Matt Lauer admitted to ‘sexual activity’ with intern says NBC report17 min read

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The NBC News workplace investigation into Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct is complete after six months, and the findings were shared with staff at the network on Wednesday.

The report reveals that on November 22, a ‘complainant alleged that Matt Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with her on several occasions in 2014.’

One day later, Lauer was asked about the claims being made by the employee.

‘During the interview, Lauer admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the complainant,’ states the report.

‘The Company determined that his conduct violated Company policy and terminated Lauer’s employment on November 28, effective immediately.’

The report also revealed that NBC has cleared all senior employees and found no proof that any current executives had knowledge of Lauer’s misconduct.

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Admission of guilt: Lauer confessed to 'engaging in sexual activity' with an NBC employee, which led to the network's decision to terminate him in November

Admission of guilt: Matt Lauer confessed to ‘engaging in sexual activity’ with an NBC employee, which led to the network’s decision to terminate him in November

Finding: Soon after, three other women 'alleged that Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with them in 2000, 2001 and 2007'

Finding: Soon after, three other women ‘alleged that Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with them in 2000, 2001 and 2007’

In the wake of Lauer’s firing, more women came forward.

‘Within the two weeks after Lauer’s termination was announced publicly by NBC News on November 29, 2017, the Company received information about three additional women, who each alleged that Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with them in 2000, 2001 and 2007, respectively,’ states the report. 

The report was sent along with a memo from Andy Lack, the Chairman of NBC Universal.

‘The last few months have been extraordinarily difficult, with our dedicated journalists doing some of our best work ever while we endured a painful period in the spotlight including a thorough and deserved examination,’ read the memo. 

‘This has been felt by everyone in the organization, most importantly several of our colleagues who were deeply affected. I admire their bravery and am profoundly grateful for their candor.’

Lack then stated: ‘When we first told you about the decision to dismiss Matt Lauer, I said we had been presented with “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” As you will see in the report, that turned out to be the case.’

The CEO of Universal, Steve Burke, instructed General Counsel Kim Burke to launch her investigation to determine three things, whether ‘any current members of NBC News or Today Show leadership, News HR or anyone else in a position of authority in the News Division had any information about inappropriate workplace behavior by Lauer prior to November 27, 2017, and, if so, what, if anything, was done to address the behavior; there have been other incidents of inappropriate workplace behavior in the News Division, and if so, whether such incidents were reported and addressed appropriately; and employees in the News Division are comfortable reporting concerns about workplace behavior, and if not, why not.’

Investigators ‘found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or Today Show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to November 27, 2017.’

That discovery was bolstered by the four women who came forward as they all revealed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone in a position of authority.

One of the women did reveal that she told a manager about an ‘inappropriate interaction with Lauer where he placed his hand on her thigh and made a sexually suggestive comment.’

That was in 1996, and she was removed from assignments with Lauer from some time before her 2001 sexual encounter with the host. 

This does however contradict a recent claim made by Ann Curry, which the report addresses as a footnote.

‘Ann Curry has stated in the press that, in 2012, a woman came to her claiming that Lauer had sexually harassed her and that Curry then told management at the time that they should be concerned about Lauer’s behavior toward women,’ reads the report. 

‘In a discussion with the investigation team, Curry confirmed that she did not disclose to anyone in management that she had received a specific complaint. Curry declined to share with the investigation team the identity of anyone in management with whom she spoke at the time or the identity of the woman who came to her with a complaint about Lauer.’

That footnote closes out by stating: ‘The members of NBC News and Today Show leadership at the time with whom we spoke denied having any such conversation with Curry.’

Two of the four women also told investigators that they were of the belief that ‘former NBC News or Today Show leadership knew or must have known about Lauer’s alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’

It is then noted in the report that all ‘former leaders’ interviewed ‘denied any such knowledge’ and that the investigation was ‘unable to otherwise substantiate it.’

A number of people that were interviewed also remarked about comments and jokes made about Lauer.

‘The investigation team also found that Lauer frequently engaged in sexual banter or joking in open working environments with other employees present or in a position to overhear his comments,’ states the report. 

