Wednesday morning began with a bombshell announcement from NBC as they revealed that their former star Matt Lauer is now clutching a pink slip following sexual assault allegations against him. A few months ago, Lauer scored a coveted interview with Bill O’Reilly just after the Fox star’s fall from fame.
In the interview, Lauer took a tough line of questioning with O’Reilly, repeatedly asking about the sexual harassment accusations against him. At one point, he asked O’Reilly point blank, “Did you ever send a lewd text or email to another employee at Fox News?” Moments later, he followed up by asking O’Reilly about Fox making financial settlements with women accusing the host of sexual harassment.
The “TODAY” host was praised for not giving O’Reilly any easy questions, but that interview looks a hell of a lot different now that Lauer is staring down sexual assault accusations.
The interview continued in a tense vein; when Lauer asked O’Reilly if he had done any “soul searching,” the former Fox icon replied, “My conscience is clear.” O’Reilly insisted that the decision to let him go from the network was purely a business move and blamed left-wing groups like Media Matters for his downfall. He went on to declare, “This was a hit job, a political and financial hit job.”
NBC Chairman Andrew Lack announced Lauer’s dismissal in a memo, writing, “We were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” Rumors have since circulated that Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a woman while he was covering the Olympics.
“TODAY” host Savannah Guthrie was visibly upset as she addressed the news on Wednesday morning’s show, saying:
We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”
Guthrie’s co-host, Hoda Kotb also addressed Lauer’s firing, saying, “It’s hard to reconcile with what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day,” and adding that it was a “tough morning.”
President Trump also woke up to the news and wasted no time jumping online and blasting off some tweets about the development. He even attacked NBC Chairman Andrew Lack, declaring, “Check out Andy Lack’s past.”
The president then moved on to another favorite target and NBC star, Joe Scarborough, calling for an investigation into the “unsolved mystery” in Florida. The “unsolved mystery” that Trump referenced dates back to 2001, when Scarborough was still a congressman, and one of his interns was found dead in his district office. There’s no evidence that Scarborough was behind her death, but the theory that he ordered a “hit” pops up every few years — in 2015, Gawker did a long expose on the incident.
Lauer hosted “TODAY” for 20 years, beginning in 1997. Prior to joining NBC, he worked for a number of different stations as an on-air talent. He was married and has children, but he and his wife divorced in 2006, Page Six reports.