Lauer was ousted from NBC's morning show Today in 2017 over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
He has been keeping a low profile since losing his anchor position, spending time at his home in the Hamptons.
His divorce from Annette Roque has reportedly been finalized.
New allegations about Lauer's behavior toward one former NBC coworker have surfaced.
Nearly two years after former Today show host Matt Lauer was ousted for what NBC News chairman Andy Lack called "inappropriate sexual behavior," the former anchor is back in the spotlight: this time as new information about the allegations that led to his firing from NBC have come to light.
New allegations against Lauer surfaced in October 2019.
A new report by Variety purports to shed new light on the sexual misconduct allegations that led to Lauer's removal from NBC's Today show in November 2017. The information stems from a copy of a soon-to-be published book by journalist Ronan Farrow profiling his investigation into the Harvey Weinstein case, titled Catch and Kill, which was obtained by Variety. Lauer does not appear to be the primary focus of the book, but Farrow's initial investigation into Weinstein led Lauer's former NBC coworker Brooke Nevils to come forward with her allegations of sexual misconduct. However, the full breadth of Nevils's allegations had never been made public, and in Farrow's book she reportedly alleges that she was anally raped by Lauer in his hotel room while attending the Sochi Olympics in 2014 on assignment for NBC.
A statement released by NBC News simply stated that “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
What Lauer is Doing Now
Since his firing from the Today show in November 2017, Lauer has reportedly spent his days holed up in his Hamptons house, where he's been staying quiet and "focused on family." That may soon change, as he is reportedly selling the $44 million home, apparently as part of his divorce settlement with Roque.
According to reports from Page Six, Lauer and his wife of almost two decades, Annette Roque, filed for an uncontested divorce in July of 2019, which was finalized by a Suffolk County Supreme Court judge in September. The couple had been separated for almost two years, since Lauer was removed from Today following allegatoins of sexual misconduct. The publication says that Lauer will pay Annette Roque up to $20 million in a divorce and that she will retain the ownership of a horse farm that they jointly owned in the Hamptons.
A source reportedly told the publication that the former couple, who have three children together, are now on good terms.
This was a marked difference from rumors earlier in 2019 that Lauer was "furious" about the terms of the separation.
"Matt is furious he is essentially handing over half of his net worth to Annette," a source told Us Weekly when the news initially broke. "He could fight for a better deal in court but that would only result in dragging this out longer and negative headlines. He is ready to move on with his life and truly believes that a television comeback is possible."
Will He Be Returning to TV?
In May 2019, CNN chief Jeff Zucker has assured CNN staffers that Lauer will not be appearing on the cable news network. The announcement, which came via an internal broadcast to CNN employees according to Page Six, appears to have been a direct result of Lauer making a rare public appearance at Zucker's birthday celebration in April.
Lauer, who has largely avoided the spotlight since his removal from Today two years ago, attended the TV exec's 54th birthday celebration along with numerous other friends and colleagues at the “Speakeasy Magick” show at the McKittrick Hotel in New York.
Zucker previously served as an executive at NBC, including a stint as executive producer on the Today show while Lauer was at the helm, and the two are said to have remained friends even after parting ways professionally. Combined with his appearance at Zucker's party, this prompted some to speculate that Lauer might be planning a much-rumored return to the airwaves on CNN.
"In many ways the Matt rumors seemed to make sense, ratings on CNN’s morning show and across prime time have been flagging, and perhaps Matt could be brought back to revive the numbers, and his own career at the same time," one CNN insider reportedly told Page Six, adding that some senior female staffers at the network already had plans to refuse to work with Lauer. "There was palpable relief in the office after Jeff confirmed Matt isn’t happening," the source said.
Lauer Broke His Silence Last Year
In April of 2018 the disgraced anchor made a statement to the Washington Post in which he said, "I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months... I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up."
"I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false."
He followed that up in May in response to a report released by NBCUniversal following its internal investigation into the misconduct allegations that cost him his job. In a statement to Variety, Lauer said he was fired after "admitting to past relationships with co-workers," but expressed his disagreement with "certain aspects" of the report.
"There are aspects of the NBC report with which I clearly disagree. However, I spent 25 wonderful years at the network, 20 of those at Today, and I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished as a team. On November 29, 2017, I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers. A day later I took responsibility for those relationships, apologized to the people I hurt and promised to begin the process of repairing the damage I had caused my family," Lauer said. "I have worked every day since then to honor that promise."
