A former production assistant with the Today show has come forward to reveal her secret relationship with disgraced TV personality, Matt Lauer. Addie Collins Zinone claims that Lauer cheated on his wife, Annette Roque, with her 16 years ago.
Zinone was only 24-years-old when she had an affair with Lauer, who was 42 at the time, according to US Weekly. The affair started a month after Lauer first sent Zinone, now 41, a message through an instant messaging system used by Today employees.
“Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic,” Lauer supposedly told Zinone. “I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life… but it’s agreeing with you.”
Zinone further claimed that she received the message on June 8, 2000. She was reportedly already working on the show for a couple of years when Lauer started flirting with Zinone.
Addie responded by thanking Lauer for the compliment. Zinone also told Lauer that she was moving to West Virginia in a few weeks because of a new job. Zinone asked Lauer if they could meet so she could get an advice from him before she leaves the show. Lauer reportedly agreed but only contacted Zinone again more than a month later.
On July 12, Lauer allegedly sent Zinone another message telling her that it was “a bit tough to concentrate” because he found her very attractive. Zinone replied to Lauer immediately before asking him if they could get together. Zinone claims that Lauer arranged for them to meet up for lunch.
At lunch, Lauer supposedly flirted with Zinone, which left her “confused and overwhelmed” but flattered.
“He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it,” Zione said. “Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’ In no lunch I’d ever had at Today had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.”
Zinone claimed that she felt like she had “an out of body experience” after their lunch leading her to send Lauer a message once she got back to work. Lauer supposedly responded by asking Zinone to go to his dressing room. Addie apparently knew what Lauer was thinking so she reminded the Today host that he was a married man.
Zinone recalls thinking that they “crossed the line” after Lauer opened the door and she entered the dressing room. At that moment, Zinone thought, “It was a consensual encounter.”
The sexual liaisons happened a number of times since then. Zinone recalled an instance when Lauer asked for her and she thought that she was finally getting some advice regarding her work. When she entered his office, however, Lauer pushed a button which automatically closed the door.
Zinone remembers feeling embarrassed because Lauer’s secretary was just outside the room. What was even more unforgettable for Zinone were the things Lauer wanted her to do for him.
“I was like, ‘No, I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.”
Zinone’s last sexual encounter with Lauer happened in a bathroom where the 2000 Democratic National Convention was held. She left Today soon after that.
Weeks later, a reporter stopped by Zinone’s home and asked her about her relationship with Lauer. Zinone said they were only friends. When she sent Lauer a message asking him if he told anyone about their secret relationship, he supposedly did not reply.
Zinone felt traumatized and later quit her job as a local anchor. She then joined the Army. Maria Menounos was a friend of hers, who was already with Today by the time Zinone was deployed for the second time. Menounos wanted to do a story on Zinone, particularly about a Today anchor fighting in Iraq. NBC allegedly rejected the pitch because “Addie said something bad about the show.”
When Zinone finally returned to Today for a segment on Veterans Day, Lauer was not around.
“Ann [Curry] was interviewing me,” Zinone said. “If Matt was hiding that day, I certainly wasn’t.”
Lauer is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which forced NBC to fire its long-time Today host. While Zinone admitted that the affair was consensual, she said she still felt she was victimized by Lauer because of his abuse of power, as reported by Variety.
“He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful – and those were the production assistants and the interns,” Zinone said.