Coming to terms. Katie Couric is reflecting on the downfall of her former Today coanchor, Matt Lauer, nearly two years after he was ousted by NBC over several sexual misconduct allegations.
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Couric, 62, addressed the matter during the Dress for Success annual Women Who Inspire breakfast in New York City on Wednesday, November 6. “As you can imagine, I’ve thought a lot about this over the last two years because it has been, to use the phrase that many have used, a reckoning,” she began, according to Variety.
“It’s been painful for me on many levels,” she continued. “Especially when it comes to understanding what was going on with Matt, who I think ultimately turned out to be two very different people, in terms of my relationship with him versus some of the other things that were going on.”
The Virginia native, who, at one point in time, was the only woman to solo anchor the evening news, then remarked that “we need many more women in leadership positions in journalism and broadcast news.” The 60 Minutes alum added, “Things don’t really change unless you have a woman with real authority and decision-making opportunities, and I really do believe that the atmosphere of a company and the standards, they all come from the top.”
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Lauer, 61, was terminated from NBC in November 2017 after a female employee came forward with a complaint regarding an alleged incident of sexual harassment he made toward her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. After his firing was announced, the New York Times and Variety published reports that contained several more accounts of alleged sexual misconduct on Lauer’s part.
At the time, Lauer’s Today colleagues Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced the axing at the beginning of their live broadcast, where the pair grew emotional reporting on the scandal.
The New York native, meanwhile, issued a statement in response to the accusation. He admitted he was “truly sorry,” but he also claimed that “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized.”
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Additional allegations against Lauer appeared in Ronan Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, in October. In Farrow’s tell-all, several women claimed NBC was aware of the allegations facing Lauer — and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein used his knowledge of this to pressure NBC News into a killing a story about his own misconduct.
Months after the initial allegations surfaced in 2017, Couric opened up about how challenging it was for those who knew Lauer personally to deal with the news of his alleged misconduct.
“It’s been a very painful time for a lot of people who worked with Matt, knew him, really care about him and who never witnessed — or experienced — any of this behavior that’s obviously being talked about,” she said on The Wendy Williams Show in May 2018. “I don’t know the full extent of all these things happened. But I can only talk about my personal experience and I was always treated respectfully and appropriately.”