How Lauer's Departure Impacted Today
While the allegations against Lauer that ultimately led to his firing were a surprise to many, a ratings review showed that the damage to Today has been significantly less dramatic than many experts had feared.
Indeed, according to numbers obtained from the Nielsen company by USA Today, the NBC morning show averaged 4 million viewers each morning in late 2018, just 3 percent lower than its ratings before Lauer’s exit. By comparison, CBS This Morning, which lost anchor Charlie Rose around the same time as Lauer under another sexual misconduct scandal, is reportedly down 10 percent over the same time period.
“There was concern when Matt Lauer left that they would be hurt more than turned out to be the case,” Garth Tiedje, an analyst and senior vice president at Horizon Media told USA Today.
The show's ability to maintain its audience is attributed in part to its long track record—Today first launched in 1952—as well as the success of replacement host Hoda Kotb. Kotb’s popularity among women is strong, essential considering that female viewers make up the bulk of Today's audience. In fact, according to Marketing Evaluations, Inc., her popularity score more than doubles Lauer’s last score among older women.
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke briefly touched on the situation with Lauer in an interview with Variety in early 2019. "Matt Lauer was a grenade that we didn’t know was a grenade," he said. "I was here seven years and I thought Matt Lauer was the greatest interviewer in news.”
On June 20, 2019, the NBC morning show shared a celebratory video on air showing special moments from throughout the show's history to mark 25 years on the air. While the five minute video shared a number of iconic moments from the show's run, fans were quick to point out that Lauer, who served on the show for 20 of its 25 year run, was notably missing from the clips.
Opinions were divided on whether or not Lauer deserved to be in the anniversary video. While some felt that Lauer's behavior should disqualify him from being publicly acknowledged—"Thank you for not including Matt Lauer you did the right thing," one Twitter user wrote—others felt that despite the allegations his long service on the show should not have been glossed over. Another Twitter fan argued, "Amazing that a member of “the family” was totally excluded from the 25th Anniversary of Studio 1-A. I know there were serious issues with Matt Lauer and his conduct is not to ever be condoned, but all “families” are flawed in some way. Aren’t they? History shouldn’t be erased."
Thank you for not including Matt Lauer you did the right thing— Anneisafan (@anne_is_a_fan) June 20, 2019
Amazing that a member of “the family” was totally excluded from the 25th Anniversary of Studio 1-A. I know there were serious issues with Matt Lauer and his conduct is not to ever be condoned, but all “families” are flawed in some way. Aren’t they? History shouldn’t be erased— Richard Iniguez (@riniguez23) June 20, 2019
Lauer wasn't the only former face of the show to be omitted from the anniversary, though. Viewers also noted that Ann Curry, who served as Lauer's co-anchor from 2011 to 2012, also did not appear in any of the clips chosen for the anniversary. Curry was unexpectedly forced out of her role on Today in 2012, a removal in which Lauer himself reportedly had a hand, leaving a particularly bitter taste in the mouths of fans who felt Curry, at least, deserved to be recognized.
How Lauer's Departure Impacted His Former Colleagues
On December 11, Kathie Lee Gifford announced on the fourth hour of Today, which she hosts with Hoda Kotb, that she will be leaving the show in the spring of 2019. The move comes a full year after Gifford had expected to make her final bows on the show.
According to statements she made to People in 2018, she had informed the network in January of 2017 that she would be leaving to pursue film projects. Those plans fell by the wayside amid the turmoil that followed the misconduct allegations against Lauer and his subsequent removal.
“Some things were painful for us. And we had to adjust, and then they said, ‘If we accommodate your schedule, will you consider staying?’" she told People at the time. "I wasn’t looking to get out, but I needed the time. So when they accommodated the schedule, then there was no reason to leave."
Jenna Bush Hager officially replaced Kathie Lee as co-host of the 10 o'clock hour in April of 2019.
Lauer's Other Battles
In July, Lauer gave one of his first public interviews with Radio New Zealand about the ongoing battle over public access to the 16,000-acre, $9.2-million ranch there for which he purchased a lease last year. Known as Hunter Valley Station, the ranch is the only thoroughfare to Hawea Conservation Park.
The New Zealand government’s Walking Access Commission wants to offer hikers and hunters more access to Lauer's property to get to the park, but the New York Times reports that the disgraced TV star wants "hundreds of thousands" of dollars, "if not more," if he is forced to allow greater access to a 25-mile gravel road that passes through the property.
Lauer told Radio New Zealand that the groups seeking an easement on his property are "taking advantage of some difficult times I've been through over the past six months" and added, "I think they see me as an easy mark."
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