Journalist Ronan Farrow says there's a paper trail of secret settlements from NBC to Matt Lauer's accusers spanning years, despite the network's insistence of ignorance.
What's a quick background?
NBC previously insisted that the network was unaware of any accusations of sexual misconduct prior to the 2017 allegations from a former NBC producer who accused Lauer of rape. Lauer subsequently lost his job after the woman — who later publicly identified herself as Brooke Nevils — lodged her complaints against the former "Today" host.
Nevils told her story in Farrow's new book, "Catch and Kill," which prompted NBC to issue an internal memo stating that the company had no knowledge of accusations prior Nevils'.
"First, and most importantly, in reading today's news our hearts go out to our former colleague. Matt Lauer's conduct in 2014 was appalling and reprehensible — and of course we said so at the time," Andy Lack, NBC chairman, wrote.
"The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours," the memo continued. "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."
You can read background on the story here.
What are the details?
On Friday, Farrow, whose book is set for an Oct. 15 release, said that several Lauer accusers signed settlements with NBC "years before" Nevils reported him as her alleged rapist.
During an appearance on "Good Morning America," Farrow said that payoffs took place several times inside the network.
"There were seven nondisclosure agreements, multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers," Farrow told George Stephanopoulos. "This is years before this incident with Brooke Nevils."
When presented with a copy of Lack's internal memo saying otherwise, Farrow stuck to his story.
"This is not what the reporting in the book suggests," he responded. "We spent several years reporting this out, extensively fact-checking it. What we show in this book — with a paper trial, with documents — is that there were multiple secret settlements and nondislosures being struck with women at NBC News."
NBC says 'no way'
A spokesperson for the network issued a statement Friday on the matter.
"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," the statement insisted. "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 statement continued:
NBCU's legal team has done 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. 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.