A woman has come forward claiming she had a secret relationship with former "Today” show host Matt Lauer back when she was working as a production assistant.
Addie Zinone, 41, said that she and Matt Lauer had a month-long affair when she was 24, according to Variety. She provided her own detailed account of their secret relationship as well as copies of the messages they sent each other.
Lauer was recently fired from NBC for sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. Though Zinone is not claiming any of her encounters with Lauer to have been non-consensual, she told the publication that she saw some similarities between her story and those of the unnamed victims he allegedly harassed.
Zinone was a new production assistant on Today and said that Lauer first hit on her via an instant messaging system the employees used called Top of Line.
“I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this,” Lauer messaged her. “But you look fantastic. I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life…but it’s agreeing with you.”
Zinone said that she thanked him and that was the end of it.
The next month he messaged her again, saying “OK…NOW YOU’RE KILLING ME…YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! A BIT TOUGH TO CONCENTRATE.”
When Lauer asked her to lunch, she jumped at the opportunity to ask him for advice about her career. Instead, the newly married Lauer aggressively flirted with her.
Zinone told variety that she was intimidated by Lauer and caved to his flirtatious manners.
“My intentions were purely professional. I thought this was a way to get real-world constructive advice,” Zinone wrote in her account of the affair. “What that turned into was an opportunity for him to come on to me. It was flattering, confusing, overwhelming. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do with it.”
She went on to say that Lauer insinuated that something was up because he suggested they leave separately.
The affair began that same day, according to Zinone. She said she messaged him and he told her to meet him in his dressing room.
“Meet you where? Matt, think about this first…you have a wife,” Zinone messaged back.
He simply replied with “dressing room.”
She claims they met in his dressing room and her whole life changed.
“There you go. It crossed the line. It was a consensual encounter,” Zinone wrote. “It happened in his dressing room above studio 1A, which was empty in the afternoons. He got in his car and I had to go back to work, and now my life had completely changed.”
Zinone claims they met several times over the course of a month.
“One afternoon, he told me to come see him in his office. I thought he was finally going to talk to me and encourage me professionally,” she said. “I wanted to hear from him that I could succeed in West Virginia. I sat across from him, and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts. It was embarrassing because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff. I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.’”
The last time they hooked up was at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.
“Do you see that bathroom over there?” she said Lauer asked her. “Meet me there in five minutes.”
Zinone said the affair took a serious toll on her health. She became depressed and ended up throwing in the towel on her career as a news anchor.
“What happened with Matt held me hostage. I was under his spell. It was all-consuming. I couldn't focus. I couldn't concentrate,” she said. “Every time I turned on the TV because I anchored the local news in the morning, there was his face. And he was acting all jolly and happy. And here am I, carrying the weight of what had happened and fending off the national press. I didn't want to start my career being known one of Matt Lauer’s girls.”
Zinone said that the encounter with the married Today show host took all of her self-confidence away and made her feel like a “conquest.”
“This man who I’d held on a pedestal had made me feel like my looks and my body were my true assets,” Zinone wrote. “It just shattered everything.”
She claims her “brief but intense relationship” with Lauer was completely consensual but she still feels like a victim and relates to the other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic,” she wrote. “… I see the common threads and how he preyed on women, and I was one of them.”