News, Culture & Society

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb say they are ‘disturbed to the core’ by new Matt Lauer rape claims

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb said they were ‘disturbed’ to the core by new allegations against Matt Lauer that he anally raped an NBC producer in 2014. 

The pair, who replaced Lauer as a duo when he was fired by by Today in 2017, said they stood with the alleged victim, Brooke Nevils, and commended her for coming forward. 

Nevils was who reported Lauer to NBC bosses in 2017 at the height of the #MeToo movement. It was her claim that he’d sexually assaulted her while they were in Sochi covering the 2014 Winter Olympics that got him fired. 

While the allegation was reported at the time, she was not identified and no other details other than that there was an alleged attack in a hotel room and that she was a producer for Meredith Vieira were known. 

Now, she has spoken out for Ronan Farrow’s new book – Catch and Kill. In it, she describes in graphic detail how Lauer ‘anally raped’ her after pushing her onto the bed in his hotel room despite her claiming that repeatedly that she did not want to have anal sex. 

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on Wednesday said the new allegations against Lauer were ‘disturbing’ 

Brooke Nevils

Matt Lauer says their entire relationship - and the Sochi incident - was consensual

Brooke Nevils made the allegations in Ronan Farrow’s new book.  Matt Lauer says their entire relationship – and the Sochi incident – was consensual

She claims she wept silently into a pillow as he forced himself on her. 

On Wednesday, Guthrie and Kotb had introduced another reporter to present Today’s segment on the new allegations when, afterwards, Guthrie said: ‘We owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment. This is shocking and appalling and, I honestly don’t even know what to say about it.’ 

There are not allegations of an affair. There are allegations of a crime.

She went on to commend Nevils, calling her ‘our colleague’, for coming forward then and now.

‘I want to say that we, I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it wasn’t easy now, and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims.

‘It’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult,’ she said. 

Kotb added: ‘I am looking at you and having a weird moment. We were sitting here like this two years ago and truth to be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs before just to sort out what we were going to do.

‘It’s like, you feel like you’ve known someone for 12 years, I don’t know if you guys have ever felt like that, you feel like you know them inside out and all of a sudden a door opens up it’s a part of them you didn’t know. We don’t know all the facts of this. 

Nevils agreed to be named as she told her story to Ronan Farrow (above) who has included it in his new book

Nevils agreed to be named as she told her story to Ronan Farrow (above) who has included it in his new book 

‘There are not allegations of an affair. There are allegations of a crime.’ 

She went on: ‘Our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did, to come forward, it’s not easy at all.’ 

Guthrie then finished off: ‘I think I speak for all of us. We are disturbed to our core and we have a commitment to keep you informed and we will continue to do that.’ 

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, an NBC spokesman told ‘Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. 

‘That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.’ 

Lauer has not yet commented on the claims. He in the past denied forcing himself o anyone and said any sexual encounters he had were consensual. 

Nevils was working as a producer for Meredith Vieira at the time and says she went to Lauer’s room after a night of drinking while the pair were part of a larger NBC team based in Sochi. 

It was the second time that night she had gone to his room. The first, she said, was to retrieve her media credentials which she says Lauer took ‘as a joke’ and the second was because he invited her back. 


Over the past two years people have asked why I have not spoken out to defend myself more vigorously against some of the false and salacious allegations leveled at me. It is a fair question and the answer is deeply personal. Despite my desire to set the record straight and confront the individuals making false allegations, I wanted nothing less than to create more headlines my kids would read and a new gathering of photographers at the end of our driveway. So I decided to just stay quiet and work on repairing my relationship with the people I love. It has been the most important full-time job I have ever had.

But my silence has been a mistake.

Today, nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say ‘enough.’

In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.

I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.

The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. The only concern she expressed was that someone might see her leaving my room. She embraced me at the door as she left.

This encounter, which she now falsely claims was an assault, was the beginning of our affair. It was the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months. After we returned to New York, we both communicated by text and by phone. We met for drinks, and she met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue our affair. Our meetings were arranged mutually. At no time, during or after her multiple visits to my apartment, did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there, or with our affair.

