During Matt Lauer’s last days at Today, the long-time anchor of the top morning show felt that the “noose was tightening” when his NBC bosses began to repeatedly ask him about his extra-marital relationships including a “suspected dalliance” with frequent Today guest, Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis. While rumors of Lauer’s serial cheating on his wife of 19 years, Annette Roque, were rampant at NBC, the reality was much more serious than cheating.
According to a “NBC source” who spoke to Page Six, unbeknowst to anyone at NBC News, Lauer was “preying on younger staffers” at Today.
“Nobody knew what Matt was doing with the interns and junior producers. It was appalling.”
This all came out in the weeks after the story of Harvey Weinstein’s numerous sexual harassment accusations and worse were reported by the New Yorker.
Soon, a number of reporters from publications such as Variety, The Times and The Enquirer and repeatedly questioned NBC about Matt Lauer’s relationship with Giada de Laurentiis, as well as other junior women who worked at Today. It should be noted that both Giada and Lauer have denied any such relationship.
The reporters heard rumors that NBC was paying Today staff members who had affairs with Matt Lauer, and they asked the network for more information. No one knew exactly what information the reporters had.
“The Times was calling around, saying they were doing a piece on the culture of the Today show, and The Enquirer was asking about settlements paid to female staff members who had affairs with Matt.”
Apparently NBC President Noah Oppenheimer and Chairman Andy Lack asked Lauer “several times” if Lauer had something to tell them.
Lauer reportedly denied any sort of wrongdoing, and allegedly responded a very innocent, “I am racking my brains, but I can’t think of anything.”
Although Matt was not then accused of any misconduct, the insider states that at the Thanksgiving Parade, Lauer stated that this was his last, as he knew he was going to be axed. He felt the pressure of the questions and the post-Weinstein climate.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, Lauer’s first accuser came forward. Her lawyers had “hastily arranged” meeting with NBC human resource at 6 p.m. that evening.
The unidentified woman provided a detailed story of how she had a “sexual relationship” with Lauer at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This “relationship” continued when both returned to New York.
Along with her story was “irrefutable evidence” backing words, believed to be a naked photo of Lauer on her telephone. She also claimed “she wasn’t the only woman” that Matt Lauer had done this to.
“She was a very junior staff member at the time so there was a clear issue of balance of power.”
This led to a “rapid chain of events” according to a second source. NBC knew this was very serious and they needed to take action immediately. They feared that the story would go somewhere else, causing even more potential damage to the reputation of the broadcaster if they did not handle it themselves.
“She had a high-powered attorney from Washington, DC, and so everyone knew if NBC didn’t take swift action, they would have arranged for a sit-down interview with a competitor.”
Despite his self prophecy that the Thanksgiving parade was to be his last, according to the the first Page Six insider, Lauer had “no idea” that November 28 would be his last day on Today.
“He was acting his usual cocky, confident self. He had no idea that this would turn out to be his last day on the show.”
According to the Daily Mail, later that same day, Matt Lauer’s lawyers were meeting with the NBC lawyers, and they quizzed mat about the accusations. “Matt was at first unapologetic, defending himself,” eventually, he admitted that there were two other women, but he insisted that these affairs were consensual.
“He claimed he’d had three consensual affairs in the 25 years at Today.”
According to Page Six, “no decision” was made about Lauer’s future at this particular meeting, yet that evening, Lauer’s close personal friend and NBC Chairman Andy Lack went to his Manhattan apartment to fire him.
According to a third source, Lack was “furious” about this news and he allegedly called out a “quiet” Matt Lauer for “reprehensible” behavior.
Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie were not told of the firing until 4 a.m. the next morning, as they were heading out to 30 Rock in their vehicles. This gave them ample time to register their shock, dry their tears and announce to the world their shocking news.
Although it is known that Matt Lauer has since kept in contact with many of his former Today colleagues, Andrew Lack has allegedly not spoken to his former close personal friend since he fired him in November.
The third NBC insider, who will not give their name for fear of losing their job, explained that Matt does feel “shame,” yet contends that he was not the only person in television doing this, and is angry he is the fall guy.
“Matt is still feeling a lot of shame. But he is angry because he certainly wasn’t the only person in TV doing this, but he has taken the fall.”
Page Six has made a point of contacting NBC as well as Matt Lauer for comments on this story, but NBC News replied that they have”declined to comment, while the representatives for Lauer have not responded at all.