Matt Lauer: The Downfall of the Former Today Show Anchorman

The world is a hustling and bustling place these days. World events seem to be happening so often that people turn to the news to try and keep up. When people think of the most internationally well-known news programs, the Today Show can typically be found high up on the list.

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Plenty of the people that have been in front of the show’s camera are famous merely for appearing on the program, such as Ann Curry and Frank Blair. Though, there is one person who has a cloud hanging over him: Matt Lauer.

What Is the Full Story?

Matt Lauer and the Today Show used to be almost synonymous with each other. Since the events of 2017, however, that could not be further from the truth. This is because, during that year, Lauer was publicly accused of inappropriate conduct (and that’s putting it mildly).

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Lauer has since been let go from the beloved news broadcast. Since his departure, it’s been next to impossible to see him in front of a camera. But most people have only heard bits and pieces of what’s been going on, so what is the full story?

Terminated Contract With NBC

Lauer was living his best professional life while working for the Today Show. He was administering live interviews, bouncing off of the crowds, and showcasing his naturally balding head with a happy-go-lucky way about him. But everything he had worked so hard to build came crashing down on November 29, 2017.

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NBC issued an official statement confirming that they had fired the newsman from his position due to a statement submitted by a female coworker. Despite being the first complaint Lauer had ever gotten after working at NBC for more than twenty years, it couldn’t be overlooked.

Dropping the Ball by Dropping Out

Before delving into his behavior, let’s discuss how he dropped out of college. You’d expect a long and lavish career guided Lauer into the A list of newscasting, but you’d be incorrect. Lauer’s almost alma mater was just Scripps College of Communication, School of Media Arts and Studies.

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In 1979, he dropped out of school, anticipating that his future was awaiting him outside the classroom. Until 2017, he appeared to be correct. The decision exceeded all of his expectations. The funniest part is that while it’s a nice school, Scripps is a long way from the prestigious title.

Stepping Into the Public Eye

Matt Lauer jumped right into the TV industry. The same year he dropped out of school; he got a position as a producer at WOWK-TV. Learning the ins and outs of a brand-new industry is always tough, understanding what was required for a newscast – and he fell in love with the business.

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After taking such a risk in not completing his bachelor’s degree, it looked like he had made the right call. Lauer had found his place to excel, but he understood that he couldn’t stay behind the camera. This guy was meant for the desk.

TV Appearances All Over the Country

After a year at WOWK-TV, Lauer got his promotion. Given the opportunity to work in front of the camera as an on-air reporter, he was driven to prove he could succeed in the big leagues. His dedication and professionalism were on full display, and he was soon flying to appear on countless news stations all across the United States.

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That crazy amount of exposure pushed him to hone his craft. And it wasn’t wasted effort because it got him noticed by one of the known names in news: NBC (National Broadcasting Company).

A Real, Full-Time News Anchor

Lauer became a widely known name with the emergence of the early ’90s, and thanks to this buzz about the rookie anchor, he got the call to fill in as a news anchor for Margaret Larson on the Today Show.

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The substitute job served as his audition for the anchor job, which was offered to him in January 1994. With the new year came the new full-time anchor, Matt Lauer. He was delighted that all of his efforts had finally paid off in a considerable way. Though, he had no clue what was in store for him.

Interview Turned Screaming Match

Matt Lauer dealt with controversy before this scandal, like when he interviewed Tom Cruise in 2005. Lauer did not come to play as he grilled Cruise on an array of topics such as mental health, psychiatric medication, and his commitment to Scientology.

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Tensions rose very high, very quickly. Soon they were yelling and throwing insults at each other, like Cruise calling Lauer “glib.” Obviously, this interview drew lots of attention for all of the wrong reasons. Reflecting on this incident, there are those who say there were clear warning signs that should’ve warned us of Lauer’s true nature.

Heartfelt Interview With Royalty

Lauer isn’t constantly combative. He’s had his fair share of very genuine and emotional interviews, both in and out of the studio. One of the most famous of these interviews was in 2007 when royal princes William and Harry discussed their late mother, Princess Diana, with Lauer.

