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“We just learned this moments ago, just this morning. As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this.”
That was Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s Today show, informing viewers on Wednesday morning that Matt Lauer—her co-host, and a mainstay of morning television since 1994—had just been fired for an allegation of sexual misconduct that had been brought against him by a colleague. Guthrie had, seemingly, just heard the news. “I will tell you right now we do not know more than what I just shared with you,” she continued, sitting next to Hoda Kotb, who had been rushed in as an emergency co-host for the segment in Lauer’s absence. (The two women, at the outset, had briefly grasped each other’s hands.) “But we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists. I’m sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come and we promise we will share that with you.”
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The firing was striking—and also misleading—in its swiftness. NBC, according to a memo sent to staff by Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News, learned of an allegation of sexual impropriety against Lauer on Monday evening—one that “represented,” Lack wrote, “a clear violation of our company’s standards.” He added that “this may not have been an isolated incident.” (Indeed: The New York Times seems to also have been reporting on the story, CNN’s Brian Stelter suggested. And Variety, one of its reporters, Elizabeth Wagmeister, noted on Twitter, had been working on a story on Lauer’s accusers “for months,” a story of which NBC, she said, was aware. “There are multiple women we’ve spoken to with far-ranging accusations against Lauer.”) Lauer had in 2016 signed a reportedly $20 million-a-year contract that would have kept him with the show at least into 2018. That high number was a nod to his reputation as “the franchise” at the Today show: an institution, essentially, unto himself. In a September interview with Bill O’Reilly, just after the latter was fired from Fox News for harassment, Lauer noted, now ominously: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire, because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on.”
But the speed of the dismissal—the unceremonious nature of it—was also deeply unsurprising: NBC News, after all, has also been accused of knowing about the Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump bragging about assaulting women (the same one whose validity the president is now questioning) long before its existence was revealed by >The Washington Post in 2016. And it has more recently been criticized, justifiably, for its failure to do more to support its reporter Ronan Farrow’s work revealing the behavior of Harvey Weinstein. (Farrow ultimately took his reporting to The New Yorker, where it has been instrumental in bringing about the very “Weinstein effect” that seems to have felled Lauer.) Earlier this month, Matt Zimmerman—a Today show producer who had worked with and been championed by Lauer—was dismissed from the show for inappropriate conduct with multiple women.
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Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/11/matt-lauer-and-the-today-shows-living-funeral/547001/