For more than 20 years, people have invited Matt Lauer into their homes while they sipped their coffee in pajamas and got ready for work. He’s been a stoic figure during tough times in the world, but he has also shown a lighter side, dressing up as Dolly Parton on Halloween, goofing off with Al Roker, and cuddling puppies. So, despite the current post-Harvey Weinstein climate, the news on Wednesday of his firing over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior sent shockwaves.
While Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie got emotional delivering the news, the people affected the most by this — in addition to the person accusing him of sexual misconduct — are his family members. Lauer has been married to Annette Roque Lauer, a former model from the Netherlands, since 1998, and they have three children: Jack, Romy, and Thijs. It’s his second marriage — the first, to Emmy-winning TV producer Nancy Alspaugh, ended in 1988.
Roque, who has modeled for Victoria’s Secret and J.Crew, was photographed on the red carpet with Lauer as recently as August, when they attended Apollo in the Hamptons, where they own a $36.5 million estate that they purchased from Richard Gere in 2016. At the benefit, they posed with another high-profile Hamptons couple: Howard and Beth Stern.
Their public appearances together, however, are infrequent — maybe once a year. For as much as Lauer reports to us about other people, he’s kept his personal life fairly private. Maybe (or maybe not) that’s because his marriage made major headlines in 2006 when Roque, while pregnant with their third child, filed for divorce from Lauer, citing “cruel and inhumane” treatment. The court documents, obtained by the tabloid National Enquirer, stated that Lauer demonstrated hostility and anger toward her.
Obviously, they worked things out (rather quickly), but that tarnished his squeaky-clean façade. It also led to many more rumors about Lauer’s personal life — mostly that he was unfaithful. A few years later, in 2010, the Lauers found themselves denying a report that they split and Lauer had moved out of their home, which included gossip about his gallivanting with women at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. In an interview with People, he acknowledged past difficulties in the marriage, but he called reports that he cheated on his wife “ridiculous” and “offensive.”
“Have we had a completely perfect, easy marriage? No,” he told the magazine. “But the stories you’ve read over the years are not true. … I don’t think we’re any different than any married couple that’s been together for 12 years. The accusations [of infidelity] are ridiculous, and I’m not going to [dignify] them with an answer. It’s not true.”
Annette Roque Lauer, who was interviewed separately by the mag, said that while they had had past marital difficulties, “we have worked through it.”
In 2015, Matt Lauer said during a Facebook chat, “There are very few things I like more than standing at the top of a [ski] slope with Annette and the kids.” However, he also said that his work-home life was a difficult balance. “It’s a challenge for me just as it’s challenging for everyone else,” he shared. “There are times when the schedule of this job interferes with things I want to be a part of at home.” He also talked about how his kids visited him on the Today set, especially when an act they liked was performing during the summer concert series, but said that his fame “bothers” them. “I’m not famous at home,” he said. “I’m just Papa.”
While the rumors of his infidelity never really stopped after the almost divorce, they really kicked up again in 2016 when Natalie Morales left the Today show to take a job in Los Angeles. There was chatter that the two had had an “inappropriate relationship” and that she was shipped off after it ended. Both Morales and Lauer strongly denied the gossip, and she called it “absurd,” “hurtful,” and “extremely sexist.”
On Wednesday morning, CNN broke the news that Lauer had been let go. NBC News chairman Andrew Lack told staffers in a memo that the media organization had received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. (Unconfirmed reports say it took place during the 2014 Olympics.)
“It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards,” Lack wrote. “As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
The memo continued: “Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender. We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”
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