‘While the nature and frequency of that conduct did not rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment, and no witnesses described it as such, it may have contributed to an atmosphere where some employees who may have had concerns assumed nothing would be done to address them, particularly given Lauer’s perceived importance to the News Division.’

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The investigation also did not rely on interviews alone.

‘The investigation team also conducted targeted email account searches and reviews, including the email accounts of Lauer and NBC News and Today Show leadership, reviewed text messages on Lauer’s work-issued phones, and reviewed other relevant documents and information,’ stated the report.

‘BCUniversal Legal department records and HR records for both NBCUniversal and the News Division were reviewed, together with records from the Comcast NBCUniversal complaint helplines and web portal, to determine whether there were any prior complaints about Lauer.’

Report: Ann Curry would not tell investigators the name of the person she reported Lauer to after a woman told her she had been harassed by the newsman

Report: Ann Curry would not tell investigators the name of the person she reported Lauer to after a woman told her she had been harassed by the newsman

One of the women who engaged in sexual activity with Lauer, Addie Collins Zinone, spoke about her month-long affair in interviews last year.

That incident occurred in 2000 when she was just a 24-year-old production assistant at Today.

While Zinone said the relationship was consensual, she added that the power dynamics had made her later regret the relationship. 

She said that Katie Couric helped get her a job at Today right out of college and that she and Lauer had a professional working relationship right up until her last weeks on the show.

It all changed around June 2000, when Zinone got an instant message from Lauer one day, complimenting her on her appearance. 

At the time, Lauer was already married to his second wife, Annette Roque.

‘It said, “wow, you look great.” I don’t remember verbatim. “Whatever you’re doing with your life, it’s agreeing with you,”‘ Zinone recalled in an interview on Megyn Kelly Today. 

‘I thought, well, that’s nice.’

Zinone went on to thank Lauer for the compliment. She then took the opportunity to let him know she was leaving the show soon to start a reporting job in West Virginia. She asked if she might be able to chat with him before she left to get some career advice, and Lauer agreed. 

Zinone said a month went by without any word from Lauer. Then he sent her another awkward message.

‘One day, I got another message that said, “Okay, now you’re killing me. You look great today. It’s a bit tough to concentrate,”‘ Zinone told Megyn.

‘And my first reaction was, is this really you? Did somebody sit down and steal your log-in?’ she said.

Zinone said Lauer insisted that it was him and said: ‘I hope you don’t take me to personnel for saying this’.

Zinone took the opportunity to remind Lauer that she was leaving again and if he wanted to have the conversation they planned. So the next day he set up lunch.

But the lunch did not go as Zinone planned. 

‘During the lunch, it didn’t go to professional advice. It went quickly to accomplishing his goal. And I realized that,’ she said.

She says she knew what his intentions were when he asked that they leave the lunch separately.

Back at the office, Zinone said she was overwhelmed by a feeling of confusion. 

‘I was trying to be normal. I’m a P.A. back to the office. All this nervous energy and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was confused. I thought, what is happening?’ she said.

So she messaged Lauer, telling him how she was feeling ‘really nervous’ and he suggested that she come meet him in his dressing room.

It was there that they had their first sexual encounter.

‘I realize that sounds very naive and silly of me because I walked over there to do that. In that moment, I didn’t have anybody to sort of share my fears and confusion with, except for him. What am I going to say to people? This just happened,’ she said.

She said their sexual relationship lasted for about a month, then she went to West Virginia to start her new job. 

Their first sexual encounter lasted approximately 10 minutes according to Zinone, and the last occurred in the bathroom at a convention center she said.

Assistant: One of the women who engaged in sexual activity with Lauer, Addie Collins Zinone (above with Lauer in 2000), spoke about her month-long affair in interviews last year

Assistant: One of the women who engaged in sexual activity with Lauer, Addie Collins Zinone (above with Lauer in 2000), spoke about her month-long affair in interviews last year

Workplace relationship: Zinone said their sexual relationship lasted for about a month, then she went to West Virginia to start her new job.

Workplace relationship: Zinone said their sexual relationship lasted for about a month, then she went to West Virginia to start her new job.

