Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of Wednesday’s “Today” show. Last week, CBS News fired Charlie Rose after complaints from several women who worked for him.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the network had received a complaint from a colleague on Monday night, and a review determined it was a clear violation of company standards. While it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer, Lack said in a memo to staff that “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Lauer, 59, has hosted “Today” for two decades. When paired with Katie Couric, “Today” was the longtime ratings leader and was highly lucrative for NBC. It now runs second in the ratings to ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Many “Today” show viewers took out their anger for the unsightly firing of co-host Ann Curry on Lauer, sending the show plunging in the ratings. But NBC stuck with Lauer and the show had steadied with his pairing with Guthrie. The show runs for four hours, with Lauer and Guthrie hosting the first two.
He joins a lengthening list of media figures felled by sexual misconduct charges this year. Besides Rose, they include Lauer’s former NBC News colleague Mark Halperin, former Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and National Public Radio newsroom chief Michael Oreskes. The New York Times suspended White House correspondent Glenn Thrush last week.
Lack, in his memo, said that “we are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
“This is a sad day for us at the ‘Today’ show and NBC News,” Guthrie said when she repeated the news on the air at 7:30.
On Twitter Wednesday, President Donald Trump said “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News.”