Matt Lauer’s firing as host of NBC’s “Today” makes him the biggest media figure brought down by sexual misconduct allegations since Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes lost their lofty positions at Fox News Channel.
On Thursday morning, Lauer issued a statement to the Today show that read:
There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.
In the wave of accusations sweeping through the media, Hollywood and politics, the stature and wealth that once served as protection have turned into flimsy shields.
Lauer has long been a valuable and highly visible part of NBC News and one of the highest-paid figures in the industry, and his downfall shook the network and rippled out across the roughly 4 million “Today” viewers who started their day with him.
His firing Wednesday for what NBC called “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague was quickly followed by a published report accusing him of crude and habitual misconduct with other women around the office.
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