Katie Couric is now ready to speak out about the firing of her former colleague Matt Lauer, who was terminated from NBC News and the Today show in November due to sexual harassment allegations.
A little more than a week after his termination in November, Couric, who co-hosted the morning program with Lauer for 15 years until she left in 2006, had posted on Instagram, "It's incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I'm ready to."
"The whole thing has been very painful for me," Couric told People in comments posted on Saturday, which marked her first detailed remarks about the controversy. "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.
NBC News fired Lauer, the veteran Today show host, after the network received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior,". Lauer, who had co-anchored Today for 20 years and was earning a reported $20 million a year, apologized saying, "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry." He also said that "some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."
Soon after his firing was announced, more sexual misconduct allegations were made against him. Lauer has not commented on any specific accusations.
"I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left," Couric told People. "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.
Amid the controversy, news outlets dug out a 2012 clip of Couric on Andy Cohen's show Watch What Happens Live, in which she was asked what was Lauer's "most annoying habit." She responded, "He pinches me on the ass a lot."
Couric told People, "I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation."