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Matt Lauer Fired By NBC For 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior'


NBC's Matt Lauer is the latest big name in media to fall in the wake of sexual harassment complaints. Lauer's co-host on "The Today Show," Savannah Guthrie, began the broadcast this morning like this.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning. Breaking news overnight - Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. Our chairman has released a statement saying a colleague had come forward reporting behavior in violation of our company's standards. We'll have more ahead.

GREENE: Now more details about the allegations have been emerging since the early hours of the morning. And for the latest, NPR's David Folkenflik joins us from New York.

Hey there, David.


GREENE: So what more are we finding out now?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, we're learning - and confirmed from sources within the network - that the allegations were filed Monday evening by someone described to me as being significantly down the ladder - a significant power disparity with Lauer who was, of course, at the very height of the network scale. She said that he had behaved inappropriately toward her - it may have been physical. It's not entirely clear yet - at Skokie at the Winter Olympics coverage in 2014.

GREENE: Oh, at Sochi - in Russia.

FOLKENFLIK: Yes, sir - and that the behavior was continuing after, a misbehavior then. NBC News brass were informed Tuesday morning. They took action. NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack decided to terminate Lauer last night.

GREENE: And we heard there Savannah Guthrie, I mean, announcing the termination of her co-host, someone she's known for a very long time. How are colleagues at NBC reacting?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Megyn Kelly, on "The Today Show," talked about how serious this was, how Lauer had been welcoming to her. She transitioned from Fox, a place where she had accused her former boss, the late Roger Ailes, of sexually harassing her but saying that she also felt for women who had not been able to prosper in their careers in the face of sexual harassment. And you heard the emotion in Savannah Guthrie's voice. So we have a cut here of her as she talked about this just reeling minutes after this was announced to the staff.


GUTHRIE: We just learned this - moments ago - just this morning. As I'm sure you can imagine, we are devastated. And we are still processing all of this. And I will tell you - right now we do not know more than what I just shared with you.

FOLKENFLIK: So you know, Guthrie reflecting both the pain of seeing a colleague not only accused but dismissed and his absence - he's been, you know, her co-pilot on that show since she's been involved - and yet at the same time reeling from the seriousness of these allegations. These are things that people are now taking as fully worth of dismissal, as they are being substantiated.

GREENE: Anything to say about the timing of this announcement? You say it was reported to NBC Monday. And what prompted NBC to make this move today, this morning?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, you know, I think it is fair to say that they moved swiftly in terms of when they say that they received the allegation. I think it's also fair to point out that both Variety and The New York Times were in the process of doing reporting on this very topic to see what they could verify about Matt Lauer. The Times has just reported in recent minutes that it had met with the woman, the accuser, on Monday but that she was not yet ready to come forward - certainly not yet ready to be named.

I think it's also - you know, it's happened in the wake of these major scandals and firings - Charlie Rose at CBS, Bill O'Reilly at Fox as well as Eric Bolling as well as the late Roger Ailes himself. And here at NPR, we've had two senior news executives depart the company after accusations on perhaps a less severe scale but nonetheless accusations that seem to affect the workplace for women here. I think we're at a moment. It's affecting the news industry. Nobody can really think it's limited to that industry. But it's severe, and it's real.

GREENE: NPR's David Folkenflik. David, thanks a lot.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.