Addie Collins Zinone, a former Today staffer, came forward on December 14 to detail what she called a consensual affair with disgraced NBC host Matt Lauer in 2000. Now, she says, she’s being shamed.
In a detailed first-person account published in Variety, Zinone recounted how the married journalist pursued a sexual relationship with her when she was just 24 years old and working as a production assistant at the network. Zinzone, an Iraq War combat veteran, explained she wanted to go public to “squash any doubts” about allegations against the disgraced Lauer.
Though many praised Zinone for sharing her experience, others took to social media to blame her for having an affair.
“The blowback has been . . . I expected it, when my husband and I decided that I was actually going to go forward with this and speak out and become a face, I expected some blowback of course,” Zinone, 41, revealed during a Monday, December 18, appearance on Megyn Kelly Today. “I understand that people are going to paint me as a home-wrecker, as a slut and a whore and those are things I have been called. It was suggested yesterday to me that ‘Please please go get hit by a bus.’”
But Zinone has no regrets, explaining to Kelly that she went public after she saw that many of Lauer’s accusers were being doubted. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to validate their claims,’” she said, adding that there are commonalities to all of their stories and alleging Lauer has a consistent pattern of “predatory behavior.”
Zinone admitted she feels ashamed for what she did 17 years ago. “This shatters my family. They’re afraid for me. This all trickles down to a lot of people being affected, so having these conversations is important,” she told Kelly. “But also, there’s a lot of shame attached to what I did . . . Everything was a massive mistake and I know who I am at my core and the core values I have, but of course, you carry shame. He had a wife. You do carry that your whole life. You’re thinking: ‘Why could I not get out of it? Why did I do that?’”
According to Zinone’s Variety story, Lauer sent her an instant message “out of the blue” in July 2000. “I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic,” read his alleged message. “I don’t know what you have done or what is going on in your life . . . but it’s agreeing with you.”
Their exchanges remained platonic until one day after lunch when Lauer allegedly told Zinone to meet him in his dressing room. That was the first time the two had sex, she claimed. According to Zinone, they would sleep together several more times over the course of a month.
In November, NBC News fired Lauer from the Today show after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterize,” Lauer told Us Weekly in a statement at the time. “But there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
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