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It was the tenth anniversary of her passing, and the heartfelt interview essentially went viral. Talk about making it big – interviewing royalty! It proved Lauer was more than just a loose cannon, and those who tuned into the interview found themselves connecting to the stories about their mother that the brothers shared.

The Most Well-Known Newscaster

Lauer had become one of the most well-known newscasters in the world in about ten years. He was the one millions of people saw every morning when they tuned into the show, and he was the face who reported the biggest stories. His competence, style, and commitment had gotten him far.

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It came as no surprise when NBC offered to renew his contract from 2012 to 2017. The details of his contract weren’t entirely public, but it was believed that Lauer received twenty-five million dollars annually. A considerable amount for what was a big-time NBC reporter.

Disappointment on the Global Stage

Many were thrilled to learn that Lauer would continue at NBC. He was considered a star, but not everything can stay perfect. During the summer of 2012, Lauer went with co-hosts Meredith Vieria and Bob Costas to report on the London Olympic Games, and his performance was embarrassingly poor.

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While covering the games, Lauer didn’t impress anyone stateside with his commentary – but it was ten times worse than those in Europe. He was criticized as being unimaginative and even uneducated. Not the glowing reviews you’d hope to get about your star anchor.

The First Indication of Trouble

This wasn’t the sole time Lauer saw himself under a lot of scrutiny. In 2011, the Today Show co-anchor Ann Curry shared that she was leaving the show, a decision that shocked many viewers. Why would such a skilled and admired woman leave one of the top jobs in the industry?

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A role where millions of people watched her smile and listened to her every word every single morning? Over the next couple of years, though, a name would come to the forefront, one that indicated the beginning of the real issues for Lauer: Operation Bambi.

The Reason Ann Curry Left the Today Show

Once Curry left, theories have arisen that point the finger at NBC management, Lauer included. These allegations alleged that these powerful men worked together to create Operation Bambi to try and get Curry to leave. Apparently, they bullied her off-camera, embarrassed her on camera, and even packed all of her belongings into a box.

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The rumor claims that Lauer was part of this group and that he personally had a huge role in her eventual resignation, though additional details have yet to be shared publicly – and NBC hopes to keep it that way.

The Infamous Charlie Sheen Interview

Despite this scandal, Lauer kept his job at Today Show at NBC. He continued talking to some of the world’s most famous people, including one celebrity whose backslide came in 2011. The man who was all over the place: Charlie Sheen. This interview would earn Lauer additional attention.

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We watched Sheen plenty of times on our screens, but this interview came with surprising news that no one saw coming. In this rare interview, Sheen revealed that he had tested positive for HIV. The diagnosis was thought to offer some explanation for his behavior and worsening health.

Matt Meets Caitlyn Jenner

Within the same year he interviewed Sheen, he also sat down to talk with former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. The two delved into Caitlyn’s choice to come out as trans as well as her transition after being on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier in the year. The interview had several probing questions that covered all types of topics.

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It was a bit surprising that, amongst all the lighthearted questions Lauer asked, there was also a curveball in the form of an inquiry about a car crash Caitlyn was involved in, which resulted in the death of a 69-year-old woman.

The Untouchable Matt Lauer

This controversy was successfully pushed under the rug along with the others. NBC once again chose to move ahead with Lauer’s contract renewal as the face of NBC news. That November, it was again reported Lauer had a contract renewal to sign, one that would put him as the main anchor until at least 2018.

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If the rumors are believed to be true, then he was set to make twenty million dollars a year. Sadly for Lauer, it wasn’t too long before his glamorous life took a sharp, dark turn, and everything came tumbling down on him.

Grossly Inappropriate Conduct Sparks Viral Hashtag Movement

Before we continue, let’s give a little bit of context on something that is about to be relevant to Lauer’s story. In October 2017, famous movie producer Harvey Weinstein came under fire from wide-reaching and incredibly graphic sexual abuse allegations inspired by a tweet from Alyssa Milano.

