NBC News chief updates staff on Matt Lauer investigation

NEW YORK — Two days after NBC News fired Matt Lauer over sexual harassment allegations, chairman Andrew Lack sent an internal memo to staffers updating them on the investigation into Lauer’s conduct and the company’s response.

In the Friday memo, Lack said the network’s legal and human resources leaders were investigating Lauer’s “appalling behavior.” “At the conclusion of  the review we will share what we’ve learned, no matter how painful, and act on it,” Lack wrote.

Lack also encouraged staffers to speak up and “raise any concerns you have about inappropriate conduct you have experienced or observed.”

While NBC said it acted swiftly to fire Lauer as soon as executives learned of the first complaint, the company has come under fire from some former employees who claim the “Today” show host’s behavior was an open secret.

Lack’s memo continued, “We also want to reinforce with our managers and leaders their responsibility to bring forward concerns about inappropriate workplace behavior they see or hear about. It is always the right thing to do, and any concerns raised should be done without fear of retaliation, and with full assurance that they will be investigated.”

He added, “In addition to the meetings we’ve had this week with various show teams and departments, we are encouraging the leaders of every group to have smaller, more informal gatherings to further discuss this crucial issue now and on an ongoing basis.”

Lauer’s firing — for what NBC called “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague — was quickly followed by reports accusing him of crude and repeated misconduct with other women at the office. He has since apologized for the “damage and disappointment” he left behind at the network.

Hours after the announcement of Lauer’s firing, The New York Times reported that two more women came forward and told NBC News about alleged misconduct by Lauer. One of those women told The New York Times that in 2001, Lauer summoned her to his office and had sex with her. She told the paper that she felt helpless and didn’t report the incident to human resources because she felt ashamed.

Variety, which said it had been working on an investigative report about Lauer’s behavior for months, published accounts of three women who said he sexually harassed them. Several women claimed that they had complained to network executives about his behavior in the past.