(AP) – Katie Couric, who was Matt Lauer’s “Today” co-host for several years, broke her silence Saturday on sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Couric told People magazine: “I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left.”
She departed NBC in 2006 to anchor the “CBS Evening News” and has been criticized for her silence in the more than a month since Lauer was fired. NBC News conducted an investigation of a Lauer colleague’s detailed complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior.” Other women have come forward with accusations against him.
“I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew,” Couric told People. “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. I really admire the way Savannah (Guthrie) and Hoda (Kotb) and the entire ‘Today’ show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”
Couric was referring to a remark she made in 2012 on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” that Lauer “pinches me on the ass a lot.” The clip received wide attention online after Lauer’s firing in late November.
Couric’s only other public statement on Lauer was one she made on Instagram last month in response to a user who chided her for not speaking out: “It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to. Thanks for your interest.”
Lauer has since apologized in a statement.
Couric is working on a six-part documentary series for the National Geographic channel called “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric” and said one episode will focus on harassment women have faced in the workplace.
“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Couric told People of Lauer’s behavior. “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.”