A day after NBC News announced they had fired him for "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace," prompting a flood of reports about his alleged sexual misconduct, Matt Lauer responded to the accusations. While the former "Today" show host said he was "truly sorry" to those he has "hurt," he also said that some of the allegations are "untrue or mischaracterized."
"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions," Lauer said in a statement reported by NBC Thursday. "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."
He continued: "Some of what has been said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these statements 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," he concluded.
His former show presented the statement Thursday morning:
Lauer had served as co-host of the "Today" show for 20 years. In a stunning sequence of events on Wednesday, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack informed employees in a memo that Lauer had been fired for "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace" after a colleague filed a "detailed complaint" Monday night about his actions. Lack added that it "may not have been an isolated incident." Here is the full text of the memo, that, like Lauer's response, was read aloud on the "Today" show when the news first broke:
Dear colleagues, on Monday night we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result we've decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been here at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident. Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender. We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.
Since the announcement, a series of accusations against Lauer have surfaced, including reports of multiple affairs with staff members, serial sexual misconduct in the workplace including sexual harassment and potential sexual assault, and an allegation by an unnamed NBC staffer reported by Page Six that Lauer had sexually assaulted her during the Rio Olympics.