Matt Lauer will not get his $30 million payout from NBC News, network bosses have ruled, even though his lawyers argue he still has over a year left on his contract.
The disgraced anchor will not be paid a day past the last one he worked, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim ruled on Friday during a tense meeting with “NBC Nightly News” staff.
Page Six had revealed that lawyers for Lauer had been studying his contract to see if he could demand the remainder of his $20 million a year deal through 2018 — which would have amounted to around $30 million.
But Oppenheim told staff that Lauer would not be paid a penny more because he was terminated “for cause” — or, more explicitly, his own sexual bad behavior. Lauer was fired Tuesday night for “improper sexual conduct in the workplace” with a much younger female staffer, and the revelation has been met with a stream of further allegations against the onetime prince of the Peacock Network.
Page Six first revealed that the original complaint against Lauer centered on a former intern he approached while covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi for NBC.
Since then, numerous other allegations have been made against Lauer, including that he once had sex with a woman in his 30 Rock office until she passed out, that he allegedly gave a female colleague a sex toy as a present and that he had a secret button under his desk to lock his office door.
Sources also told Page Six there is increasing anger amongst the staff at NBC News at Lauer’s longtime behavior, which appears to have been swept under the carpet by NBC News bigwigs for years to protect their biggest and most bankable star, while he preyed on his female subordinates.
One source at the meeting told us, “There is a lot of anger among the NBC News staff. Noah tried to calm the situation and failed. He came to the ‘Nightly News’ meeting Friday afternoon and had a lot of nothing to say. People in the building are furious how the Lauer scandal was handled and, while before everyone was afraid of Matt, finally they are not afraid of speaking up about it.
“Noah told the group there would be no negotiations for a payout to Matt. He said he had no knowledge of these events (the allegations against Lauer) or any other ones like them. Noah did admit he knew of rumors of infidelity, but Matt had always strongly denied them.”
Oppenheim also revealed that Lauer had continued to lie about his sexual impropriety up until the very moment he realized he was caught red handed. Page Six exclusively revealed Lauer was caught out by sexts – racy texts and photos he sent to the woman who first complained to NBC human resources on Monday.
According to a witness, Oppenheim told the “Nightly News” group that NBC News chairman Andy Lack – who up to this point had been a close friend and golfing buddy of Lauer – had confronted Lauer on Monday before meeting with the complainant. Oppenheim said, “Andy asked Matt point blank, ‘Is there any truth to this?’ And Matt said, ‘No.’ ”
But a Page Six source said Lauer did later own up when confronted with the full damning account from his victim, plus the full sexting evidence.
NBC News insiders say they believe NBC News boss Lack is trying to blame his second in command Oppenheim, along with previous execs at the news network. “It’s like they’re turning on each other, when it was Matt who destroyed a lot of people.”
However, other NBC sources insist that Lack and Oppenheim insist they are on the same page and remain “totally united in their anger against Matt.”
Plus, there are more internal concerns about the future of “Today” after Lauer relentlessly dispatched any rivals to his top spot over the years — including Josh Elliott and Willie Geist.
The source told us, “The bigger picture is, how do you have $500 million franchise with no heir. There were always women lined up to replace women, but all the men disappear? You have no possible successor? Comcast allowed Matt to destroy anyone who came close to success there. Not one male successor.”
After bosses announced an internal review about sexual harassment at NBC News, Oppenheim also told NBC staffers during Friday’s meeting, according to a source,”There has been a lot of swirl and noise, surrounding a really good and important question. Which is, how the hell did this happen? How did this horrific behavior go on without it being brought to light and dealt with?
“And no one wants to know the answer to that more than I do. It would disgust and appall me if during the 2 ½ years that I have been here, that this had been going on and I wouldn’t have known about it. And I can tell you, on a personal level, that if there is anyone who works here, who still works here, who knew about this and didn’t report it, this is going to be dealt with in the most severe way possible. And that is why we are conducting this review.
“In terms of what I personally knew, I think I knew what anyone who has walked into a supermarket for the last 20 years knew, which is that there had been in the National Enquirer and other places, rumors that Matt had relationships with other celebrities, those people had denied it, as had he.”
He said of their confrontation with Lauer, “Andy and I and at least two other people that I know of, confronted Matt directly. And said, ‘Matt.’ We asked him multiple different ways, ‘Is there something you have done, is there any behavior that we need to know about, what could this be about?’ And he looked all those people in the eye and said nothing.”
In defense of the National Enquirer “and other places,” (as deliriously ignorant Oppenheim dismissively says), one top media insider summed it up, “It seems like every journalist inside NBC had no idea what Matt Lauer was up to, while every journalist outside NBC knew all about it.
“Those journalists outside NBC have been met with endless and increasingly aggressive denials over the years from NBC News and Matt himself when trying to report on it. It is undeniably a huge cover-up.”
NBC News reps didn’t comment.