 In 2001, a married NBC staffer claimed she woke up in Matt Lauer’s office with her pants halfway down her legs after having sex with the anchor until she passed out in an interview with The New York Times.

The woman told The New York Times that the longtime Today Show host’s assistant had to take her to see a nurse after the alleged encounter in 2001.

The former employee, who was in her 40s at the time, said Lauer first made advances towards her while covering a story away from their New York headquarters in the late 1990s.

She described moving away from him during a car journey to the airport because he was sitting ‘uncomfortably close’, to which he apparently replied: ‘You’re no fun’.

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Then, in 2001, she claims the married Lauer summoned her to his office at 30 Rock in New York to discuss work. She says he then used a button under his desk to lock the door and then told her to unbutton her blouse.

She said the veteran broadcaster then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled out a chair, bent her over, and started having sex with her until she fell unconscious.

The woman told The Times she woke up a while later on the floor of his office with her pants halfway down her legs, prompting his assistant to take her to seek medical attention.

The ex-staffer, who has not been named, is one of a string of women who have come forward accusing Lauer of sexual misconduct.

She did not tell NBC about the alleged incident at the time because she thought she could have done more to stop Lauer’s actions, and she left around a year later. 

Lauer has been married for almost 20 years to wife Annette, a former model who was born in the Netherlands.

The two wed in 1998, just one year after he was made a co-anchor of the show.

Lauer and his wife have three children – Jack, and Romy and Thijs -who live in East Hampton with their mother while their their father stays in the city alone from Monday through Thursday in an Upper East Side bachelor pad.

His first marriage, to television producer Nancy Alspaugh, ended in divorce in 1988.

Lauer was also briefly engaged to television newscaster Kristen Gesswein, but they split in 1996, two years before he married Annette.

Lauer and his wife came close to splitting back in 2006 after Annette filed court papers stating that he husband valued his work over his family and was ‘extremely controlling.’

Furthermore, Annette claimed at the time she suffered ‘cruel and inhuman’ treatment at the hands of Lauer, who also demonstrated ‘extreme anger and hostility towards her.’

Matt filed his own legal action days later, saying any ‘cruel and inhuman treatment’ he may have exhibited was ‘provoked’ by his wife.

The pair will reportedly divorce, though there had been no news of a court filing at this time. 

They do: Lauer has been married for almost 20 years to wife Annette, a former model who was born in the Netherlands (pair above in 2015) 

They do: Lauer has been married for almost 20 years to wife Annette, a former model who was born in the Netherlands (pair above in 2015) 

This report’s release comes just a few weeks after Lauer broke his silence for the first time since his firing from Today last November.

‘I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months,’ Lauer told The Washington Post.

‘I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up.’

He continued: ‘I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.’ 

That Post story detailed new allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Lauer that were made by three women who were NBC employees at the time of the incidents.

One woman said Lauer exposed himself to her in his office and asked her to touch his genitals; a second women claims she had sex with Lauer in his office during the workday; and a third said she was gifted a sex toy by Lauer.

It is unclear which of those women, if any, were included in the NBC report. 

Curry also revealed in that report that she reported Lauer personally to two members of NBC management after she was approached by a woman in tears who said she had been ‘sexually harassed physically’.

A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her,’ said Curry.

‘She was afraid of losing her job… I believed her.’

Curry said she then approached two members of NBC’s management team and urged them to keep an eye on Lauer and ‘how he deals with women.’

She would not however name the two individuals she spoke to about the allegations, and an NBC spokesperson said on Thursday that there is no record of Curry ever speaking to anyone in management.

Those individuals are no longer in management positions at NBC. 

The chairman of NBC, Andy Lack, was the one who had the task of firing Lauer back in November, and the next morning he was reportedly forced to defend his decision.

Lack and NBC later launched an internal investigation in order to determine ‘why this was able to happen, why it wasn’t reported sooner, and what we can do to make employees feel more empowered to report unacceptable behavior.’

And while he has called Lauer’s behavior ‘reprehensible,’ others have come to the former anchor’s defense.