She also went out of her way to see me several times in my dressing room at work, and on one of those occasions we had a sexual encounter. It showed terrible judgment on my part, but it was completely mutual and consensual.

Brooke now says that she was terrified about the control I had over her career and felt pressure to agree to our encounters after Sochi. But at no time during our relationship did Brooke work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News. She worked for Meredith Vieira (who had not worked for the Today Show in several years) in a completely different part of the network, and I had no role in reviewing Brooke’s work.

I admit, I ended the affair poorly. I simply stopped communicating with her. Brooke continued to reach out. She admitted to NBC at the time she filed her complaint that she called me late at night while I was home with my family in an effort to rekindle the affair. But I attempted to go back to my life and pretend as if nothing had happened. I understand how that must have made her feel. However, being upset or having second thoughts does not give anyone the right to make false accusations years later about an affair in which they fully and willingly participated.

Between February 2014 and November 2017, Brooke and I saw each other more than a dozen times at professional gatherings, both large and small. Despite the fact that our affair was over, she always went out of her way to greet me warmly and engage in conversation. It was not until I was called in to speak to an NBC attorney on November 28, 2017 that I first learned Brooke had any complaint. I answered all questions openly and honestly for more than an hour. At that meeting I was never told that Brooke claimed our encounter in Sochi was non-consensual. Had I been, I would have defended myself immediately.

After Brooke filed her complaint in late 2017, her attorney publicly insisted she wanted to remain anonymous. He said she just wanted NBC to ‘do the right thing.’ But within a year she was reportedly out trying to sell a book. And it appears that she also sought a monetary payment from NBC. Now she is making outrageous and false accusations to help sell a different book and stepping into the spotlight to cause as much damage as she can.

But Brooke’s story is filled with contradictions. Which Brooke is to be believed?

• She claims our first encounter was an assault, yet she actively participated in arranging future meetings and met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue the affair.

• She says I was the one pursuing the relationship, yet once it was over, she was the one calling me asking to rekindle it.

• She says she felt pressure to continue the affair because I had control over her career, but she did not work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News.

• She said she wanted to remain anonymous, yet she was reportedly trying to sell a book within year after filing her complaint.

• She said she just wanted NBC to ‘do the right thing,’ yet she sought a monetary payment, and two years after I was fired, she is stepping forward to do more damage.

There are people who fully understand the actual dynamic that existed between Brooke and me. They have reluctantly and quietly reached out in the past two years and shared what they know. They have accurately described Brooke and her role in this affair. I hope those people will understand that these allegations cross a serious line, and what they can share is a vital truth, even if it may seem unpopular.

Because of my infidelity, I have brought more pain and embarrassment to my family than most people can ever begin to understand. They’ve been through hell. I have asked for their forgiveness, taken responsibility for what I did do wrong, and accepted the consequences. But by not speaking out I also emboldened those who continue to do me harm with false stories.

One such story I should have confronted a long time ago is an example of why I believe my silence was a mistake. Despite numerous erroneous reports in the past, there was not a button in my office that could lock the door from the inside. There was no such locking mechanism. It didn’t exist. NBC confirmed this fact publicly following my termination.

It would have been impossible to confine anyone in my office, for any purpose, and I have never attempted to make anyone feel as if they were confined in my office. I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person. I had no desire to write this, but I had no choice. The details I have written about here open deep wounds for my family. But they also lead to the truth. For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations. They have avoided having to look a boyfriend, husband, or a child in the eye and say, ‘I cheated.’ They have done enormous damage in the process. And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence.

She claims he was dressed in a t-shirt and boxers and, she said, pushed her against the door and kissed her when she got into the room. At the time, she was 30 and he was 56. 

He then, she claims, pushed her onto the bed, flipped her over and asked ‘if she liked anal sex.’ 

‘She said that she declined several times,’ Farrow wrote in the book, according to Variety which obtained a copy of it and published the new details on Wednesday. 

Farrow wrote that Nevils was ‘in the midst of telling him “no” when he “just did it”.  

‘Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. ‘

“It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?” She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow. Lauer then asked her if she liked it. 

