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Charlie Rose, his rival on CBS’s “This Morning,” was fired last week after eight women told The Washington Post that he had acted inappropriately toward them over a number of years.
The news of Lauer’s firing prompted an early-morning tweet from President Trump: “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,’ ” he tweeted.
The women said that they told NBC executives about Lauer, but that their complaints were ignored to protect a star of the network’s most profitable news franchise.
NBC received two more complaints about Lauer after his dismissal on Wednesday, according to the New York Times, including one from a former employee who said Lauer invited her to his office in 2001 and had sex with her. He became co-host of the morning program with Katie Couric in 1997 after Bryant Gumbel stepped down.
Lauer’s 2005 interview with Tom Cruise remains legendary for the way his questions about Scientology seemed to rattle the actor, an adherent.
Cruise, who had previously criticized the actress Brooke Shields for taking medication to control depression, lashed out at Lauer, calling him “glib” and insisting that psychiatry is a “pseudoscience.” Lauer was less poised on the day his then-co-host, Ann Curry — after widespread reports of strife between her and Lauer — announced on-air in a tearful speech that she would not be returning, and made clear to viewers that the decision was not her own.
As co-host he has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, politicians and other newsmakers.
His interviews of presidential candidates Trump and Hillary Clinton in September of 2016 drew widespread criticism, particularly his repeated questioning of Clinton about issues surrounding her private email server and his failure to challenge Trump on his unsupported claims of opposition to the war in Iraq in 2003.
He then reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.
In addition to Lauer and Rose, prominent TV news figures who have been fired for alleged harassment include Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes of Fox News and political commentator Mark Halperin, who served as an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
Lauer has been as much the face of “Today” as anyone in its 66 years on the air.
Lauer’s signature segment, running from 1998 until 2009, was an annual trek to various exotic locales, billed as “Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?
” He also popped up on other NBC programs, such as co-hosting the network’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year and the opening ceremonies of several Olympic Games.