“We’ve all hear these rumors for years, have we not?” Lauer’s former Today in New York co-host Erin Hanson told Erin Burnett on CNN’s OutFront Wednesday. She quickly clarified that those rumblings were all about consensual relationships.
“I was the first person that he worked with when he came to NBC and when he came he had been at a number of different programs, none of which had been successful,” she said. “He was thinking about becoming a tree-trimmer, that he was going to give up broadcasting.”
Hanson said that Lauer entered the Today in New York family in the early 1990s, but his demeanor changed as he grew more comfortable — and powerful — within the company.
“When he came to that program he was humble and grateful, and what I saw was a lot of change over the years,” she said. “But back then, there were no signs of any of this.”
Lauer’s impressive two-decade career with NBC crumbled on Wednesday when Today co-host Savannah Guthrie announced he had been terminated based on a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
The network received the complaint on Monday evening and worked quickly to resolve the situation, informing Lauer of his termination on Tuesday night. Reports claim that the victim presented text messages and photos from Lauer, which began during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The evidence “showed incontrovertible proof of inappropriate sexual behavior on his part,” a source told Page Six, forcing NBC to cut the tenured anchor. NBC Chairman Andy Lack also suggested that there may be other victims of Lauer's misconduct, then two women at NBC came forward following his termination.
On Thursday, Today released a statement by Lauer in which he admitted that allegations against him present “enough truth” to make him feel “embarrassed and ashamed,” though he claimed not all the information being circulated is accurate.
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job,” he added.
Lauer’s firing came one week after CBS terminated long-time host Charlie Rose, who is accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.