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Addie Collins Zinone, a former production assistant who worked on NBC's "Today," told Megyn Kelly on Monday that she's experienced online harassment as a result of coming out with her Matt Lauer affair story.
What's the background?
Zinone, in an article published Thursday by Variety, admitted to having an affair with Lauer in 2000 when she was 24 years old.
Zinone indicated that she never intended for her professional relationship with Lauer to turn personal, but it did, and she said she felt isolated as a result.
"The situation really took its toll on me," Zinone said. "I changed physically. I changed emotionally. Fear crept into my life. I became unsure of myself. Any confidence I had was gone. For him, it was a conquest."
Zinone left "Today" that same year and to take a job as an anchor for a local news station in West Virginia.
She added that her one-month affair with Lauer held her "hostage."
"I was under his spell," Zinone admitted. "It was all-consuming. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t concentrate. Every time I turned on the TV, because I anchored the local news in the morning, there was his face. And he was acting all jolly and happy. And here am I, carrying the weight of what had happened and fending off the national press. I didn’t want to start my career being known one of Matt Lauer’s girls."
Zinone noted that she blamed Lauer, and indicated that he took advantage of her and her lowly position at the show.
"Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic," she explained. "He knew that I was leaving, and that there was no better prey than somebody who is going to be gone."
Lauer was fired by NBC on Nov. 28 after another woman accused the former "Today" anchor of sexual misconduct.
What did she say on 'Megyn Kelly Today?'
Zinone told Kelly that while she takes full responsibility for her role in the relationship — which she called a "massive mistake" — it's taken a toll on her over the years.
She added that since coming out with the story, she's been called a "whore," a "home wrecker" and more across social media platforms.
"I understand that people are going to paint me as a home wrecker, as a slut, and a whore and those are things I have been called," Zinone admitted. "It was suggested yesterday to me that 'Please please go get hit by a bus.'"
"My family is shattered by this. They are afraid for me," Zinone admitted. "This all trickles down to a lot of people that are affected, so having these conversations is really important, but also there’s a lot of shame attached to what I did."
Zinone told Kelly that she plans to use her experience as a benefit to women.
"I want to guide the conversation away from that, own my part in it, but then also talk about this power dynamic in a workplace and how that balance really does affect your thinking, your ability to think logically, to be aware of what you’re doing and the impact it’s going to have the rest of your life," she explained.
Zinone added that she wants to help young women to "make better decisions" and to avoid making the mistake that she did.
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