Katie Couric, who spent 15 years co-hosting the “Today” show alongside Matt Lauer, claims she was completely “unaware” of the alleged sexual misconduct Lauer was accused of during his tenure at NBC.
Couric explained at The Wrap’s Power Women Breakfast event on Sunday night that she and Lauer had a “wonderful working relationship” so when the allegations against the disgraced star came out she was shocked.
“It’s shocking, honestly, and disturbing, disorienting, disheartening — all of those d-words,” Couric said. “But I think, he’s not the only one who behaves in this way. People all over the place … have participated in this kind of behavior, that have used their power in an exploitative and unacceptable way.”
As for how she could not have known about Lauer’s alleged behavior?
“I don’t think people paid much attention to it. In my case, it was something I was unaware of because if you talk to experts about this, people are very proficient at being secretive about certain behavior and making sure people don’t witness certain behaviors,” Couric explained.
She added, “Cultures have existed in the media, and in every arena, where behaviors were tolerated, people looked the other way, it was an accepted way of doing business.”
Lauer was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women at NBC. Lauer was removed from his $20 million a year gig after several women and colleagues claimed he exposed his penis, made lewd remarks and kept sex toys in his office.
Couric, 61, said a change must come “the top” in order to fix the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Culturally, it’s a huge problem: the tone that is set from the top,” she said before saying that she lucky enough not experience “this kind of treatment.”
“It’s hit very close to home with Matt Lauer and what happened there,” Couric said at the event. “It’s been an important experience for me because I never faced this kind of treatment. I was one of the lucky ones — I think I am harassable and I’m not harassable in that sense, and I think it is because I was in a position of power early in my career.”
Couric’s comments directly contradict Lauer’s other former “Today” co-host Ann Curry who said in January she would be surprised if anyone at NBC didn’t know about Lauer’s alleged behavior and that there was a culture of sexual harassment at the peacock network.
“I think it would be surprising if someone said they didn’t see that,” an uncomfortable Curry said on “The View” on Jan. 17. She added, “I would be surprised if many women did not understand that there was a climate of verbal harassment that existed.”
According to multiple reports, NBC News’ top executives, including previous NBC News chiefs Jeff Zucker and Steve Capus, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and Chairman Andy Lack, were aware of Lauer’s sexual misconduct and knew about multiple complaints against him.