(Reuters) – NBC News fired popular “Today” show host Matt Lauer after receiving what it called a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, the network said on Wednesday.
NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said that, after serious review, the complaint received on Monday night represented “a clear violation” of the company’s standards.
“As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Lack said in a statement. “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.”
Lauer’s agent Ken Lindner did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the accusation against Lauer.
The news was announced by “Today” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb at the start of the talk show, a staple of U.S. morning television for more than six decades that, NBC says, averages more than 4 million viewers.
“This is a sad morning at ‘Today’ and at NBC News,” Guthrie said, visibly shaken. “We just learned this moments ago just this morning. As I’m sure you can imagine we are devastated.”
Lack’s statement did not say who made the accusation.
“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” Lack’s statement said. “But we will face it together as a news organization – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
During Wednesday’s show, NBC News reporter Stephanie Gosk said the colleague had accused Lauer of serious misconduct “throughout 2014.” An NBC representative did not respond to a request for more details.
Fellow NBC News anchor Willie Geist, who hosts the “Today” show’s Sunday program, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he was stunned, especially given Lauer’s role.
“Matt Lauer is the most powerful person at NBC News, arguably,” Geist said, referring to Lauer as a friend and mentor who he said had always led by example on the show’s set.
Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable television company, owns NBCUniversal. Shares of Comcast rose 1.6 percent to $36.84 in early trade on Nasdaq.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded with messages on Twitter calling for some of Lauer’s colleagues to also be fired.