"I think it was a shock to everybody," Geist said. "I started filing in for Matt in 2010. I wasn't close to him outside of work, but I considered him a friend and mentor. Certainly, he was somebody I looked up to. He was the guy who was considered the best at that job, at hosting a morning show. So, yeah, I think we were all surprised and I think we're all still a little bit shocked by it."
Geist currently hosts Sunday Today, in addition to appearing on Morning Joe on MSNBC. The 42-year-old journalist has repeatedly denied rumors that he's looking to replace Lauer, reiterating that once again.
"I'll just be totally honest with you: I love Morning Joe," he said. "I'm on the show that is the place to go in the morning for the hottest story in the world, which is Donald Trump. And I have a show on Sunday — a Today show with my name on it — where I get to write it and help control the content and interview people I find incredibly interesting. I really genuinely love these two jobs."
Geist's total shock at Lauer's fall from grace isn't shared by everyone. While the public knew Lauer as a harmless, subdued morning news figure, many people who worked with him over the years have corroborated stories that he had an aggressive streak in his personality.
Lauer's dismissal has been vindicating for some people who felt they couldn't stand up to him, such as Cory Feldman. Feldman's ongoing crusade against abuse of child stars in Hollywood was damaged by an interview with Lauer, which the then-Today host didn't take seriously.
Since the allegations against Lauer first received wide coverage, Feldman has spoken out against him several times. "He is the problem," he said on a recent episode of Dr. Oz.
When NBC fired Lauer, they claimed they were acting on a single complaint lodged by an employee less than 36 hours earlier. However, the very same day, Variety published a report containing several specific accusations against Lauer, gathered through dozens of interviews over the course of a two month investigation.