Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, published on Tuesday, features another claim of sexual misconduct against Matt Lauer – one that he is also denying.
The woman, Melissa Lonner, was a producer for the Today show in 2010, when, she claims according to Farrow’s book, Lauer invited her to his office in 30 Rock following a work event and “unzipped his pants and exposed his erect penis.”
Today covered the allegation on Tuesday’s show.
According to Farrow, Lonner told multiple colleagues about the incident. She said that she tried to get away by cracking a joke but Lauer continued to proposition her and said that it would be “a first for you.” Then he became angry and said, “Melissa, you’re a f*cking tease. This is not good. You led me on.”
The next day, Lonner spoke to Ann Curry, then part of the Today team, and broke down and told her what happened.
“It was as close as you could get to a woman just melting in front of you in pain,” Curry told Farrow.
Curry said that Lonner did not want her to use her name, fearful that Lauer would destroy her career. According to Farrow, Curry did tell two senior executives at the company that they needed to do something about Lauer and that “he had a problem with women.”
Farrow reported that Lonner received a six-figure payout when she was fired as her contract was about to end, but that she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
In a statement issued on Friday, Lauer’s attorney Libby Locke said, “In 25 years at NBC, Matt Lauer did not have a single complaint brought to his attention until November 28, 2017. NBC has already stated this for the record after an internal investigation.
“Ronan Farrow continues his attempt to monetize the MeToo movement, using salacious allegations as promotional trinkets to sell his book. Matt never exposed himself to anyone. This ridiculous story has been shopped around for years. Many allegations that are being circulated were never raised during any fact-checking process. And despite repeated requests for an advance copy of this book, we have not been provided one, while many media outlets have. Matt will have more to say at an appropriate time, but he will not take part in the marketing circus for this book.”
Lauer has also denied another claim in Farrow’s book. Former NBC News producer Brooke Nevils alleges that Lauer raped her while they were in Sochi, Russia in 2014 for Olympics coverage.
On Monday, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim wrote in a memo to staffers that when Lonner, who he did not identify by name, exited the company three years later, she was “paid 22 weeks of severance based on her years of service, and was asked to sign a separation agreement that was standard for departing employees at the time. The standard separation agreement included a routine confidentiality clause that was designed to protect proprietary company information. It was not drafted to prevent an employee from reporting misconduct, and it has never been used that way.”
He wrote that she made a complaint to management after Lauer was fired in 2017. He also wrote that “by her own account, Curry relayed no specific complaint, nor did she say Lauer’s ‘problem’ regarded any specific workplace conduct. NBCU was able to speak with one of those former executives during the 2018 review and she denied having been told even this.” Oppenheim became president of NBC News in 2017. Andrew Lack rejoined in 2015 to lead the networks as chairman of NBC News.
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