The author of a bombshell book making new sexual misconduct claims against television personality Matt Lauer said Friday morning that NBC had negotiated confidential settlements with a number of women, several of whom had complained about the former TODAY Show host, before his firing two years ago.
Former NBC staffer Brooke Nevils spoke to journalist Ronan Farrow for his book, “Catch and Kill,” which is slated to be released on Oct. 15 and details her account of Lauer raping her during the Winter Olympics in 2014, according to Variety. She reported the incident to NBC, and the network terminated Lauer in November 2017.
“What we show in this book -- with a paper trail, with documents -- is that there were multiple secret settlements and non-disclosures being struck with women at NBC News,” Farrow told “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos. “There were seven non-disclosure agreements; multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers.”
Farrow's claims are at odds with statements that Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, made at the time of Lauer's dismissal, and the network reiterated Friday that it had no prior knowledge of complaints against its former host.
"The first time we learned about Matt Lauer's sexual misconduct in the workplace was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours," a spokesperson said, echoing Lack's characterization that the 2017 allegation was the first against Lauer. "Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening, paid any 'hush money,' or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer's appalling behavior is absolutely false."
The company's legal team did "an exhaustive search of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff, and uncovered no claims or settlements relating to allegations of inappropriate conduct by Matt Lauer that pre-date his firing," the spokesperson added. "Only following his termination did we reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time, and those women have always been free to share their stories about Lauer with anyone they choose."
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
Farrow, however, told Stephanopoulos the non-disclosure agreements and settlements were confirmed by senior network staffers and were made “years before” the attack Nevils alleged.
“Over a period of six to seven years -- a period in which NBC had previously denied any settlements,” Farrow said, later adding: “I spoke to senior executives who were told about those earlier incidents.”
Lack, the chairman, had sent an NBC-wide memo disputing Farrow's claims even before the journalist's Friday interview.
"Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer's conduct is absolutely false and offensive,” Lack wrote, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
"They uncovered no claims or settlements associated with allegations of inappropriate conduct by Lauer before he was fired.”
Representatives for Nevils and Lauer did not immediately respond to requests for comment from FOX Business.