Katie Couric was clueless about “Today” show partner Matt Lauer’s rampant sexual misconduct — and still can’t wrap her head around his stunning dismissal.
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” Couric told People magazine in her first comments since Lauer’s late November firing.
“I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew,” Couric continued. “Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect … It’s still very upsetting.”
Couric anchored the morning show from 1991 to 2006, while Lauer served as co-anchor from 1997 to 2017. She said the two had a “brother-sister relationship” during their nine years on “Today.”
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” the 61-year-old told the mag. “It’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the ‘Today’ show experienced this kind of treatment.”
Matt Lauer says his farewell to Katie Couric, his exiting co-host of the NBC “Today” television program in the studio, Wednesday May 31, 2006.
The television veteran faced a backlash for staying quiet on the issue since the news broke, issuing just a single tweet as Lauer’s demise became front-page news.
“It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to,” she wrote in December. “Thanks for your interest.”
NBC issued a statement at the end of November announcing Lauer’s network ouster, referring to a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior.”
The statement continued by mentioning the network had reason to believe it “may not have been an isolated incident.”
Stars accused of sexual harassment and assault
After the news broke, several anonymous women — all former or current NBC employees — revealed Lauer, 60, allegedly harassed or assaulted them sexually.
Reports emerged of Lauer’s sexual encounters inside his 30 Rockefeller Plaza office, equipped with a remote-controlled door lock, and in a bathroom at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
Lauer publicly apologized for his actions, but disputed some of the allegations.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed,” Lauer said in a statement.
Journalist Katie Couric finally has something to say about her former co-host Matt Lauer after he was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.
(Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME)
“To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.”
Couric offered praise for the current “Today” show staff for their handling of the turmoil and turnover.
“I really admire the way Savannah (Guthrie) and Hoda Kotb and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation,” she said.