An internal NBC investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former “Today” show host Matt Lauer released Wednesday “found no evidence” that leadership at the network or show received any complaints about the ousted personality’s “workplace behavior” prior to November.
Additionally, the report found, “All four women who came forward confirmed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer.”
The investigation, launched shortly after Lauer’s ouster in November and led by NBCUniversal general counsel Kim Harris, comes amid increased scrutiny over the network’s handling of sexual harassment allegations and a string of troubling revelations about their former star morning show host.
The probe included interviews with nearly 70 current and former NBC staffers, including former executives Steve Capus, Jim Bell and Pat Fili-Krushel, and focused on the allegations of four women who came forward late last year.
Lauer was fired on Nov. 29 over what the company called “inappropriate sexual behavior” after news outlets unearthed claims from women that the host sexually harassed them during his time at the network.
NBC said in its report that it acted against Lauer after a complainant came forward in the days prior and accused him of engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with her on several occasions in 2014.”
Lauer later publicly apologized for the “pain I caused” and “admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the complainant” to NBC, according to the document, but has contested some of the allegations against him.
The findings come as numerous reports on Lauer’s alleged misconduct have detailed efforts by women to report his behavior to management at NBC. Variety reported in November prior to Lauer’s firing that several women said “they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today.’”
The Washington Post wrote in an attention-grabbing report published last month that Ann Curry, Lauer’s former co-host on the “Today” show, said in 2012 she “approached two members of NBC’s management team after an NBC female staffer told her she was ‘sexually harassed physically’ by Lauer.”
The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Post she went to management and told them “they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” but declined to name whom she spoke to. NBC said it had no record of the warning.
According to the new report, the company “found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or Today Show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to November 27, 2017.”
The network has faced questions over its shifting statements on Lauer. NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack initially said in a memo that the complaint filed by a woman prior to Lauer’s ouster was the first one received “about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News.”
In a second statement, the network said “current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct.”
In a memo to NBC News staffers on Wednesday, Lack discussed the challenges of grappling with the controversy.
“The last few months have been extraordinarily difficult, with our dedicated journalists doing some of our best work ever while we endured a painful period in the spotlight including a thorough and deserved examination,” he wrote. “This has been felt by everyone in the organization, most importantly several of our colleagues who were deeply affected. I admire their bravery and am profoundly grateful for their candor.”
Though the report did not find evidence management received complaints, it said witnesses interviewed cited “concerns about reporting inappropriate workplace conduct to News HR,” including, “a lack of familiarity with News HR representatives; a fear of retaliation; a belief that complaints cannot or will not be kept confidential; and a lack of a private environment in which to raise issues, because News HR sits in glass-walled offices among other News Division employees.”