NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb addressed the latest allegations against their former Today colleague Matt Lauer, with Guthrie calling them “shocking and appalling” and Kotb telling viewers, “We don’t know the facts in all of this, but they are not allegations of an affair. They are allegations of a crime.”
Deadline sister publication Variety reported on Tuesday night that in Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill, Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee whose complaint about Lauer led to his termination from the show two years ago, alleges that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room as they were on assignment at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
“I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment,” Guthrie said on Wednesday morning. “This is shocking and appalling, and I honestly don’t even know what to say about it. I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then. It is not easy now, and we support her and any women who come forward with claims. And it is just very painful. For all of us at NBC who are at the Today show, it is very, very difficult.”
Kotb said, “You feel like you know someone for 12 years, you feel like you know them inside and out, and all of the sudden a door opens up and it is a part of them you didn’t know. We don’t know the facts in all of this, but they are not allegations of an affair. They are allegations of a crime. I think that is shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years.
Kotb added, “I think we are just going to continue to process this part of this horrific story. As you said, our thoughts are with Brooke. It is not easy to come forward. It is not easy at all.”
Lauer responded on Wednesday morning with a lengthy statement denying Nevils’ claim. He said that they had a consensual affair and that the rape allegation was “completely false.”
Nevils had been at the Olympics to work with Meredith Vieira, who had returned for the special event, according to accounts of Farrow’s book in Deadline sister publication Variety. The sexual assault took place in Lauer’s hotel room where, according to Nevils, he pushed her against the door and kissed her, then pushed her onto the bed and sexually assaulted her.
Nevils told Farrow in an interview, “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent. It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Farrow reported that Nevils told “colleagues and superiors at NBC,” but nothing happened until the Harvey Weinstein case spurred a MeToo movement. It was in that aftermath that Vieira urged her to get a lawyer and go to NBC Universal human resources. Farrow’s book claims that NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, emphasized that the incident had not been “criminal” or an “assault.” Nevils claimed their comments caused her to throw up.
NBC News insisted to Farrow that it took quick action after the complaint was made, and also pointed to Lack’s statement, made in the aftermath of Lauer’s firing, in which the NBC News chief called the host’s conduct “appalling.”
NBC News said in a statement on Wednesday, “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”