Esquire | 8/7/2018 | By David Usborne
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It was a little before dawn on the last Wednesday in November, and the robin-egg blue of the slowly brightening sky heralded a fine day—good news for NBC as it prepared for the evening’s Christmas- tree-lighting special, hosted again by then- fifty-nine-year-old Today anchor Matt Lauer, at Rockefeller Center, the network’s home. Yet as the crews for that morning’s broadcast filed sleepily into Studio 1A, where Today is shot, rumors had begun circulating. Lauer hadn’t been to hair and makeup. He wasn’t in his dressing room. His car hadn’t shown. Where in the world was he?

Only a select few were in the know. Savannah Guthrie, who’d cohosted Today since 2012, received a call while en route to the studio. Hoda Kotb’s phone had rung earlier. She’d be cohosting with Guthrie from the top of the show that day instead of starting at her usual ten o’clock hour. The digital clocks around Studio 1A read 06:45—fifteen minutes until airtime—when executive producer Don Nash, whose youthful mien belied his almost three decades at the network, gathered everyone around. (Weeks later, in a post-Lauer purge, Nash would be ousted and replaced by Libby Leist, reportedly a favorite of Guthrie’s.) In shock himself, Nash simply read a statement that was to be released minutes later to the press in the name of Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News.

NBC - Complaint - Colleague - Behavior - Workplace

NBC had received a complaint from a colleague about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” it began, going on to say that the network had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” Then the bomb drop: “We’ve decided to terminate his employment.”

Everyone behind Studio 1A’s glass windows was aghast. A few wept. Were they really cutting Lauer loose?

Breakfast - Company - Millions - Decades

He had been the breakfast company of millions for two decades, a trusted...
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