Matt Lauer fired for alleged 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace'

NBC News' longtime "Today Show" host was fired after the company received a "detailed complaint from a colleague," the network said today.
10:31 | 11/30/17

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Transcript for Matt Lauer fired for alleged 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace'
Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC news. Reporter: This morning, a bombshell announcement about NBC "Today" show coanchor Matt Lauer. As I'm sure you can imagine, we are devastated. We are still processing all of this. Reporter: The anchorman who had been welcomed into America's living rooms for more than 20 years accused of sexual harassment, cut from the airwaves after one woman came forward with an allegation of sexual misconduct by Lawer this is a very tough morning for both of us. Reporter: Late today an explosive article by "Variety" describing alleged patterns of lewd behavior by Lauer. According to "Variety" he once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present that included an explicit note. Another employee claims he summoned her to his office and dropped his pants and that he was known for making off-color comments verbally and over text messages. Tonight "The New York Times" reports two more women have come forward with allegations of misconduct by the legendary newsman. I'm heart broken for Matt, I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell. And we are grappling wh a dilemma that's so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don't know the answer to that. Reporter: In a statement, NBC chairman Andrew lack said, 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 20 years he's been at NBC news, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident. His co-workers, past and present today in a state of shock. I see the anguish on my colleagues' faces. But when this happens what we don't see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come for pif ward. It as terrifying thing to do. This is hard for me to hear, I grew up with the "Today" show. No one gets a pass, this behavior is never okay. I personally had such great experiences with Matt. And he was someone that cle cheerleaded for me and supported me. Reporter: Ann curry, famously ousted from the "Today" show, tells "People" magazine she's still processing. The battle lines are now clear, we need to move to revolution forward and make our workplaces safe. Corporate America is quite clearly failing to do so. Unless it does something to change that, we need to keep doing more ourselves. While so many are voicing support for the victims, others are offering compassion for Lauer. I don't feel Matt has betrayed us. I texted him did morning, said I adore you and no person is perfect in this world, nobody is, we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of god is what scripture says. Reporter: Today in that "Variety" article, three women coming forward as vehicletives of alleged sexual misconduct by Lauer. Very serious allegations and sensitive materials. Reporter: Elizabeth wagmeister is one of the writers of the report. When the Harvey Weinstein story broke, of course a number of names came out. And we just kept hearing, you've got to look into Matt Lauer. Of course rumors have followed Matt Lauer for a years, there's a lot of tabloid reports about his behavior. But we heard that it was a bit deeper. Reporter: The "Variety" report states Lauer's alleged misconduct was not a secret at "Today." Several women say their complaints to management about him fell on deaf ears. In response NBC said, we can say unequivocally prior to Monday night, current NBC news management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer's conduct." As for the accuser who went to NBC news Monday with her attorney -- Welcome to "Today" and to Sochi, Russia on a Wednesday morning -- Reporter: NBC says the alleged inappropriate behavior started at the 2014 olympics in Sochi and continued for months after the games. The accuser's attorney said in a statement, my client and I met with representatives from NBC's human resources and legal departments at 6:00 P.M. On Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands, other than the company do the right thing." It's very difficult to come forward against a very rich, famous, powerful supervisor or someone at her place of employment who might have influence. Reporter: Powerhouse lawyer Gloria Allred has helped give voice to so many women who say they've been abused by other high-profile men. A host of a major television show and morning show has to maintain a certain image. If the host's brand as a squeaky-clean host is tarnished by his own conduct, he becomes a liability to the network. Reporter: And tonight the tree lighting at Rockefeller center went on without him. Five, four, three, two, one -- ??? joy to the world ??? A large crowd gathered in Rockefeller center for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Traditionally Matt Lauer is part of the event. He was scheduled to be once again this year. Until his termination earlier today. Lauer has been a staple of the NBC holiday season. Good morning, everyone, happy Thanksgiving. Reporter: Just last week hosting the annual Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. Known for his travels around the world. Where in the world is Matt Lauer? Reporter: And his contentious interviews like this one with Tom Cruise back in 2005. Aren't there examples where it works? Matt, Matt, Matt. You don't even -- Reporter: With the 2016 presidential candidates. They wonder about your temperament. A special Monday morning for our friend Matt Lauer -- Reporter: From that first "Today" show episode over 20 years ago, Lauer rose to stardom, later becoming one of the highest-paid television news anchors in history. This is the face of the "Today" show. And he's gone. Matt Lauer is, in terms of a power list of major media figures, within the top five. Within the top three. Reporter: But now he joins a different list. Media giants to fall from grace in a story now all too familiar. I look at that picture and I have a sickening feeling of deja Vu. Because we're dealing with our own situation. But it sends the message in shows, that you are not too big to fall. Reporter: Last week CBS this morning coanchor Charlie rose was fired after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Lauer joins the ranks of disgraced media giants. Charlie rose, fox CEO Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, and former MSNBC contributor mark Halperin, once the political director here at ABC. Growing controversy surrounding Charlie rose -- Reporter: Little did he know his own reporting would seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You would probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire, because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on, you carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn't it seem safe to assume that the people at fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News? That's a false assumption. There were a lot of other business things in play at that time. And still today. When Matt Lauer interviewed Bill O'Reilly about his sexual harassment history, there had to have been a lot of Snickers and a lot of perhaps soul-searching among staff at that program. Think about those five women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been. Doesn't that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you? Reporter: The O'Reilly accusations came as part of a tidal wave of change that began last year. Growing claims against fox News chief Roger Ailes -- Reporter: Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued her former boss, the late Roger Ailes, and Fox News, for sexual harassment in 2016. Walking away with a $20 million settlement. After my story broke 16 months ago, and all these women started reaching out to me, I realized how pervasive the problem was. And it was really crossing every socioeconomic line and every profession from waitresses to Wall Street bankers to members of our military and everyone in between. Hey, hey, ho, ho -- Reporter: Since then women from all walks of life have come forward with their own stories, marching together to end the silence, #metoo was born. But on capitol hill, change is not so swift. From Al Franken to John Conyers to Roy Moore to the president himself, all accused of sexual misconduct, all still hanging on to power. This morning, president trump tweeted, wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, but when will the top executives at NBC and Comcast be fired for putting out so much fake news. No politician has lost his job in this recent wave, despite very high-profile allegations. The biggest difference that is they don't really have bosses. Congress reports to itself and sets its own rules to police itself is and is notoriously bad at doing so. Reporter: Consequences or not some have called the wave of public attention to sexual misconduct a reckoning. This power differential has now shifted. We are going to assert our power. We are empowered. And the fact that these people are famous but have hurt us, we're just not going to live in fear anymore. Reporter: Tonight, Lauer remains silent, still offering no comment on the allegations. For "Nightline," I'm linsey Davis in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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