Early Wednesday morning, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced on the Today show that longtime host Matt Lauer had been fired by NBC for alleged "inappropriate sexual behavior" and the news caught viewers completely off guard.
The reveal led people to question everything from "what did Matt Lauer do?" and "who is the accuser?" to "is Matt Lauer married?" Below, learn more about Lauer's background and career history here.
1. Just Who Is Matt Lauer?
Lauer was a high-profile NBC journalist who fronted the Today show for two decades. The New York Times reports that he had the longest tenure for the show with 21 years after he replaced Bryant Gumbel as co-anchor in early 1997.
Lauer anchored local NBC news shows before becoming a Today news reader and eventually an anchor. During his career, he covered the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, did (occasionally controversial, see below) celebrity interviews, and moderated a presidential forum during the 2016 election race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Lauer had previously signed a $20 million contract with NBC in 2016, according to Fortune.
2. Why did NBC fire Matt Lauer?
NBC News announced Lauer's firing on the Today show Wednesday morning and explained the decision briefly. Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb told viewers that they did not know the details, but read the memo they had received.
In the memo to NBC staff, NBC News president Andrew Lack addressed the firing.
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” the memo said."It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
The note did not clarify what "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace" means specifically, though sources have spoken out about particular allegations (see below) related to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which Lauer covered.
3. Is Matt Lauer married?
Yes, Lauer has been married to Annette Roque, a Dutch model he met on a blind date, since 1998. They have three children together, Jack, 16, Romy, 14, and Thijs, 11. A source told People that Lauer's mind is on family right now.
“His family is his focus at the moment,” they said.
Newsweek reports that back in 2006, Roque accused Lauer of "cruel and inhumane" acts and filed for divorce, though the paperwork was eventually withdrawn three weeks after they were filed, and Lauer and Roque remained married.
Lauer himself has addressed his marriage in the public eye before after rumors of cheating emerged.
“Have we had a completely perfect, easy marriage? No. But the stories you’ve read over the years are not true,” he said. “I don’t think we’re any different than any married couple that’s been together for 12 years. The accusations [of infidelity] are ridiculous and I’m not going to [dignify] them with an answer. It’s not true.”
4. Is Matt Lauer divorced?
Yes, Lauer was married once before wedding Roque. He and his first wife, Emmy-winning TV producer Nancy Alspaugh, divorced in 1988 after seven years of marriage, according to the International Business Times.
Before he married Roque, he reportedly was engaged to Kristen Gesswein; however, they split in 1996.
5. What did Matt Lauer do to get fired?
While NBC News has yet to confirm specifics of his firing, sources are coming forward with more details.
A source revealed to People that Lauer was fired after alleged inappropriate sexual behavior throughout the 2014 year, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
An NBC staffer filed a complaint Monday “that was serious enough that he was terminated,” the source said. “The accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace occurring throughout 2014."
6. Who will replace Matt Lauer?
There is no word yet on who will replace Lauer, but Entertainment Weekly has rounded up eight options of people who could fill the Today show co-anchor position.
Among their picks: Willie Geist, Ann Curry, Thomas Roberts, Megyn Kelly, Craig Melvin, Tamron Hall, Anderson Cooper, and Carson Daly.