MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough told his audience Thursday that “the most powerful people in media” knew for years that Matt Lauer leveraged clout at NBC during workplace sexual pursuits.
A panel of “Morning Joe” guests tackled the termination of one of NBC’s biggest stars this week in the wake of sexual misconduct scandals that brought down CBS’ Charlie Rose and NPR Chief News editor David Sweeney. Co-host Mika Brzezinski sparred with Mr. Scarborough over how much insiders knew of Mr. Lauer’s sexual proclivities at the “Today” show, but both agreed that “Matt was a philanderer.”
“The most powerful people in media, and everybody that came up [to me at Friars Club event] were making fun of Matt Lauer, not pushing himself on people, but the whole thing was, he does his show and then he has sex with people, with employees,” Mr. Scarborough said, the Washington Examiner reported. “So was this whispered behind closed doors? No, it was shouted from the mountaintops and everybody laughed about it.”
“This seemed like something everybody really thought they knew,” Ms. Brzezinski, who is engaged to her co-host, said.
“You’ve got to be careful when you say that we knew about this stuff,” Mr. Scarborough said. “There is a difference between philandering and being a predator. The stories we all heard was that Matt was a philanderer. I never heard a story that he was a predator.”
Mr. Lauer issued a statement of apology Thursday morning in response to the sexual misconduct accusations that prompted his firing, although he added that some were “untrue or mischaracterized.”
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort,” the former “Today” host said. “It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker issued a statement Thursday denying any knowledge of Mr. Lauer’s behavior while he was in charge at NBC.
“I’ve known Matt for 25 years and didn’t know this Matt,” Mr. Zucker said during Business Insider’s Ignition conference, Deadline Hollywood reported.