Padma Lakshmi was on her way to do a cooking segment with Matt Lauer on the Today show when news of his firing broke on Wednesday, November 29. The Top Chef host revealed in an Instagram post that she was driving uptown as she watched Savannah Guthrie announce the news of his termination on air, and she was “utterly shaken up” about the sexual harassment allegations made against him.
“I must say that in all the many years I have been on the @TodayShow I have only experienced a warm, cordial and respectful environment. When I walked into 30 Rock it felt like someone had died,” Lakshmi, 47, wrote. “The mood was somber to say the least, shell shocked would be more accurate. Like finding out your dad has been cheating on your mom and the happy family you thought you were living in is in fact broken.”
Lakshmi also noted that Lauer was always “empathic, kind, totally appropriate, and respectful” to her.
“But as someone who has experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment I know how hard it is to come forward or even properly process that it is indeed happening to you. Especially when it’s someone who holds such a high place in one’s profession,” she continued. “I don’t know who the women who have come forward are but I can tell you how hard it is to even admit that it’s actually happened. You feel utterly intimidated and often blame yourself. There is little upside for a victim speaking out. And as a victim myself I am thankful they did.”
Lauer’s controversy comes on the heels of sexual misconduct claims made against Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and more men in Hollywood. Last week, Charlie Rose was fired from CBS and PBS amid sexual misconduct allegations.
“I am deeply saddened about Matt as I am saddened about @CharlieRose, two people I have very much looked up to in television. Their presence and contributions to our industry will be sorely missed,” Lakshmi added on Wednesday. “But I stand in solidarity with the victims. And while this is a painful period in our cultural history, it is a good and necessary purging of one of the most harmful aspects of the ‘old boys club’. There is always pain when the thorn gets pulled out of the flesh. But only when it’s gone can the healing begin. #MeToo.”
On Thursday, Lauer released a statement amid the scandal. He said that some stories about him are “untrue or mischaracterized but there is enough truth in these stories” to make him “feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
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