Today show viewers may have been shocked by the news of Matt Lauer's firing for "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace," but as time wears on, it's becoming apparent that his behavior was fairly commonplace.
Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's morning show Morning Joe, said on Thursday's episode that he once left an event "roasting" Lauer because the jokes were so over-the-top sexual.
At the 2008 Lauer roast at the Friar's Club in New York, Scarborough said that "there were a thousand people in the audience like the most powerful people in media and everybody that came up was making fun of Matt Lauer, about pushing himself on people."
Scarborough went on to say that not only was Lauer's behavior whispered about behind closed doors for years, but it was also widely acknowledged.
"But the whole theme was he does the show and then he has sex with people, with employees. So was this whispered behind closed doors? No, it was shouted from the mountaintops and everybody laughed about it, which tells you what culture used to be," Scarborough said.
"I remember sitting there, like, wait, this is? Wait, what's going on? I actually left early, but I've got to say, because, and I remember, I came back and it was like shocked by what I had just seen and I'm not shocked by much," he added.
Earlier in the show, Scarborough's finacée and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, told viewers that she, too, was aware of rumors of Lauer's behavior.
"We all have to say that when this story broke, to be very honest, I was not shocked and so what does that mean? Does that mean I should have said something? I don't know Matt Lauer. I never work with him," Brzezinski said.
"But I've always heard stories about him kind of fooling around or whatever," she added.
NBC News chairman Andy Lack called Lauer's behavior "appalling" in a company-wide memo Friday morning and promised to undertake a "thorough and timely review of what happened."
Scarbourogh and Brzezinski's comments are in line with a Friday report from Page Six detailing current and former Today staffers saying Lauer's behavior was tolerated by not only upper management, but his direct co-workers as well.
"Everybody at NBC knew about Matt Lauer’s sexually inappropriate behavior — and knew not to talk about it," a current Today show staffer told the publication.
"Women did complain about his behavior, and there were a lot of closed-door meetings before it was all brushed under the carpet," the source added.
One staffer told the Post that Lauer's "sexual conquests were general office fodder. There was constant innuendo in the office about which woman had just had sex with Matt and which one would be next."
"The show was a total boys’ club, even despite it having a very large female staff," one source said. "There was a boys’ club mentality in the control room and in the hallways, and any complaints about that were dismissed," the source said. "It was always made out that these affairs were consensual, a joke about how many women had slept with Matt or had affairs with him. It was never suggested that the women were victims."
A source with knowledge of the former anchor's firing said Lauer "was shocked and dumbfounded and completely bewildered by what happened."0comments
"He never expected this. He had felt like he was invulnerable — like Superman," the source added.
The same insider also told the publication that Lauer did not see the instance of sexual misconduct that led to his firing in the same way as his unnamed alleged victim. In fact, "in [Lauer’s] mind, this had been a consensual affair. And a long-term one at that."