Farrow's book 'Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to protect Predators' is scheduled for release on October 15

Farrow’s book ‘Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to protect Predators’ is scheduled for release on October 15

‘She tells him yes. She claims that “she bled for days,”‘ Farrow wrote. 

Nevils said she was both ‘too drunk’ to consent and that she said no ‘multiple times’, according to Farrow. 

‘It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent. It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex,’ Farrow said she told him. 

Once the pair got back to New York, they had more sexual encounters. 

Farrow says that sources ‘close to Lauer’ say she initiated those encounters.  

‘What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I’d spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her. 

“This is what I blame myself most for. It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship,”‘ she said.  

Nevils said she was ‘terrified’ about the control Lauer had over her career.  

But Nevils says her allegations were dismissed by staff who said Lauer had done nothing ‘criminal’. 

‘This was not a secret,’ Farrow writes, citing her claim that ‘like a million people knew’. 

It was only when the #MeToo movement against Harvey Weinstein erupted that Nevils was sincerely asked by Today colleagues about Lauer who had a reputation for infidelity and impropriety.

It was then she went to Meredith Vieira, who she had been working for at the time, and told her what had happened, she said. 

Farrow writes that Vieira told her to go to NBC HR with a lawyer and that she was ‘distraught’.

‘Nevils’s work life became torture. She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her,’ Farrow wrote. 

Farrow also claims that because Andrew Lack, NBC’s Chairman, wrote in an email to staff that Lauer had been fired over an alleged incident which occurred at the Sochi Games, it narrowed down the list of possibilities as to who his alleged victim might be. 

She had been promised anonymity, she said, but everyone soon figured out that she was the person who had reported him. 

Nevils said she then went on paid medical leave and eventually took a payout from NBC. 

Farrow says it was a seven-figure sum but that it came with a ‘script’ from executives who wanted her to paint the network glowingly. 

‘The network proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment,’ he wrote. 

Sources at NBC told Variety they were yet to read the book, but they plan to defend the company against any of Farrow’s criticisms. 

Lauer was fired from his $25million-per-year post on Today hours after the woman informed NBC executives of the affair. 

The book also contains more details of how Farrow was turned away by NBC – his then employer – when he started investigating Harvey Weinstein. 

The journalist’s expose against the disgraced media mogul was published by The New Yorker and helped, alongside a first piece in The New York Times, to bring down Weinstein.

Farrow says he first took the reporting to NBC but that it was vetoed by NBC President Noah Oppenheim. 

NBC has said in the past that Farrow’s reporting did not meet its editorial standards because he did not have enough women willing to on record to say that Weinstein assaulted them. 

In Catch and Kill, he claims Oppenheim asked him: ‘Like, is this really worth it?’ when he presented his findings on Weinstein. 

He also alleges that Oppenheim suggested no one would ‘know who Weinstein’ was. 

Farrow says he was then instructed to cease work on the story by Richard Greenberg, the head of the NBC News investigative unit. 

Farrow says Greenberg told him it was an order that had come from Lack and Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal.

In the past, the network has refuted Farrow’s claims that it killed the story, saying: ‘The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie.’  

At least four other women came forward in the wake of Lauer’s firing with their own allegations of sexual harassment. 

One woman told the Washington Post that the anchor exposed himself in his office and asked her to touch him. 

A second said she had sex with Lauer in his office in the middle of the work day and a third claimed that he gave her a sex toy.   

Former Today production assistant Addie Zinone alleged that she had a troubled, but consensual, relationship with Lauer in 2000.

Lauer refused to comment on any allegations of misconduct, claiming in April 2018 that he wanted to ‘protect’ his family from ’embarrassment’.

He and his wife Annette Roque separated in the wake of the allegations and finalized their divorce earlier this month.  

The couple had been together for over 20 years and share three children – son Jack, 18, daughter Romy, 15, and son Thijs, 12.

Lauer has hired a team of lawyers ahead of the October 15 release of ‘Catch and Kill’, Page Six reported, citing an informant who said the disgraced anchor and his team were given the opportunity to fact-check and comment on the book.  


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