In an internal memo shared with staff on Wednesday, Oct. 9, NBC News Chief Andy Lack addressed the rape allegations raised against disgraced former Today anchor Matt Lauer. The allegation, which ultimately led to Lauers' 2017 firing, were brought to light in Ronan Farrow's new book Catch and Kill, in which former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils accuses Lauer of raping her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"This morning, reporting around Ronan Farrow's new book revealed deeply disturbing details related to the incident that led to Matt Lauer's termination from NBC. I want to take a moment to communicate with you about this. First, and most importantly, in reading today's news our hearts go out to our former colleague," the letter, obtained by Us Weekly, begins. "Matt Lauer's conduct in 2014 was appalling and reprehensible – and of course we said so at the time. The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours. Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer's conduct is absolutely false and offensive."
Lack went on to explain why the term "sexual misconduct," rather than assault or rape, was used to "describe the reason for Lauer's" November 2017 firing,
"We chose those words carefully to precisely mirror the public words at that time of the attorney representing our former NBC colleague," he writes. "In the past two years we have taken significant steps to improve our culture and ensure we have a workplace where everyone feels safe and respected, as well as protected in raising claims. Since then, we've required all NBC News employees to complete in-person workplace behavior trainings and we've significantly increased awareness of the ways employees can report concerns – anonymously or otherwise."
"Let me remind you of who we really are. Our journalists have been at the forefront of blockbuster investigations into sexual harassment and abuse on many stories – many pre-dating Weinstein – including USA Gymnastics, Silicon Valley, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, and more," Lack's letter concludes. "To get across the finish line on big stories like these takes exceptional work, collaboration, patience, and a commitment to a set of standards and practices that ultimately lends our work great credibility."
According to Nevils, as published in Farrow's book, Lauer forced himself on her when she was "too drunk to consent" and had "declined several times." Lauer, however, has fiercely denied the allegations, claiming that what occurred at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was entirely consensual and the start of their affair.