2019-10-09 13:59:17 UTC
When Matt Lauer was fired at the end of 2017 by NBC News, all we knew at the
time was that the news organization had received a detailed complaint from a
colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, one that they
determined was in clear violation of their standards and part of a pattern of
misbehavior by Lauer.
Sources then revealed that Lauer had been accused of sexually harassing an
anonymous coworker while in Sochi during 2014 Olympics. But now, weve learned
that his firing came after former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils alleged that
Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while in Sochi. The account comes from
Ronan Farrows upcoming book Catch and Kill, in which Nevilss identity and
allegations are revealed for the first time.
Farrows book, according to Variety, reports that Nevils was working with NBCs
Meredith Vieira to cover the Olympics. As she told Farrow, they were having
drinks one night at the hotel bar when Lauer joined them.
Here is how Farrow describes Lauers alleged rape, per Variety:
At the end of the night, Nevils, whod had six shots of vodka, ended up going to
Lauers hotel room twice once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer
had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils,
Farrow writes, had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly
based on prior experience.
Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, Lauer who was wearing a
T-shirt and boxers pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed
her onto the bed, flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex, Farrow
writes. She said that she declined several times.
According to Nevils, she was in the midst of telling him she wasnt interested
again when he just did it, Farrow writes. Lauer, she said, didnt use
lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. It hurt so bad. I remember
thinking, Is this normal? She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently
into a pillow. Lauer then asked her if she liked it. She tells him yes. She
claims that she bled for days, Farrow writes.
As Nevils told Farrow, It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk
to consent. It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didnt
want to have anal sex.
After returning home to New York City, Nevils continued to have what Farrow
describes as sexual encounters with Lauer, encounters that Nevils called
transactional. According to Variety, Nevils was (understandably) terrified
about the control Lauer had over her career. She reportedly told her superiors
about their sexual encounters, but it wasnt until the end of 2017, as MeToo was
underway, that Nevils, with the urging of Vieira, went to the companys human
Unsurprisingly, NBC executives reportedly made Nevilss life a living hell.
Again, per Variety:
After Lauers firing, she learned that Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC
News, and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, were emphasizing
that the incident hadnt been criminal or an assault which she claims
caused her to throw up, Farrow writes.
Nevilss work life became torture, according to Farrow. She was made to sit
in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them
colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her.
And though Nevils had been promised anonymity by human resources, Lack saying
internally that the encounter had happened at Sochi limited the possibilities of
complainants and soon, everyone knew it was Nevils. Though Nevils had not
wanted money, she went on medical leave in 2018, and was eventually paid, Farrow
writes, seven figures.
The network proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had
left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was
a positive example of sexual harassment, Farrow writes.
In a statement to Variety, NBC News defended their actions. Matt Lauers
conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time, NBC
News said to Variety. Thats why he was fired within 24 hours of us first
learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.
On Wednesday morning, Today show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb directly
addressed the newly revealed allegations against Lauer. This is shocking and
appalling, and I honestly dont even know what to say about it, Guthrie said.
I want to say I know it wasnt easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward
then, its not easy now, and we support her and any woman who comes forward with
claims. And its just very painful, for all of us at NBC and who are at the
Today show, its very very difficult.
Kotb also painted herself as surprised by the news, though I personally take
that with a massive grain of salt. Its like you feel like youve known someone
for 12 years... and all of a sudden, a door opens up, and its a part of them
you didnt know, Kotb said. And we dont know all of the facts in all of this,
but theyre not allegations of an affair, theyre allegations of a crime. And I
think thats shocking to all of us here who sat with Matt for many, may years.
She added, Our thoughts are with Brooke. Its not easy, what she did, to come
forward, its not easy at all.