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In 2006, activist Tarana Burke started the MeToo movement, but only after Milano’s 2017 tweet with the hashtag #MeToo did this movement see widespread, exponential growth and name recognition. Milano’s tweet encouraged others to post about their experiences via social media, and the hashtag had been used over 200,000 times that day.

A Movement With Massive Momentum

The movement was well on its way. Several incredibly famous women joined the movement, explaining powerful men had also sexually harassed them. Those first women to share their stories included Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman, and Jennifer Lawrence.

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Extensive media coverage began to pressure where most of these men in power resided: Hollywood. Millions of users began to use the hashtag (#MeToo) as resistance against those who tried to let these allegations fade away. Various high-profile firings started, there was massive backlash against these men, and people were criminally charged.

The Movement Grows and Evolves

The movement grew. #HimToo started, which not only showcased men who have been abused but also confronted one of the major criticisms of the #MeToo movement, which was the sudden prevalence of false accusations against innocent men. The abuses of men – genuine or imagined – no longer ignored and instead took over headlines.

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The consequences or changes brought on are still being evaluated and determined, but one thing is certain: sexual abuses will no longer be brushed under the rug. And now we return to our regularly scheduled Lauer story. Any speculations where this is headed?

She Filed a Complaint Against Lauer

A female employee at NBC filed a complaint against Lauer, referring to an event in 2014. Lauer, the female employee, and several others from NBC were reporting from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The woman – anonymously – alleged that Lauer behaved inappropriately with her while in Russia, and this conduct continued after returning to the states.

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It left the woman feeling restless and terrified, and in light of the #MeToo movement, she had enough and lodged a complaint to management. Given the current climate surrounding abuse, not even NBC could ignore this one.

Fight for the Full Story

It didn’t take long for the story to make it further than just NBC. No one truly knows how Variety and The New York Times picked up the story. Still, they had already started their own investigating – nothing more satisfying than getting a lot of dirt on a business rival.

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They wanted the full story, and there was nothing that would stop them. It was due to these investigations that we learned about Lauer, including the unbelievable detail Variety discovered that about ten other women had also lodged complaints against the reporter for similar conduct!

NBC Comes Clean About Other Allegations

The industry tilted when these reports became public. Thanks to Variety’s investigation, NBC had to comment. NBC announced that they were aware of only three other allegations and were forced to recognize that they had indeed gotten these formal complaints.

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The complaints confirmed the incidents detailed had happened between the years of 2000 and 2007, but the complaints were swept under the rug. The Today Show fans were shocked that this had been ignored, and it became obvious that Lauer himself would have to address these allegations, and luckily, he already had a platform to do so.

Issuing an On-Air Statement

As the allegations came to light, Lauer put himself on-air and shared a statement. His professionalism and conduct had come under fire, and he tried his best to address the allegations against him. He started off by saying that many of the allegations were “untrue or mischaracterized” but continued by saying that some aspects were truthful.

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He said that the occurrences that were true left him “ashamed and embarrassed” of his own behavior. But that wasn’t the end. There was more drama that would continue to shatter Lauer’s life after his publicized statement.

Less Than a Month Later

A mere two weeks after Lauer addressed the rumors; there was another allegation reported. A woman by the name of Addie Zinone filed another complaint against the news anchor, citing similar inappropriate behavior.

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Zinone was a former NBC production assistant that stated she had been in a consensual relationship with Lauer, but she felt that he took advantage of the power dynamic over her during that time. She included particulars in her report, like how she feared for her job if she turned down his advances. Though let’s not forget, Lauer was married during this time.

His Behavior Negative Affects His Home Life

Almost the whole time Lauer was on the Today Show, he had been in a committed relationship with Annette Roque – the two were married in 1998. They had three kids together, but as these allegations of severely inappropriate conduct piled up, Annette disclosed that Lauer had cheated multiple times during their marriage.

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All of these unfaithful episodes, as well as the rumors, allegations, and reports, tipped the scales too far for Roque. She filed for divorce in January of 2018 – yet another blow that Lauer took, but nowhere near the last.

