In the wake of complaints about Matt Lauer's sexual misconduct during his tenure at NBC, the former host was fired from Today and an investigation was launched and conducted. Now the network has released the results of said investigation, conducted by NBCUniversal's legal team who interviewed nearly 70 current and past employees of NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While all four women who came forward about Lauer's sexual misconduct confirmed they "did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer," according to the report, two of them have said they think company leadership was aware of his behavior beforehand. Former co-host Ann Curry even said she was "not surprised" by the allegations.
"Two of the four complainants who came forward said that they believe former NBC News or Today Show leadership knew or must have known about Lauer’s alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace," the report said. Investigators were "unable to otherwise substantiate” these claims, meaning the network had no knowledge of said complaints before November of last year.
"We were also unable to establish that any of those interviewed, including NBC News and Today Show leadership, News HR and others in positions of authority in the News Division, knew that Lauer had engaged in sexual activity with other employees," the report explained. "Every such individual credibly responded that they had no such knowledge. Most witnesses interviewed stated that they had heard or read rumors about Lauer’s personal life, including tabloid stories about the troubled state of his marriage and the possibility of extramarital affairs, but those witnesses believed, with limited exceptions, that the rumored extramarital affairs were with women outside of the Company."
Some of the women interviewed said Lauer was indeed flirtatious and used sexually suggestive language with them as well, but once they ignored or declined his advances, Lauer did not retaliate in any way. They also did not report the incidents to any member of leadership.
One particular detail that took on a life of its own when the story first broke was the infamous desk button in Lauer's office that reportedly locked the door from the inside. While the office itself has already been demolished as part of renovations at NBC offices, the report revealed that the button can be found in multiple offices and is used to release a magnet that keeps the door open.
"According to the NBCUniversal facilities team, the button is a commonly available feature in executive offices in multiple NBCUniversal facilities to provide an efficient way to close the door without getting up from the desk," the report said.
A company-wide email memo was sent by NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack after the findings were announced. "The last few months have been extraordinarily difficult," the email said. "With our dedicated journalists doing some of our best work ever while we endured a painful period in the spotlight including a thorough and deserved examination."