Lauer's NBC colleagues among the first to publicly react, since they were tasked with delivering the news, and Donald Trump quickly weighs in.
Viewers tuning into "Today" on Wednesday morning found themselves as shocked as co-hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker to discover that Matt Lauer had been fired overnight by NBC for allegations of what the network described as "inappropriate sexual behavior."
"We just learned this moments ago, just this morning," Guthrie told viewers, still visibly trying to wrap her mind around it.
Lauer's firing makes "Today" the second major morning show rocked by the ongoing sexual harassment scandal that has swept through Hollywood and the media since dozens of disturbing Harvey Weinstein allegations surfaced in October. Charlie Rose was fired last week, leaving his "CBS This Morning" co-hosts in a similar state of disbelief. On Wednesday, Gayle King reacted to the Lauer bombshell by saying she had "a sickening feeling of deja vu."
"But it does send the message that you are not too big to fall," she added.
Guthrie opened the "Today" broadcast with the shocking news about her long-time colleague, saying they received word from an internal memo by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack. The memo stated that this was the first allegation the network had received against Lauer, but that the network was "also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC News. On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. pic.twitter.com/1A3UAZpvPb— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 29, 2017
"How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?" Guthrie asked. "I don’t know the answer to that."
She went on to add, "This reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected."
Megyn Kelly, who joined "Today" recently, addressed the issue during her show as well. "I see the anguish on my colleagues faces," she said. "But when this happens, what we don't see is the pain on the faces of those with the courage to come forward. And it is a terrifying thing to do. We don't see the career opportunities that women lose because of sexual harassment, or the intense stress it causes a woman dealing with it when she comes to work each day.
"I'm grappling with, should I even share something? But I guess I really should," Kathie Lee Gifford said at the top of her hour. "I don't feel that Matt has betrayed us in any way at all but when I found out that my husband had betrayed me, you question your own judgment. You say, 'Was everything a lie?' And I think we have to very much fight against that, that the man we know and adored was the man we loved and adored and continue to. I texted him this morning and said, 'I adore you.' No person is perfect in this world ... and what we need now is forgiveness and mercy for one another."
A female staffer came forward internally at NBC News on Monday with detailed allegations about Lauer's alleged inappropriate behavior during the Sochi Olympics. The New York Post initially reported a source said the offense was "sexual assault," but the publication has since tweeted an update: "Sources initially told The Post that Lauer had been accused of sexual assault during the Sochi Olympics, but later said it was inappropriate sexual behavior."
The news rocked social media as well, quickly catapulting "Matt Lauer" to the top of Twitter's trending terms, with "Today Show" not far behind. Even the President Donald Trump chimed in.
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
HMMMMM INTERESTING.....THIS MIGHT EXPLAIN THE HOSTILE INTERVIEW WHILE I WAS TRYING 2 EXPOSE THE #TRUTH....EH MATT? NBC Fires Matt Lauer Over Sexual Misconduct Allegation - The New York Times https://t.co/ZYQVSLR4U4— Corey Feldman (@Corey_Feldman) November 29, 2017
Matt Lauer lost his job.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) November 29, 2017
Charlie Rose lost his job.
Mark Halperin lost his job.
Glenn Thrush lost his job.
Billy Bush lost his job.
Harvey Weinstein lost his job.
Kevin Spacey lost his job.
But in politics...
Conyers still in Congress.
Moore still running.
Trump still President.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Matt Lauer. "Today Show" #ROSEARMY— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) November 29, 2017
For those who never knew how bad the abuse of power has been there’s understandable shock & horror w every new story. But for those of us who’ve had to endure it & been punished or humiliated for speaking up, this day of reckoning is a blessing. Today we matter & I’m so grateful. https://t.co/1idYYRzpwC— om (@oliviamunn) November 29, 2017
Matt Lauer has been on my list for a while. It’s really too bad more Americans don’t come to my shows. I pretty much recite the list in every show. Haha. I told you, my memory is long, my friends. I’ve been around a long time...— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) November 29, 2017
An SNL sketch where the reporters report on their own sexual misconduct and firings but they don't know it until live prompter— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) November 29, 2017
Matt? Lauer? You’re joking? Right? Men have dropped their...oh, what’s the use.— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 29, 2017
Careful, now. While we all focus on Matt Lauer & Trump insinuating that another tv host is a murderer, the GOP Congress is gonna keep trying to ruin the economy Kansas-style— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) November 29, 2017
As Trump drags Matt LAUER this morning on Twitter, let’s not forget the ACCESS HOLLYWOOD tape where TRUMP admits to sexual assault... “grab them by the...”— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) November 29, 2017
Read NBC's full memo below:
On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment.
While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.