A Crumbling Personal Life

Lauer’s personal life crumbled when Annette left him, but he lost more than a wife in the divorce. The three children we mentioned before still had necessary costs and expenses that needed to be covered. To provide for their children, Lauer agreed to pay Annette twenty million dollars.

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It might’ve only been one year’s salary for Lauer, but that amount is a massive amount of cash no matter the person. Page Six reported that this amount was agreed upon due to Lauer’s guilt about his infidelity and was willing to give her anything she wanted.

The Fall of a Marriage

Their marriage officially ended on September 7, 2019, after nearly two years of separation after the abuse allegations came to light. This was the second time Annette had filed for divorce; the first time was in 2006, during her pregnancy with their third child.

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On the divorce papers, Annette cited the reasons for divorce as “anxiety, extreme mental and emotional abuse, humiliation, mental abuse, and torment.” However, Lauer and Annette got back together a couple of weeks after filing. The second divorce, though, was finalized, and the two are officially split up.

First Wife Defends Him

It turns out Annette was Lauer’s second wife. His first wife was Nancy Alspaugh, who, surprisingly said that her ex-husband is entitled to a second chance. During an interview with ET, Alspaugh said that Lauer was always a “generous, kind, wonderful” person.

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“Matt has always been a support to his family and loved ones,” she continued. “He has done so much quietly to help others and to support important causes. Lauer happened to make an impressive donation to her autism charity, ACT Today.” It makes you wonder if that donation had anything to do with the nice words Nancy submitted.

Lauer’s Biggest Advocate Was His Ex-Wife?

The fact that Nancy even spoke up at all was quite the unexpected twist. But Lauer’s first wife went beyond complimenting his character. She also shared that she believes it won’t be long until Lauer has repaired his public image and will find a new girlfriend soon enough.

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From where we’re sitting, it seems like Nancy is Lauer’s biggest fan. At this point, we’re beginning to wonder why Lauer ever finalized his divorce with Nancy – we should all strive to find someone who supports you through the good and bad times.

Adjusting to His New Life

Even a year and a half after all of these allegations against Lauer became public, life still hadn’t settled down for this once-celebrated news anchor. A source spoke to People magazine and went into detail commenting on how tough this situation was on him, but likely because he has too much free time.

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We understand that it is going to be an adjustment, but seriously? Lauer currently spends most of his time at home. How has he been passing all of this ample time in his gorgeous home with his entire fortune?

A Book That Would Spill All the Secrets

There were whispers that a tell-all book was on the horizon, and it would expose as many small details as it is possible to reveal. It was rumored that the accuser worked for Today Show host Meredith Vieira, and there were length talks with publishers.

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It was up in the air if the accuser would share her identity, and before its release, it was rumored to be filled with shocking details. The book is now available to read, and the details were indeed X-rated, so if you have children near you, make sure they are preoccupied as you continue reading.

Opening Pandora’s Box of Secrets

Ronan Farrow, an American journalist, published the book “Catch and Kill” in 2019, which describes the challenges he faced following the stories of abusers such as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, amongst others – like Matt Lauer.

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The title of the book was inspired by a common strategy to make potentially damaging stories go away, where a media source purchases sole rights to “catch” the story, then pivoting to “kill” it without publishing it to benefit a third party, typically the person or people who are at risk of damage. Everything would be finalized without the initial whistle-blower’s knowledge.

A Couple of Explosive Chapters

Two chapters in “Catch and Kill” specifically cover the Lauer allegations. In an interview that uncovered his original accuser identity as Brooke Nevils, a former NBC News employee, Farrow got material for the most powerful segments of the whole book.

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In the interview, Nevils claimed that during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Lauer sodomized Nevils in his hotel room. Nevils had been drinking, and after arriving at Lauer’s room to grab her press credentials, Lauer invited her inside. “[I] had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.”

Continuing His Actions Without Obtaining Consent

According to Nevils, once they were inside Lauer’s hotel room for the second time, Lauer started the assault by shoving her against the door and kissing her. He then threw her onto the bed, and according to her allegation, forced himself on her.