Three former NBC employees defended Lauer by saying his sexual relationships with NBC employees were always consensual.

One of those individuals also claimed that Lauer dismissed concern over his behavior by saying it was just the result of a troubled marriage. 

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NBC MEMO ON MATT LAUER’S SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the NBCUniversal team has completed its investigation stemming from the Matt Lauer matter. By now you should have received a summary of the findings and recommendations from Kim Harris, General Counsel of NBCU.

The last few months have been extraordinarily difficult, with our dedicated journalists doing some of our best work ever while we endured a painful period in the spotlight including a thorough and deserved examination. This has been felt by everyone in the organization, most importantly several of our colleagues who were deeply affected. I admire their bravery and am profoundly grateful for their candor.

When we first told you about the decision to dismiss Matt Lauer, I said we had been presented with “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” As you will see in the report, that turned out to be the case.

Matt Lauer in Sag Harbor after his firing

Matt Lauer in Sag Harbor after his firing

You will also see the detailed findings and conclusions resulting from nearly 70 interviews with current and former employees and over 30 focus groups with 262 current employees. The review, of course, focused specifically on sexual harassment, but it also broadened the lens – through the culture assessment – to examine other inappropriate workplace behavior like bullying.

The goal of the NBCU investigation was to understand what happened, and as importantly, determine what steps we can take to build a culture of genuinely greater transparency, openness and respect for each other – where everyone feels safe and comfortable at all times.

Like many of you, I am immensely proud of NBC News, its history, and the work we do. But – stepping back from the investigation – that history also includes a time when people were not comfortable coming forward to voice complaints about repugnant behavior. That is not acceptable.

We cannot change the past. What we can do is learn from it, and try to make it right. We have already begun to turn the page to establish a safer and more respectful environment. That requires strong, specific steps in a sustained manner to transform the culture. Here is the plan.

1. New outside option to raise concerns: In addition to the existing four routes to raise concerns (here), which remain valuable resources for you, we are adding more. You will be able to go directly to Seyfarth Shaw, the law firm connected to our in-person trainers, to lodge a complaint about workplace behavior in the news division. They will operate outside the traditional News Human Resources structure, bringing your concerns directly to the NBCUniversal legal team, and will work with you to navigate the investigation process.

2. New inside path to raise concerns: There will be a unique independent team of employee counselors staffed with expertise in managing employee concerns. This team will also operate separately from NBC News Human Resources and the managers of our divisions – they will report in to NBCUniversal’s legal team. Their primary mission will be to address complaints while emphasizing confidentiality.

3. More information to complainants after they report: One of the findings of the culture assessment is that some employees quite understandably feel that after they gather the courage to raise a concern they do not get enough information about how it is being addressed. We are going to inject more immediacy and measurable transparency into the process of raising and resolving concerns. NBCU will shortly be sharing a revised company-wide policy that will, among other things, lay out in clear terms what happens when you raise concerns and what you can expect from the process.

4. Deeper focus on training managers: We are going to undergo a “training surge” for manager-level employees to better equip each and every one of them to build trust and positive team dynamics, model appropriate behavior for others, and create respectful environments.

5. Respectful behavior now a regular part of performance evaluations: Colleagues should treat each other well because it is ingrained in the culture and the right thing to do. From here forward our annual performance reviews will include greater emphasis on each manager’s workplace behavior as well as the environment they create.

6. Ongoing in-person training at all levels: We are close to completing the mandatory in-person employee training on workplace behavior of our entire workforce. This will not be a one-time endeavor. Instead, we will continue using in-person training for all new employees and will update and refresh training for ongoing employees at regular intervals.

7. Constant vigilance, monitoring and measuring progress around culture changes: Our commitment to change and progress must be sustained and lasting. To that end, we will conduct confidential focus group-style assessments of our culture to track progress and continue understanding how we can improve it. Over the next 18 months we will also conduct multiple anonymous ‘pulse’ surveys to assess progress.

You must have a workplace culture that is as great as the work you are doing every day. But this isn’t a one-way process. It takes all 2,145 of us together, having each other’s backs to make this goal a reality that starts now.

As Ever, 

Andy