Matt Lauer Firing Spurs Sadness And Outrage From NBC Colleagues And TV Competitors
Matt Lauer‘s firing from NBC News, including the Today show, dominated headlines Wednesday and sparked much discussion not only on his former series, but on a slew of other morning programs.
In an emotional appearance, Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and guest co-anchor Hoda Kotb announced at the start of the program that they found out earlier that morning that NBC News had fired Lauer after receiving a complaint from a colleague about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” Guthrie said she is “heartbroken.” He has not responded.
Here is how other morning show hosts reacted to the news:
Good Morning America: News of Lauer’s firing prompted renewed discussion on the show about sexual misconduct as a whole, especially in the workplace. The issue has dominated public discourse for months, especially in wake of allegations against Bill Cosby, producer Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood power players, newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Charlie Rose and late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, as well as politicians, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and even President Donald Trump, who bragged about groping women in an Access Hollywood 2005 open mic recording, which was leaked last year just before the U.S. election.
“We’re all learning now…no one is immune,” George Stephanopoulos said. “It is hitting every part of our culture—media, entertainment, politics, journalism.”
“I was really struck, guys, by Today having Savannah and Hoda having to be there to report the story,” co-anchor Robin Roberts said. “And then it was with Charlie Rose, it was Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell having to report this.”
CBS News and other networks announced last week they had fired Rose. The news came the same day the Washington Post reported he had sexually harassed eight women. Rose apologized for his “inappropriate behavior” but added that he did “not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.” His CBS This Morning co-hosts King and O’Donnell voiced their dismay at the accusations on the show. King said, “What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?”
“You can tell they’re grappling with this because of how it’s somebody they have worked with, but how they all have spoken about the bravery of their colleagues, of those women,” Roberts continued on Good Morning America.
“It’s not easy to come forward,” Stephanopolous added.
“We’re talking Charlie Rose, we’re talking Matt Lauer and I know, you know, people were also saying and talking about them and yes, they were huge in their industry and we see it,” Roberts said. “And people keep going back to the president, President Trump just tweeting about it as well and people are saying, people losing their jobs, and yet in other positions in politics and not just with President Trump but other politicians who are accused of these types of actions, they still have their jobs. And people are trying to kind of reconcile and trying to understand that.”
CBS This Morning: “It’s unfortunate to look at, Norah, because I look at that picture and I have a sickening feeling of déjà vu, certainly because we’re dealing with our own situation here,” King said about Lauer on her own show. “But it does send a message and shows that you are not too big to fall, that there is now clearly a no, zero-tolerance policy and I think that that’s a good thing, as painful as this is, when this happens to someone that we know and that we care about.”
“I take no joy in this,” she added. “None of us do at this table. It’s just a very sad situation all the way around. But I think everyone’s sending a very powerful message and encouraging women to speak up. People are listening and they believe you and that is important.”
The View: “You know, for a minute there, I thought we were finally on a streak where we weren’t gonna hear about any more famous men behaving badly, at least for a day or so,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg said. “But then this happened this morning.”
“What is it about morning television?” co-host Joy Behar said.
Sara Haines, a former Today show contributing correspondent who worked with Lauer, said it was “hard to hear” about his firing.
She reiterated that sexual misconduct behavior is “never OK.” She also said she personally “had such great experiences with Matt” and that “he was someone who cheer-leaded for me and supported me.”
The Wendy Williams Show: “Sorry not sorry,” host Wendy Williams said. “In the name of Demi Lovato. Sorry, not sorry, Matt Lauer…OK. How do you feel sorry? So, he was fired from NBC News overnight…an employee filed a complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior with him earlier week. Well, last week, he was the grand marshal of the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. I hope you enjoyed yourself.”
“I mean, in the name of Ann Curry, who’s probably turned her orange juice into a mimosa this morning…just saying,” she later said, making a joke that was uttered on Twitter earlier that morning.
Guthrie had replaced Curry as Lauer’s co-anchor in 2012. Today‘s ratings had decreased since she assumed the role a year prior. Her departure, marked by her tearful on-air goodbye, stirred controversy.
Williams also mentioned Lauer’s kids, saying, “Now they got to deal with a father who is an lecher. I don’t know how you explain that at the bus stop.”
“So what will he do? I don’t know,” she said. “You know, if I were him, I would not belittle myself by going all the way up to channel 999…doing some news show. I wouldn’t do that. I would just leave and enjoy my money.”
“Who should replace Matt? I don’t know,” she said. “But I gotta tell you something. I don’t need all women all the time on my TV. Do you know what I’m saying? The answer is not to necessarily replace him with another woman. I like to look at men on TV. I do. And I like the dynamics of a man and a woman on TV as partners. So, please, not a woman.”
Other Today show hosts also weighed in on the air on Lauer’s firing.
Megyn Kelly Today: “This one hits close to home,” Megyn Kelly said. “I too have known Matt for a long time and he has been a friend and kind and supportive to me in my transition to NBC News. And I see the anguish on my colleagues’ faces. But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come forward and it is a terrifying thing to do. We don’t see the career opportunities women lose because of sexual harassment or the intense stress it causes a woman dealing with it when she comes to work each day. I am thinking of those women this morning and hoping they are OK.”
“The days to come will not be easy,” she said. “We are in the middle of a sea change in this country, an empowerment revolution in which women who for years have felt they had no choice but to simply deal with being harassed at work are now starting to picture another reality, to feel that change is within their grasp. As painful as this moment is for so many here at NBC, Today, at CBS earlier this month, at Fox News earlier this year, in Hollywood this fall, it is a sign of progress, of women finding their voices, their courage and of the erosion of a shameful power imbalance that has been in place for far too long.”
In July 2016, Ailes left Fox News amid a sexual harassment scandal. Kelly was one of his accusers. He denied the charges. Ailes died at age 77 this past May.
“I have been at another news channel where this happened, as you know,” Kelly said. “In my experience, a news organization is bigger than any one person. They all face challenges, they all stumble, but the good ones stay standing and forge forward their core mission: Journalism.”
Today‘s Kathie Lee Gifford: “It’s a very, very sad day here at NBC,” she said, sitting next to Kotb, her regular co-host. “I’m grappling with, should I even share something, but I guess I really should. I don’t feel that Matt has betrayed us in any way at all, but when I found out that my [late] husband had betrayed me, you question your own judgment. You question it, you say, ‘Was everything a lie? Was everything a lie?’ And I think we have to fight against that, very much fight against that, that the man we know and adored, was the man we loved and adored and continue to. I texted him this morning and said, ‘I adore you.'”
“No person is perfect in this world, nobody is,” she said. “We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, is what scripture says. And what we need now is forgiveness and we need mercy for one another and we don’t need taunts and we don’t need ugliness, we have enough of that in the world. I send out my love right now to the person, whoever it is, who came forward. May God heal that person. I send it to Matt and his children and his wife, may God bless that family and heal. I’m sorry Hoda, but in my long life, the only thing I’ve ever been sure of is that only God can heal it. There’s no bad time to reach out for His help.”