"The whole thing has been very painful for me," the "Today" co-host told PEOPLE. "The accounts I've read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it's completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment."
Lauer was let go after an employee made allegations of "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace." At the time, NBC said his behavior "may not have been an isolated incident." Though Couric was a longtime co-host of Lauer's, she claims to have had no idea of his wrongdoings.
"I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect ... It's still very upsetting," she said. "I really admire the way Savannah and Hoda and the entire 'Today' show staff have handled a very difficult situation."
The announcement of his firing was made live on air at the end of November. Anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were visibly shaken by the news saying, "How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?"
Kotb has since been announced as Lauer's permanent replacement.