Katie Couric insists she had no idea former Today show partner Matt Lauer could be involved in the level of sexual misconduct that ended his NBC career.
Nearly two months after Lauer was dumped from the show, Couric is finally speaking out, telling People magazine she was completely shocked and blindsided by allegations that Lauer sexually assaulted and harassed coworkers during his NBC tenure.
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” Couric told People. “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting.”
Couric and Lauer spent several years on the Today show together, with her serving anchor from 1991 to 2006, while he served as co-anchor from 1997 to 2017.
NBC parted ways with Lauer at the end of November, referring to a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior.”
The network’s statement also added it “may not have been an isolated incident.”
In the wake of his dismissal, several other women stepped forward to claim they too were harassed or assaulted by Lauer.
The aftermath has also resulted in Couric being slammed over her perceived silence on the issue, and she told People some of the accounts she has read were “disturbing, distressing and disorienting.”
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” she added. “It’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment.”
Meanwhile, Lauer has publicly apologized for his actions, though he disputed some of the stories that have circulated about his purported behavior.
“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,” he said in a statement.
He later added, “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.”