Sources close to NBC’s Today Show say that Matt Lauer wants a $30 million payout for the remainder of his contract. He says that under New York contract law, NBC owes him the money. The request comes less than a week after Today Show brass fired Lauer for inappropriate conduct at work. Lauer was the highest paid personality ahead of Megyn Kelly. Lauer was spotted a few days after the firing meeting with his attorney and exchanging paperwork. New York police say that despite the complaints, there are no criminal investigations involving Lauer.
Lauer’s firing ended his twenty-year run on the hit morning show. He interviewed U.S. Presidents, foreign leaders of state and other newsmakers. He traveled the world and led broadcasting for the Olympics.
It may have been Lauer’s Olympic broadcasting that was his undoing. A victim came forward to say that Lauer summoned her to his hotel room late at night while they were in Sochi to broadcast from the Olympic Winter Games. The victim says that the behavior continued after they returned to New York. NBC officials agreed that Lauer abused his position of power in order to engage in a relationship with the woman. NBC officials also said that the behavior may not have been an isolated incident.
Officials wonder what’s next for the network. The Today Show has been in a long race with ABC’s Good Morning America for top morning show ratings. While the Today Show has largely stayed on top, management ousted Ann Curry shortly after bringing her in as a host, arguably at Lauer’s request.
Lauer’s departure has brought increased attention to his on-air behavior over his tenure at the Today Show. Critics point to an interview of Anne Hathaway where Lauer made a reference to an incident where a photographer took a photo up Hathaway’s skirt. There’s also a video circulating of Lauer commenting to a coworker that he enjoyed looking down her sweater.
Insiders say that NBC officials knew about Lauer’s behavior long before his sudden firing. Although officials denied knowing about Lauer’s conduct before a victim came forward the day before his firing, sources say that Lauer’s behavior was well known among Today Show employees. They claim that officials didn’t want to address the allegations because the Today Show is a cash cow for advertising revenue. Some wonder if Lauer’s firing doesn’t have more to do with third-party media sources that were about to break the story about Lauer’s behavior.