The former “TODAY” staffer who came forward about her alleged in-office affair with disgraced NBC anchor Matt Lauer back in the early 2000s has shared a candid recounting of her story with Megyn Kelly — on the same show at which she worked as a production assistant with Lauer.
According to Addie Zinone, whose story was published in Variety on Thursday, her consensual relationship with Lauer began when he was in his 40s and already married to his current wife, Annette Roque. Two years after Zinone’s time at “TODAY” started, Lauer messaged her on the network’s internal messaging system.
“Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic,” he said in messages obtained by the publication. “I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it’s agreeing with you.”
As the days went by, the intensity of Lauer’s messages increased.
“OK…NOW YOU’RE KILLING ME…YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! A BIT TOUGH TO CONCENTRATE.”
At first, Zinone thought someone in the office was messing with her “because it just seemed so flirty.” But Lauer confirmed to her that it was him and set up a lunch date for them the following day.
Zinone confessed that her first alleged sexual encounter occurred after lunch, when the married anchor invited the then-24-year-old production assistant to meet him in his dressing room.
“I realize that sounds very naive and silly of me, because I walked over there to do that,” Zinone said. “But in that moment, I didn’t have anybody to share my fears and confusion with except for him, because what am I going to say to people?”
“I’m not suggesting that he — well, he kind of lured me, but I’m not suggesting that I’m not owning my part in this,” she added. “I went and met him over there.”
According to Zinone, the encounters lasted for around a month, but in spite of how fleeting the affair was, she said that it has haunted her ever since.
“These are very hard things to talk about,” she revealed. “ … My family is shattered by this. They are afraid for me. This all trickles down to a lot of people that are affected, so having these conversations is really important, but also there’s a lot of shame attached to what I did.”
“My goal was to get him to see me as a human being, so it does seem odd that I would continually go see him,” she continued. “But every time it was an opportunity like, ‘Will you see me as a human being? Can we finally have a conversation?’”
Zinone is confident that she was not the only woman to be taken advantage of by Lauer.
“He did it so effortlessly with me that I thought for sure that there had to be other women, but I didn’t know there would be other colleagues, because I thought if he continued that behavior and what he did with me, there would have to be other people coming forward,” she said. “Over 17 years, we would have heard about that, right? I did feel very alone and isolated and unsure of what to do with this, and I just carried it because who wants to be that person?”
“I understand that people are going to paint me as a home-wrecker, as a s**t and a w***e, and those are things I have been called,” she said, but she felt that coming forward could provide guidance to women who found themselves in similar situations.