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He continued her retelling of the events by writing that Nevils was just about to tell Lauer that she didn’t want to do anything with him again when he continued without her consent. Putting together her in-person interview and the written report proved a tough task for Farrow.

Drank Too Much to Truly Give Consent

Farrow continued Nevils’ recount of the incident by writing that she was obviously taken by surprise, and she wasn’t sure what to do. Eventually, she verbally said yes, but this was as she was crying uncontrollably into a pillow she found on the bed.

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Nevils strongly and confidently upholds her position that she was simply too drunk to have been able to give consent to what took place. And she was horrified that her ‘yes’ while sobbing was taken as a sign to continue what he was doing to her.

A Second Inappropriate Encounter

The second encounter of this nature that Nevils described in Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” furthers the repeated pattern of non-consensual behavior. Nevils was in Lauer’s office looking for an item, and as recounted by Nevils, Lauer came up behind her and grabbed hold of her hips.

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In addition to this unwanted touch, Lauer then forcibly pressured her into inappropriate acts. As this was happening and afterward, he would offer her favors and items in exchange for her role. This second encounter highlighted how he allegedly took advantage of the power dynamic between them.

Lauer Addresses These Particularly Awful Allegations

Since Nevil’s claims came to light, Lauer has been adamant about denying these severe and gut-wrenching allegations. In a publicized statement, he admitted to sleeping with her but that it was simply an illicit sexual relationship that had started when they were both in Sochi, Russia, in 2004. He maintained that it was completely consensual.

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Aside from this statement, Nevils had additional inappropriate interactions with Lauer when they were both in New York. Farrow reported that sources close to Lauer asserted that she sometimes started the contact between the two.

Transparent With Colleagues About What Happened to Her

Nevils shared in Farrow’s book that it was more of a transactional relationship between her and Lauer than an actual romantic one. Nevils said that she was frightened about the level of control and power Lauer held over her career and future in the industry.

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After these incidences with Lauer finished, Nevils said she told “like a million people” about what had happened between her and Lauer. Farrow reported that she didn’t try and keep it a secret as she had disclosed everything with coworkers and higher-ups at NBC, including her bosses, when she transferred to NBC’s Peacock Productions.

NBC Management Shows Their True Colors

When the shameful details of Harvey Weinstein’s interactions came to light, various friends encouraged Nevils to take her story to Meredith Vieira. Deeply troubled, Vieira then urged Nevils to report it to NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer. Lauer’s employment was terminated. But Nevils’s story didn’t end there.

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She found out that Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC, and Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, attempted to stress the point that the incident hadn’t been an assault or criminal at all. Nevils told Farrow that this news caused her to throw up and made her work-life torture.

The Workplace Becomes Toxic

Farrow wrote in his book about how difficult it became for Nevils to keep working at NBC. In spite of the fact that human resources had pledged to Nevils that she would remain anonymous, disclosing that the assault had taken place at Sochi greatly narrowed down the possibilities.

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There was a small group who went to Sochi, and it’s a company full of reporters, so it wasn’t going to stay anonymous for long. Soon enough, it was public knowledge. Nevils took a leave of absence, and despite not asking for money, collected a seven-figure payout in 2018.

Attempts at Covering-Up Investigations

The network suggested a script to Nevils, outlining exactly what to say and how to behave. It asked her to say that she had left NBC to follow other ventures, that she was treated with respect, and that NBC News was a positive example for handling sexual harassment claims.

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A positive example? We’re confused about what exactly that’s supposed to mean in this context. NBC attempted to sweep the story under the rug, according to Farrow. Oppenheim even suggested to Farrow that the investigation wasn’t worth it and claimed that no one knew who Weinstein is.

An Open Letter Undermining His Accuser

In an open letter that he shared with news outlets, Lauer addressed the nitty-gritty from his side of the story when it came to Nevil’s allegations. He wrote that Nevil visited his dressing room at the office and his apartment. He admitted to having poor judgment but maintained that it was entirely mutual.

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The letter was another chance for Lauer to own up to his actions but decided to go a different route. He used the remainder of his letter to point out inconsistencies in Nevils’s story, also writing that several people knew about their affair.

