The fast-moving national reckoning over sexual harassment in the workplace reached the highest level of television news on Wednesday when NBC fired Matt Lauer, the co-host of its most profitable franchise, “Today,” following an allegation that he made inappropriate sexual contact with a subordinate.
NBC News told its staff it was firing Mr. Lauer some 34 hours after the woman and her lawyer visited the network headquarters in Midtown Manhattan to share details of her interactions with Mr. Lauer with company executives. Earlier that day, she had also met with reporters from The New York Times but said she was not ready to discuss it publicly.
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” Andrew Lack, the NBC News chairman, said in a memo to the staff. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
In a division-wide meeting with his staff later in the morning, Mr. Lack said Mr. Lauer’s involvement with the woman began while they were in Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics in 2014, according to two people briefed on the meeting, and that their involvement continued after they returned to New York.
Mr. Lauer’s ouster follows a head-spinning string of prominent firings over sexual harassment and abuse allegations, including the studio mogul Harvey Weinstein, the comedian Louis C.K., the CBS host Charlie Rose and the political journalist Mark Halperin. Still, the news of Mr. Lauer’s sudden downfall shook his industry and shared national headlines with North Korea’s ballistic missile test.
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