Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb said they were ‘disturbed’ to the core by new allegations against Matt Lauer that he anally raped an NBC producer in 2014.
The pair, who replaced Lauer as a duo when he was fired by Today in 2017, said they stood with the alleged victim, Brooke Nevils, and commended her for coming forward.
Nevils was who reported Lauer to NBC bosses in 2017 at the height of the #MeToo movement. It was her claim that he’d sexually assaulted her while they were in Sochi covering the 2014 Winter Olympics that got him fired.
While the allegation was reported at the time, she was not identified and no other details other than that there was an alleged attack in a hotel room and that she was a producer for Meredith Vieira were known.
Now, she has spoken out for Ronan Farrow’s new book – Catch and Kill. In it, she describes in graphic detail how Lauer ‘anally raped’ her after pushing her onto the bed in his hotel room despite her claiming that repeatedly that she did not want to have anal sex.
She claims she wept silently into a pillow as he forced himself on her.
On Wednesday, Guthrie and Kotb had introduced another reporter to present Today’s segment on the new allegations when, afterwards, Guthrie said: ‘We owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment. This is shocking and appalling and, I honestly don’t even know what to say about it.’
She went on to commend Nevils, calling her ‘our colleague’, for coming forward then and now.
‘I want to say that we, I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it wasn’t easy now, and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims.
‘It’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult,’ she said.
Kotb added: ‘I am looking at you and having a weird moment. We were sitting here like this two years ago and truth to be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs before just to sort out what we were going to do.
‘It’s like, you feel like you’ve known someone for 12 years, I don’t know if you guys have ever felt like that, you feel like you know them inside out and all of a sudden a door opens up – it’s a part of them you didn’t know. We don’t know all the facts of this.
‘There are not allegations of an affair. There are allegations of a crime.’
She went on: ‘Our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did, to come forward, it’s not easy at all.’
Guthrie then finished off: ‘I think I speak for all of us. We are disturbed to our core and we have a commitment to keep you informed and we will continue to do that.’
In a statement earlier on Wednesday, an NBC spokesman told DailyMail.com: ‘Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time.
‘That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.’
Lauer has not yet commented on the claims. He in the past denied forcing himself on anyone and said any sexual encounters he had were consensual.
Nevils was working as a producer for Meredith Vieira at the time and says she went to Lauer’s room after a night of drinking while the pair were part of a larger NBC team based in Sochi.
It was the second time that night she had gone to his room. The first, she said, was to retrieve her media credentials which she says Lauer took ‘as a joke’ and the second was because he invited her back.
She claims he was dressed in a t-shirt and boxers and, she said, pushed her against the door and kissed her when she got into the room. At the time, she was 30 and he was 56.
He then, she claims, pushed her onto the bed, flipped her over and asked ‘if she liked anal sex.’
‘She said that she declined several times,’ Farrow wrote in the book, according to Variety which obtained a copy of it and published the new details on Wednesday.
Farrow wrote that Nevils was ‘in the midst of telling him “no” when he “just did it”.
‘Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. ‘
“It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?” She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow. Lauer then asked her if she liked it.
‘She tells him yes. She claims that “she bled for days,”‘ Farrow wrote.
Nevils said she was both ‘too drunk’ to consent and that she said no ‘multiple times’, according to Farrow.
‘It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent. It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex,’ Farrow said she told him.
Once the pair got back to New York, they had more sexual encounters.
Farrow says that sources ‘close to Lauer’ say she initiated those encounters.
‘What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I’d spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her.
“This is what I blame myself most for. It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship,”‘ she said.
Nevils said she was ‘terrified’ about the control Lauer had over her career.
But Nevils says her allegations were dismissed by staff who said Lauer had done nothing ‘criminal’.
‘This was not a secret,’ Farrow writes, citing her claim that ‘like a million people knew’.
It was only when the #MeToo movement against Harvey Weinstein erupted that Nevils was sincerely asked by Today colleagues about Lauer who had a reputation for infidelity and impropriety.
It was then she went to Meredith Vieira, who she had been working for at the time, and told her what had happened, she said.
Farrow writes that Vieira told her to go to NBC HR with a lawyer and that she was ‘distraught’.
‘Nevils’s work life became torture. She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her,’ Farrow wrote.
Farrow also claims that because Andrew Lack, NBC’s Chairman, wrote in an email to staff that Lauer had been fired over an alleged incident which occurred at the Sochi Games, it narrowed down the list of possibilities as to who his alleged victim might be.
She had been promised anonymity, she said, but everyone soon figured out that she was the person who had reported him.
Nevils said she then went on paid medical leave and eventually took a payout from NBC.
Farrow says it was a seven-figure sum but that it came with a ‘script’ from executives who wanted her to paint the network glowingly.
‘The network proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment,’ he wrote.
Sources at NBC told Variety they were yet to read the book, but they plan to defend the company against any of Farrow’s criticisms.
Lauer was fired from his $25million-per-year post on Today hours after the woman informed NBC executives of the affair.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail – Jennifer Smith