It’s been just over a day since a shaken Savannah Guthrie informed Today Show viewers that her former co-host Matt Lauer had been fired due to allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior – the latest, and one of the highest-profile casualties in the widening national reckoning with sexual harassment in the workplace. And now, NBC’s top brass, which said they fired Lauer after an employee filed a complaint about inappropriate behavior that reportedly began during NBC’s coverage in Sochi (and who claim they were blissfully unaware of what was going on) are saying that the number of women accusing Lauer of harassment has risen to eight.
According to Fox, NBC’s Stephanie Gosk revealed to Megyn Kelly during the 9 am hour of “Today” that there could be up to eight accusers, as details surfaced about the star's alleged lewd behavior and old video clips back in circulation raised eyebrows.
There was also this 2012 clip where the former Today co-host Katie Couric told Andy Cohen that Lauer’s most annoying habit was his fondness for pinching her ass.
Somewhat humorously, NBC said it has reached out to area police departments, and the network can "safely report" that there are no open criminal investigations involving Lauer at this time.
“We have reached out to New York City police; we have reached out to police departments in Long Island. We know of no open criminal investigation against Matt Lauer,” Gosk said.
That could change.
One of the most disturbing stories about Lauer’s conduct emerged yesterday when a former NBC employee told the New York Times about a 2001 incident where Lauer called her into his office, asked her to unbutton her blouse, then bent her over his desk and violated her. During the middle of the act, she apparently passed out. He then had one of his assistants take her to a nurse.
haven’t heard anyone call lauer a rapist but this is rape isn’t it? pic.twitter.com/vycEnDFzd8
— Matt E G (@mattegeez) November 30, 2017
The former NBC employee told the Times that Lauer sexually assaulted her, but that she didn’t report it for fear of losing her job.
Another woman told Variety that Lauer had gifted her a sex toy with a graphic description, while another said he exposed himself to her in his office, which reportedly had a door that locked via a button under his desk. A video also surfaced of Lauer telling Meredith Vieira to "keep bending over like that" back in 2006.
In another cringeworthy moment, Meredith Vieira brought up a "huge bag of sex toys" she once found in Matt Lauer's office when Lauer and fellow Today host Savannah Guthrie were guests on Vieira’s talk show. To be sure, Matt was "quick on his feet", and blamed a sex therapist who had appeared on "Today", although his co-hosts don't seem to recall that particular encounter. In light of the latest developments, this anecdote takes on a whole different meaning.
Lauer broke his silence on Thursday morning, and issued a public apology admitting that “there is enough truth to these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."
In an interesting twist to the familiar sexual-harasser script, the New York Times is reporting that the reverberations from Lauer’s firing have made it all the way to New Zealand.
A New Zealand government agency said on Thursday that it was in discussions with Lauer’s representative over his purchase of a 16,000-acre farm there. Foreigners must pass a good-character test to be allowed to buy New Zealand land, and while Lauer’s purchase was approved earlier this year, the country’s Overseas Investment Office is revisiting his case in light of his firing.
Officials from that agency “are seeking further information,” said Lisa Barrett, a spokeswoman for the agency. The agency can require buyers to dispose of the property if it believes the rules have been violated.
We expect more disturbing stories of Lauer’s workplace conduct will emerge in the near future.