NEW YORK — Matt Lauer was fired from NBC News on Wednesday after an employee filed a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network announced.
Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of the “Today” show. Lauer has been the cornerstone of the program, one of the most profitable franchises on television, for two decades.
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in a memo to staff that it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his career at the network. But he said “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Lauer was not immediately reachable for comment. An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment about the details of the allegation against him.
Reporters for The New York Times had been investigating Lauer for several weeks, according to sources who had been contacted by the Times.
The firing removes one of the most recognizable personalities on television, and at a time when morning news programs are increasingly important to network news divisions.
Just last week, CBS News fired one of its own morning anchors, Charlie Rose, after a report in The Washington Post chronicled years of sexual misconduct.
Guthrie said she was informed just moments before going on the air.
“This is a sad morning at ‘Today’ and NBC News,” she said. “As I’m sure you can understand, we are devastated. I’m heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear colleague.”
Guthrie also said she was heartbroken for the woman who accused Lauer of misconduct, noting “it’s long overdue” that women feel comfortable coming forward against abusive men.
Hoda Kotb, on the set with Guthrie, said she has known Lauer for years and “loved him as a friend and a colleague.”
“It’s hard to reconcile the man who walks in every day” with the person who was identified in the complaint, she said.
Lauer, 59, was named a co-anchor of “Today” in January 1997 after three years as the newsreader.
President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the news was announced, “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”