The Matt Lauer Scandal: Did NBC  Cover It Up?

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What was the Matt Lauer scandal? How long have NBC known and have they deliberately covered it up?

The Matt Lauer scandal broke when Brooke Nevils told investigative reporter Ronan Farrow about Lauer’s ongoing sexual abuse. As it turned out, dozens of other women had been reporting Lauer’s behavior to higher-ups at NBC for years, but nothing came of it.

Read more about Matt Lauer scandal and how NBC News covered it up.

The Matt Lauer Scandal Comes Full Circle at NBC

In late November 2017, Matt Lauer was promptly and unceremoniously fired from NBC. As one of the co-hosts of Today and a major public face of the network, the move was a shock. Why were they giving one of their biggest stars the axe? 

The network admitted that an unnamed employee at NBC had accused Lauer of sexual misconduct. But beyond this admission, the network was furiously spinning its wheels to sanitize the story. According to the party line that NBC began pushing in press releases and public statements, Lauer’s dismissal was about behavior on his part that violated NBC’s terms of employment. Yet they were vague on the specifics of what Lauer had been accused of. The truth about Lauer’s predatory history soon came out, as well as NBC’s complicity in covering it up.

Lauer had, in fact, cultivated a sexually demeaning and predatory environment at Today for years. Former female employees came forward with sexually aggressive emails Lauer had sent them, in which he advised them how to dress and told them how sexy they looked in certain outfits. Outtake videos emerged of him telling production assistants (and even his co-host, Meredith Vieira) to “bend over” so he could get a closer view. But this was hardly the worst of Lauer’s misconduct.

A woman named Brooke Nevils came forward to Farrow with her Lauer story. In 2014, Nevils had been working for Meredith Vieira, helping NBC cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She, Lauer, and Vieira got drunk on vodka one evening at the Olympic Village. After Vieira retired to her room, Lauer unexpectedly summoned Nevils to his hotel room, on a loose professional pretext. Once Nevils arrived, Lauer aggressively kissed her, pushed her onto her stomach, and violently anally raped her. Afterwards, he warned Nevils not to say anything to Vieira. Lauer’s abuse of Nevils went on for months afterwards, during which he repeatedly propositioned her for and forced her into sex at NBC’s offices. 

As the story came out, it was revealed that Nevils and dozens of other women had been reporting Lauer’s behavior to higher-ups at NBC for years. The network’s response was remarkably similar to that of the Weinstein Company: denials, threats, professional sabotage, and finally, the signing of non-disclosure agreements. Under the leadership of Oppenheim and Lack, NBC had presided over a toxic culture of abuse and cover-up. Women who came forward with accusations about Lauer were told to either keep quiet or face career sabotage. 

The Matt Lauer Scandal: Did NBC Cover It Up?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Ronan Farrow's "Catch and Kill" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Catch and Kill summary:

  • How Ronan Farrow uncovered rampant sexual abuse and assault by Harvey Weinstein
  • How NBC tried to intimidate Farrow into killing the Weinstein story
  • How the media and legal systems let Weinstein's abuse continue for decades

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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