It’s been more than a month since Matt Lauer was fired from “Today” due to allegations of sexual harassment, and the disgraced morning show star’s longtime co-host Katie Couric is now breaking her silence to address the firing.
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Couric, 61, tells People. “The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the ‘Today’ show experienced this kind of treatment.”
Couric, who worked alongside Lauer from 1997 until she left the show in 2006, says that she had no knowledge of Lauer’s alleged behaviour.
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” she adds. “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”
Couric is referring to an appearance she made with Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live” in which her joke that Lauer “pinches me on the ass a lot” was perceived as early evidence of Lauer’s alleged pattern of sexually harassing female colleagues.
This is the first time that Couric has spoken in detail about Lauer’s firing. Shortly after Lauer was axed, Couric was taken to task by an Instagram user for not publicly addressing the firing, leading her to issue a brief response: “It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to,” Couric wrote. “Thanks for your interest.”