Her Response to His Open Letter

After Lauer’s open letter took to the internet, it wasn’t long before Nevil read it for herself. Her reaction was understandable, and her response to Lauer’s letter came quickly after it was released. She wrote that his letter was a classic “case study in victim-shaming.”

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The fact that his letter continuously put the blame on her while simultaneously not taking responsibility for his own actions was her reasoning behind claims of victim-shaming. Nevils additionally wrote that she isn’t afraid of him anymore, despite the shaming and threats she received from him and others.

Coping Through the Nightmarish Aftermath

Everything combined continued to take a toll on Nevils. She was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since lodging the complaint in November 2017. She also attempted suicide, began to drink heavily, but despite it all, she has managed to bring herself to a better place.

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She had extreme weight loss, losing fourteen lbs. in four weeks. During those four weeks, she had twenty-one visits to the doctor. Nevils is still working through the aftermath but doesn’t regret telling her story. In Farrow’s book, she talks about how she lost everything from her job to her goals as a result of coming forward.

Disputes Surrounding a New Zealand Ranch

Another strange issue arose for Lauer among the allegations, but it was about his sixteen-thousand-acre ranch, Hunter Valley Station, in New Zealand. Just a couple of years before the allegations started, Lauer bought the area for upwards of nine million dollars.

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New Zealand’s Walking Access Commission began pressuring Lauer to grant hikers access to walk through the ranch. During an interview with Radio New Zealand, Lauer said that he thought the organization was attempting to take advantage of him and that they saw him as an easy target. Just let them hike, Lauer.

Booking TV Appearances Despite the Allegations

When NBC fired Lauer, many of his fans wondered if they would ever see him return to television. In August of 2018, their questions were answered when – for some ironic reason – Lauer was talking to a group of women at New York’s Donahue Steak House.

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He claimed that they “shouldn’t worry about missing his face on their television screens,” which didn’t sound as inviting as he might’ve meant it to be. He went on to suggest that his return to TV was coming up soon. Though he didn’t give any additional details about the particulars of his impending return.

Not Returning to Television Anytime Soon

And that’s due to the fact that he eventually changed his mind. People said that this once celebrated reporter stopped chasing the limelight. Instead, Lauer is putting his efforts into being a good father to his kids over being a newscaster on the television.

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He’s said that he’s ready for what’s next. Lauer’s former coworker Megyn Kelly had a conversation with Us Weekly but refused to comment on the likelihood of, or her thoughts on, a Lauer comeback. But she did say on camera: “I know too much that others don’t know.”

Love Life is Going Strong

Well, one thing we are certain about is that Lauer’s love life has caught its third wind. He was recently seen in public with a new woman: Welsh PR executive Shamin Abas. The pair – plus Lauer’s nineteen-year-old son, Jack – took out a Ferrari F8 for a test drive. The car was worth nearly three hundred thousand dollars.

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Lauer and Abas had a consistent friendship for nearly a decade before Lauer’s divorce. A source close to Lauer claims that he had been “on the prowl” for a new beau, which is such an awful way to phrase that.

Dedicated to Complete a New Goal

Lauer’s new life consists of putting time into his new relationship, being a present father for his three teenage kids, and keeping a low profile in the Hamptons. He dreams of returning to the journalism world and already has a goal he’s working towards.

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A different source said that Lauer is someone who deeply cares about how the public views him, so he’s made it his mission to ruin Rowan’s career because he blames Rowan for making people think he’s a rapist. As a reminder, Rowan Farrow is the author of the tell-all book that included several allegations against Lauer.

Parameters of Presumption of Innocence

Recently, shortly after The New York Times brought into question Ronan Farrow’s investigations, Lauer published a lengthy column, nearly five thousand words long, that he shared online. The column accused Farrow of false allegations. He directly addressed Nevil’s story and even put the blame on his fellow journalists.

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“While the presumption of innocence is only guaranteed in a court of law, I felt journalists should have at the very least recognized and considered it.” At this point, the story is still ongoing and hasn’t had any legal actions taken. But it’s anyone’s best guess what we’ll learn about him next.