An explosive new report alleges that Matt Lauer exhibited a longstanding pattern of sexually predatory behavior at NBC, beyond the allegations earlier this week that led to his firing as co-anchor of the Today show — and sources claim that NBC executives ignored the rumors and allegations.
Variety interviewed multiple current and former NBC employees who claimed to have been witnesses to or victims of Lauer’s alleged misconduct. In one case, he allegedly called a female employee into his office and dropped his pants, exposing his genitals. When the woman refused to engage with his proposition, he reportedly reprimanded her.
Wednesday’s Variety report was the culmination of two months of interviews, which the magazine likely published earlier than planned in light of Wednesday’s news about Lauer. The Variety reporters spoke to three women who claimed they had been sexually harassed by Lauer, and no one interviewed for the story was willing to go on the record for fear of professional repercussions.
From the Variety report:
Insiders say that NBC was forced to act quickly after this week’s complaint, given the severity of the accusations and the national dialogue around sexual harassment that has ended the careers of Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and other prominent men. Now, against a series of questions about the future of Today a troubling portrait has emerged of Lauer. In front of the camera, for more than two decades, Lauer had positioned himself as America’s squeaky-clean dad. But behind the scenes, Lauer was a different person.
Despite being married, Lauer was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks, according to more than 10 accounts from current and former employees. He was known for making lewd comments verbally or over text messages. He once made a suggestive reference to a colleague’s performance in bed and compared it to how she was able to complete her job, according to witnesses to the exchange. For Lauer, work and sex were intertwined.
Among the shocking revelations in the story, Lauer reportedly had a button installed under his desk that remotely locked his office door from the inside. Two women who have accused Lauer of sexual harassment told Variety that the that locking device was in place to ensure no one could walk in on Lauer while he was engaging in inappropriate behavior.
According to the report, Lauer was known to habitually make sexually-charged jokes at work, and behaved inappropriately while traveling on assignment, inviting female employees he found attractive to join him in his hotel room late at night.
Multiple sources told Variety that Lauer’s behavior was well-known at high levels within the organization, and was largely ignored.
“Management sucks there,” a former reported said.
“They protected the sh** out of Matt Lauer.”
Lauer has not yet publicly commented on the allegations.
[Feature image: Associated Press]