It appeared until recently that Matt Lauer had been blindsided by accusations of sexual misconduct that cost him his job as Today show co-anchor, but a new report in Page Six reveals that Lauer felt the noose tightening for weeks beforehand, and was aware that both Variety and the New York Times were preparing to publish stories about the climate at NBC.
Page Six reports that Lauer was overheard telling a co-worker during this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that he felt his days were numbered.
A source told Page Six that Lauer was overheard saying, “This is going to be my last parade.”
Within a week, he had lost his multimillion-dollar contract with NBC, and it appears unlikely that his marriage to Annette Roque will survive the scandal.
By Thanksgiving, Lauer and the network had been made aware that Variety was working on a story although no one was certain what the report would be about. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, executives had to take seriously the possibility that one of their own might be facing accusations.
“The [New York] 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,” as source told Page Six.
NBC President Noah Oppenheimer and Chairman Andy Lack, a friend of Lauer’s who eventually fired him, reportedly asked Lauer repeatedly if there was anything to be concerned about.
Although Lauer had long been suspected of having affairs in the workplace, he initially denied any type of misbehavior.
“I am racking my brains, but I can’t think of anything,” Lauer reportedly told his bosses.
But on Monday, November 27, the house of cards began to fall. A current NBC staffer lawyered up and claimed that she and Lauer had a sexual affair three years earlier.
“She told them she had a sexual relationship with Matt during the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and it continued when they returned to New York,” a source told Page Six.
“She was a very junior staff member at the time so there was a clear issue of balance of power.”
The accuser also reportedly said “that she wasn’t the only woman he’d done this to.”.
When confronted and questioned about his conduct, Lauer was reportedly defiant at first, insisting that in his 25 years at the network, he had three consensual affairs.
But as he learned more details about the allegations, Lauer stopped his denials.
“He became quiet and didn’t argue,” adds the first insider. “He accepted that it didn’t look good.”
On November 30, after Andy Lack personally visited Lauer at his apartment and told him he no longer had a job, Lauer issued a statement.
“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.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Lauer’s wife Annette Roque is believed to have kicked him out of their Sag Harbor home and met with divorce lawyers. Lauer is reportedly staying at another home in the area, and the two were seen this week arriving separately to their horse farm.
[Feature image: Associated Press/Matt Lauer]