silence with an apology on Thursday morning. It was shown to viewers at the top of Thursday’s edition of the Today show. The full statement read as follows:
“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.”
Below, watch how Lauer’s apology was presented to viewers of NBC’s longtime morning show.