Katie Couric has finally broken her silence over Matt Lauer’s sexual assault accusations and his firing from the “Today” show.
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Couric told People Magazine. “The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any women at the ‘Today’ show experienced this kind of treatment.”
Couric co-hosted NBC’s “Today” show with Lauer for 15 years, but left in May 2006 to anchor “CBS Evening News.”
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” she continued. “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting.”
The joke Couric referenced was made on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” in 2012 where Couric said that Lauer “pinches me on the a– a lot.” The recording was heavily circulated after Lauer was fired.
She added, “I really admire the way Savannah (Guthrie) and Hoda (Kotb) and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”
Couric has been criticized for not addressing the scandal when it happened last year, but she said that she would speak when she was ready.
“It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to. Thanks for your interest,” she responded to an Instagram user in December.
Lauer was fired by NBC News at the end of November last year after the network received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said in a statement.
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we are also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack said in reference to the termination of Lauer’s employment.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, one woman claimed that Lauer had sexually assaulted her while working on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Lauer addressed the allegations in a statement, People Magazine reported.
““There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said. “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.”
Daily Mail reported that the “Today” staff who have spoken since Lauer’s firing were all shocked over the claims.
Couric also spoke to People Magazine about the Time’s Up movement that is working to fight sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood that has arisen among the allegations against many people in the industry.
“I think it was really moving to see so many women support each other and demand change, not only for themselves, but for mistreated and marginalized women in all kinds of industries,” she said. “Clearly we are witnessing a sea change and a long overdue course correction.”
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