Back in 2017, former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer was fired following sexual misconduct allegations from a show staffer. At the time, however, both the identity of his accuser and the nature of the allegations against him were not publicly revealed. Excerpts from the upcoming book Catch and Kill by journalist Ronan Farrow, however, reveals the identity of the staffer and sheds light on the allegations, claiming that Lauer was let go from NBC after she accused him of anally raping her in a hotel room.
In excerpts published by Variety on Tuesday, Farrow quotes the employee, whom he identifies as NBC producer Brooke Nevils, at length. Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while he was covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
According to Nevils, Lauer had invited her up to his room after drinking in the hotel bar. At the time, she “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience,” Farrow writes. When she arrived at his room, however, he forced her to have anal sex without using lubricant, despite her saying she was not interested multiple times. “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” Nevils says in the book, according to Farrow. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Nevils had sexual contact with Lauer on a number of other occasions following the incident in Sochi. While she says they were consensual, she was terrified at the time about the impact Lauer could potentially have on her career. “This is what I blame myself most for,’” she tells Farrow in the book. “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.” Three years later, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, many of Nevils’ NBC colleagues, including Today Show cohost Meredith Viera, asked her about her relationship with Lauer. Nevils confided in Viera about the incident in Sochi, and Viera encouraged Nevils to inform NBC’s human resources department and get a lawyer. An investigation into Lauer’s conduct was conducted shortly thereafter, resulting in his termination.
At the time that Lauer was let go, the party line in the media was that NBC News acted swiftly in terminating Lauer after his accuser came forward. In a statement issued in 2017, Nevils’ attorney Ari Wilkenfeld said he was satisfied with NBC News’ investigation into the allegations: “Over the course of several hours, my client detailed egregious acts of sexual harassment and misconduct by Mr. Lauer,” he said at the time. “In fewer than than 35 hours, NBC investigated and removed Mr. Lauer. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly and responsibly, as all companies should when confronted with credible allegations about sexual misconduct in the workplace.”
Yet Farrow’s book casts doubt on the claims that NBC News immediately aligned with Nevils against Lauer, acting swiftly in condemning the allegations against him. In Catch and Kill, Farrow writes that after Nevils came forward, her “work life became torture,” with her NBC colleagues forcing her to sit in meetings discussing the assault in which they would “cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her.” Nevils also told Farrow that she vomited when she learned that NBC News executives were emphasizing to the press that the incident with Lauer “hadn’t been ‘criminal’ or an ‘assault,'” and that she felt pressured to leave the network in 2018, at which point she was given a “seven figure” payout, Farrow writes.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for NBC News says: “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.” Lauer, who recently resurfaced on his 16-year-old daughter’s TikTok account in a series of goofy lipsync videos, also issued a statement in response to the allegations in Farrow’s book, claiming that his relationship with Nevils was consensual. “Nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say ‘enough,'” he writes, adding that the assault allegation in Farrow’s book is “categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.”