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Matt Lauer Fired From NBC News After Sexual Misconduct Complaint

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Matt Lauer was fired from NBC News on Wednesday after an employee filed a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network announced.

Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of the “Today” show. “We are devastated,” she said.

The “Today” show is one of the most popular and most profitable franchises on American television. Lauer was the cornerstone of the program for two decades.

So his sudden ouster came as a shock to viewers — but not as a complete surprise to his “Today” show colleagues. They knew that multiple news outlets were investigating Lauer’s off-camera conduct.

One of those outlets, The New York Times, was in touch with an accuser who then met with NBC lawyers and human resources officials on Monday evening.

The meeting “lasted several hours,” the accuser’s attorney told The Times.

An investigation ensued on Tuesday. A decision was made to terminate his employment on Tuesday evening — a swift turnaround time.

NBC News chairman Andrew Lack, a close friend of Lauer’s, called and talked with him, according to a source with knowledge of the process.

Lack told staffers on Wednesday morning that Lauer was accepting of the decision and expressed remorse, the source said.

The details of the woman’s complaint have not been made public. But Lack said in a memo to staff that “it represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards.”

The source said the woman alleged that the inappropriate behavior occurred while Lauer was in Russia covering the Winter Olympics in 2014.

An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment.

Lack’s memo said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his career at the network. But it also said “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

Indeed, Lack and other NBC News executives have known for weeks that The Times and Variety magazine were working on investigations into Lauer’s behavior.

Variety’s New York bureau chief Ramin Setoodeh said on Twitter that he and his colleague Elizabeth Wagmeister have been doing reporting “about serious sexual harassment allegations against Lauer” for two months.

“NBC was aware” of the reporting, Wagmeister tweeted. “There are multiple women we’ve spoken to with far-ranging accusations against Lauer. The power of journalism has never been more evident with this cultural change.”

A spokeswoman for Lauer said he has no comment at this time. Lauer may release a statement later on Wednesday.

Lauer’s colleagues were visibly shaken up about the news on Wednesday’s “Today” show. Guthrie, his co-host for the past five years, was told overnight about his termination.

“We were both woken up with the news kind of predawn,” Guthrie’s co-host Hoda Kotb said.“And we’re trying to process it and make sense of it. And it will take some time for that.”