30 Nov 2017

Matt Lauer sacked over sex allegation

8:55 am on 30 November 2017

Matt Lauer, one of the most famous TV news anchors in the US, has been fired by NBC over an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Matt Lauer

Matt Lauer Photo: AFP

In a statement, NBC said it had received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace against Matt Lauer.

"As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment."

NBC said it had "reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident".

Early this year, the TV anchor bought the lease for Hunter Valley Station in Central Otago. The 6500ha farm borders Lake Wanaka and Lake Hāwea, and is the largest lakefront property in the country.

Lauer co-hosted The Today Show.

NBC News chairman Andy Lack said it was the first complaint about their star presenter's behaviour in his time there more than 20 years.

But Mr Lack added it represented a "clear violation of our company's standards".

Last year, Matt Lauer signed a new contract with the network worth a reported $US20m per year.

As well as fronting the morning show, he was chosen to moderate an election debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016. He has conducted high-profile interviews, such as the one in which Charlie Sheen confirmed he is living with HIV in 2015.

In an emotional video, Today co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb said they were "heartbroken".

"As I'm sure you can imagine we are devastated and are still processing all of this," Guthrie said.

"I'm heartbroken for Matt - he is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he has been loved by many people here.

"And 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."

She added: "This reckoning that so many organisations have been going through is important, it's long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women - all people - feel safe and respected."

The New York Times quoted lawyer Ari Wilkenfeld as saying he was representing the woman who had made the complaint and that they met NBC legal and HR staff on Monday, for an interview that lasted several hours.

Matt Lauer's agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

US President Donald Trump responded on Twitter by renewing his attacks on US media. "Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for "inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace"," he wrote, but asked when top executives at NBC & Comcast would be "fired for putting out so much Fake News".

NBC executive Matt Zimmerman, who was reported to have worked closely with Matt Lauer, was fired two weeks ago after allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Last October, Billy Bush left The Today Show after a tape emerged of him making lewd comments with Donald Trump in 2005.

Last week, CBS sacked Charlie Rose, one of its leading anchors, amid allegations of sexual misconduct. In April, Fox News [ https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/329120/fox-dumps-bill-o'reilly-after-'extensive-review' sacked its best-known presenter, Bill O'Reilly.