Matt Lauer reportedly had an affair with a well-respected NBC broadcaster during his time at Today. Page Six reports that the broadcaster's affair with Lauer was known by at least one other staffer, who spoke to the publication under a condition of anonymity.
"Matt had influence over everyone’s career—one word and your career would be sunk,” Page Six's source said. “I know there was a clear imbalance of power in this woman’s relationship with Matt.” The broadcaster told the outlet that she was forced to sign a NDA when she left the network.
Much graver allegations against Lauer have come to light with the release of Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow's book-length dive into the former Today host's alleged misdeeds. As Vulture points out, the book details an incident where Lauer exposed himself to a talent booker for the program at a company party.
Melissa Lonner told Farrow that Lauer pulled her away from the party by pretending he had business matters to discuss with her. Once he separated her from the party, Lonner claims that Lauer pulled out his erect penis. Lonner said she took her story to Today show anchor Ann Curry and revealed that she was worried about making an official complaint against Lauer. While a complaint was not filed, Curry took the problem to two senior officials at NBC News.
When Lonner left, she was offered “a six-figure sum in exchange for signing a release of rights,” which would prevent her from filing a later lawsuit against NBC. She added that NBC contacted her attorney in what felt like a threat, stressing the “enforceability of her pact.” NBC maintains that it made the call after Lonner's attorney reached out.
NBC News denied that there was anything untoward about Lonner's separation agreement. President Noah Oppenheimer stressed that her agreement was standard for any employee leaving the company at that time.
"At the time of the employee’s exit, three years later, she still had made no complaint about Lauer, was paid 22 weeks of severance based on her years of service, and was asked to sign a separation agreement that was standard for departing employees at the time,” Oppenheimer wrote in a memo obtained by Page Six. “The standard separation agreement included a routine confidentiality clause that was designed to protect proprietary company information.”
Lauer's attorney released a statement proclaiming his innocence in the matter.
"Matt never exposed himself to anyone,” they wrote, per The Hollywood Reporter. “This ridiculous story has been shopped around for years. Many allegations that are being circulated were never raised during any fact-checking process.”
Lauer was also accused of rape by Brooke Nevils in 2014 while the NBC News co-workers were covering the Sochi Olympics. Nevil's complaint about the incident three years later effectively ended Lauer's tenure at NBC. Farrow's Catch and Kill identifies Nevils as the accuser for the first time and shares the details of her life since her story went public, noting that she suffers from PTSD and has attempted suicide.
“Over the past two years, Nevils had attempted suicide,” Farrow wrote. “She’s been hospitalized for post-traumatic stress disorder, descended into heavy drinking, pulled herself back.”
In the book, Nevils shares further incidents of Lauer sexually assaulting her and says that these moments ruined her life. “I’ve lost everything I cared about,” she said. “My job. My goals.”
Time's Up released an official statement regarding the new allegations against Lauer.
“The latest allegations of sexual assault against Matt Lauer are deeply troubling. TIME’S UP supports Brooke Nevils, Melissa Lonner, and the at least two other women who have come forward publicly and privately with allegations of abuse, harassment, or related retaliation at the hands of Matt Lauer," the organization said in a statement. “But this is not simply the case of one bad actor. Egregious behavior like Lauer’s is often only possible in a toxic work environment, where protecting working people takes a backseat to protecting the careers of powerful men and the reputation of an even more powerful company."