Katie Couric speaks out about Matt Lauer’s “Today” show exit: “This was not the Matt we knew”

Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, co-hosts of the NBC televison "Today" program, open her farewell broadcast in New York, Wednesday May 31, 2006. Lauer placed a box of tissues on the table in front of them at the show's outset, the last show of her 15-year tenure. She's leaving to anchor the CBS "Evening News."(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Katie Couric is finally opening up about Matt Lauer’s firing from “Today.”

RELATED: Katie Couric finally breaks her silence on the news of Matt Lauer’s dismissal from “TODAY”

The former “Today” stalwart, who co-hosted the morning show with Lauer for 15 years, was taken aback when the news broke in late-November that the anchor had been fired for years of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment.

“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Couric, 61, told People magazine in her first expanded comments on the matter. “The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the ‘Today’ show experienced this kind of treatment.

“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” she said. “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”

Lauer, who reportedly earned upwards of $20 million per year for his work on “Today,” was terminated after a female whistleblower told NBC executives of alleged sexual misconduct on his part.

Couric, who appeared on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” in 2012 with Lauer, said she joked on the show that Lauer “pinches me on the a** a lot.”

After his firing in late-November, Lauer released this statement, which “Today” co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb read on air:

There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said, in part. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.

RELATED: Katie Couric told everyone years ago that Matt Lauer liked to pinch her a**

Couric had only previously commented on the situation to an Instagram follower, where she said “it’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to. Thanks for your interest.”

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