Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were visibly shaken by a new rape allegation made against their former Today show colleague Matt Lauer.
“I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment. You know, this is shocking and appalling and I honestly don’t even know what to say about it,” Guthrie, 47, said during the NBC morning show’s broadcast on Wednesday, October 9, as her voice broke. “I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke [Nevils] to come forward then, it’s not easy now, and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. It’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult.”
Kotb, 55, then revealed that she and Guthrie “did a little prayer upstairs” before going live in the studio.
“You feel like you’ve known someone for 12 years … and then all of a sudden, a door opens up and it’s a part of them you didn’t know,” Kotb continued. “We don’t know all the facts in all of this, but they’re not allegations of an affair; they’re allegations of a crime. I think that’s shocking to all of us here who’ve sat with Matt for many, many years. So, I think we’re gonna just continue to process this part of this horrific story. And, as [Savannah] said, our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did to come forward.”
Guthrie added, “I think I speak for all of us: We’re disturbed to our core. And we have a commitment to keep you informed and we’ll continue to do that.”
The coanchors’ response came hours after Nevils, the former NBC News employee whose complaint about Lauer led to his firing in 2017, came forward with the full details of her claims for the first time.
Nevils alleged in investigative journalist Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book, Catch and Kill, that Lauer, 61, anally raped her in his hotel room during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she claimed in the book, per Variety. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Nevils said she later told NBC’s Meredith Vieira what had allegedly happened, and Vieira, 65, urged her to go to human resources with a lawyer, which she did.
Lauer fired back against the allegation in a lengthy letter obtained by Variety on Wednesday, writing in part, “In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts and defies common sense. I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014.”
In a statement to Us Weekly, NBC News says, “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.”
Guthrie and Kotb announced the news of Lauer’s firing on air in November 2017, revealing at the time that an unnamed “colleague” made “a detailed complaint … about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” Multiple women subsequently came forward with allegations of misconduct against Lauer.
The veteran journalist apologized for his behavior in a statement at the time, although he claimed that “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized.” However, he admitted that there was “enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
Lauer and his wife of nearly 21 years, Annette Roque, with whom he shares children Jack, 18, Romy, 16, and Thijs, 12, separated in the wake of the scandal. They finalized their divorce in September.
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