US TV anchor says "there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed"
Matt Lauer, the long-time host of the Today show, has issued a statement after being fired by NBC News over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Lauer had served as a co-anchor on the US morning news show since 1997 and was one of the country’s highest-paid TV presenters.
NBC announced Lauer’s departure in a memo sent to staff by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack on Tuesday evening (November 28). Lack said that a complaint had been made by a female colleague of Lauer’s on Monday (November 27) and that the allegations represented a “clear violation of our company’s standards”.
Lack continued to say that, after “serious review”, the company was “presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident”, despite it being “the first complaint about [Lauer’s] behaviour in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News”.
In a statement, Lauer now says: “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 realise 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 mischaracterised, 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.”
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie had announced the news of Lauer’s departure at the start of Wednesday’s (November 29) episode, saying: “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.”
“For the moment all we can say is that we are heartbroken,” Guthrie added. “I’m heartbroken for Matt, he is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he has been loved by many, many people here. I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”
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Following news about Lauer’s dismissal, President Trump took to Twitter to tweet that “top executives at NBC & Comcast” should be “fired for putting out so much fake news”.