After it was announced Wednesday morning that NBC fired longtime “Today” anchor Matt Lauer over “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” President Donald Trump swiftly tweeted “Check out Andy Lack’s past!”
NBC News chairman Andy Lack released a statement about Lauer’s ouster, saying “while it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” the statement read. “It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards,” Lack said in the memo to staff. “As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.”
But what did NBC News know about the allegations against Lauer that led them to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident”?
Lack, 70, is the chairman of both NBC News and MSNBC. He was the president of NBC News from 1993 to 2001, according to The New York Times, and returned as the head of NBC and MSNBC in March 2015. He also has served as a news producer for CBS, as well as the CEO of Bloomberg Media Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
There’s reason to believe that Lack and others in the top echelon of NBC News knew about the allegations against Lauer because reporters from at least three media organizations were working on stories about it, according to reporters.
CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted Wednesday that “NBC News management knew about both the NYT and Variety investigations” into allegations of sexual misconduct against Lauer.
Ramin Setoodeh, the New York Bureau Chief for Variety, said he and another reporter had been working on a story about “serious sexual harassment allegations against Lauer.”
He added in another tweet that “NBC was aware that Variety was working on a bombshell story about sexual harassment allegations against Matt Lauer.”
Stelter said on CNN Wednesday morning that he doesn’t “know the details of what the New York Times may or may not have” regarding Lauer.
And Yashar Ali, a reporter for New York Magazine and The Huffington Post, wrote that “(Setoodeh), The New York Times, myself, and others have been working on stories. Some top executives at NBC were aware of these stories.”
“I, and other reporters , have been aware of several women who have come forward privately in the past few months ...even before Weinstein,” he wrote in another tweet. “They weren’t willing to go public though...they were terrified of Matt.”
Page Six reported that Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted an NBC staffer during the 2014 Olympics.
Former CBS morning show anchor Charlie Rose and other media figures have lost their jobs in recent weeks over sexual harassment allegations, since a New York Times expose on Harvey Weinstein led to a movement of women coming forward about mistreatment in the workplace.
It is unclear what President Trump was referencing in Lack’s past.