A day after allegations of sexual misconduct led to him being fired as the long-time anchor of TODAY, Matt Lauer broke his silence to express “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions.”
Lauer, one of the best-known personalities to have his career crash in a storm of sexual misconduct claims involving news media figures, was fired Wednesday after NBC News received a detailed complaint from a female colleague who accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior that started during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“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,” Lauer said in a statement that also addressed the allegations made against him.
“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.”
After news of his termination Wednesday, The New York Times reported that two more women made complaints after Lauer was fired. One unidentified former employee said Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office in 2001.
In addition, Variety published a more sweeping account that showed a pattern of alleged misconduct by Lauer with at least three women over several years.
NBC officials have separately confirmed that two more accusers had come forward to the network on Wednesday.
Lauer, who had anchored TODAY since 1997, pledged in his statement to begin work on “repairing the damage” he has caused, but said it “will take a lot of time and soul searching.”
“I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job,” he said. “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 a memo sent to employees Wednesday morning just before TODAY went live, NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the detailed complaint the network received against Lauer represented, “after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards.”
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” he wrote in the memo.