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NBC News fires Matt Lauer for ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 November, 2017, 7:38pm

NBC News has fired long-time Today show host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behaviour”, making him the second morning television show personality to lose his job because of sexual misconduct claims in a week.

Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the start of Wednesday’s Today show.

Last week, CBS News fired Charlie Rose after complaints from several women who worked for him.

NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the network had received a complaint from a colleague on Monday night, and a review determined it was a clear violation of company standards. While it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer, Lack said in a memo to staff that “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident”.

Lauer, 59, has hosted Today for two decades. When paired with Katie Couric, Today was the long-time ratings leader and highly lucrative for NBC. It now runs second in the ratings to ABC’s Good Morning America.

Many Today show viewers took out their anger for the unsightly firing of co-host Ann Curry on Lauer, sending the show plunging in the ratings. But NBC stuck with Lauer and the show had steadied with his pairing with Guthrie. The programme lasts four hours, with Lauer and Guthrie hosting the first two.

He joins a lengthening list of media figures felled by sexual misconduct charges this year. Besides Rose, they include Lauer’s former NBC News colleague Mark Halperin, former Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and National Public Radio newsroom chief Michael Oreskes. The New York Times suspended White House correspondent Glenn Thrush last week.

Lack, in his memo, said “we are deeply saddened by this turn of events” but “will face it together as a news organisation – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can”.

“This is a sad day for us at the Today show and NBC News,” Guthrie said when she repeated the news on the air.

On Twitter on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News.”