Katie Couric Opens Up About Matt Lauer’s ‘Today’ Show Firing: ‘It’s Been Really Crushing’

Katie Couric Matt Lauer Today Show Firing
Matt Lauer and Katie Couric attend the Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 21, 2015. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Katie Couric opened up about her former Today show cohost Matt Lauer being fired by NBC News in late November for alleged sexual misconduct.

“It’s been really crushing,” the 61-year-old told Entertainment Tonight on Saturday, January 13. “I think there’s been a lot of cognitive dissonance for me and a lot of people on the show, and clearly the behavior was unacceptable and shocking for so many of us, and yet we also all knew a side of Matt and many positive attributes. So to try to kind of make sense of it has been … almost impossible and very challenging.”

Couric declined to comment on whether she has been in contact with Lauer, 60, but she did send her love to Hoda Kotb, who was named Savannah Guthrie’s new Today coanchor earlier this month.

“I think Savannah and Hoda and the whole Today show staff took a very upsetting and incredibly troubling situation and were able to handle it with a lot of dignity and grace, and I really applaud them all,” the journalist told ET. “It’s been a very trying situation in all corners of the world, and all kinds of industries, and you know, people have to move forward.”

Couric also addressed a recently resurfaced remark she made about Lauer during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in 2012. When asked at the time about the veteran journalist’s most annoying habit, she responded, “He pinches me on the ass a lot.”

Now, the former Yahoo! global news anchor says her comment was taken out of context. “It’s a silly joke on a late-night show that was just that, a silly joke,” she explained. “People, I think, read into everything these days, and I think it just goes with the territory. But it was nice for me to be able to say that was a joke.”

Lauer issued an apology shortly after his firing, saying some of the allegations made against him were “untrue or mischaracterized,” but admitted that there was “enough truth” in some of the stories “to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”

In a recent statement to Us Weekly, Couric said, “The whole thing has been very painful for me. The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment. I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left. I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah and Hoda and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”

Speaking at a Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, Couric discussed how her upcoming National Geographic docuseries, America Inside Out With Katie Couric, tackles the aftermath of the many sexual misconduct allegations that have struck Hollywood heavyweights, including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, in recent months.

“One of the great things about the Time’s Up movement is that it’s going to help women who are underserved, who are marginalized, who don’t have the means, and don’t necessarily have the ability to stand up for themselves,” she said. “They have everything to lose, and often don’t have that luxury.”

Couric first addressed the news of Lauer’s firing in an Instagram comment in December. In response to a fan, she wrote, “It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to.” Couric and Lauer cohosted Today together from 1997 to 2006.

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