Bryant Gumbel Defends Matt Lauer After Sexual Misconduct Scandal: "He's a Good Man."
The former Today co-anchors remain close friends after Lauer's 2017 firing.
In the wake of the 2017 sexual misconduct scandal that led to his firing, Matt Lauer still has at least one person still firmly in his corner: his former Today show co-host Bryant Gumbel. Gumbel defended Lauer to Page Six at the Apollo Spring Benefit in New York City on Monday, June 12, saying that he speaks to his former colleague almost every day and calling him "a good man."
The two journalists have a lengthy personal and professional history, and it appears that the allegations brought to light six years ago hasn't changed their relationship. Read on to find out more about the colleagues and friends and to see what else Gumbel had to say about the disgraced Lauer.
Lauer was accused of sexual misconduct and assault in 2017.
In November 2017, Lauer was fired from NBC following an allegation of sexual harassment from a co-worker. More accusers soon came forward, including one woman who claimed that Lauer had raped her.
In a statement about the harassment claims, Lauer said, "Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."
In regards to the rape allegation made by former NBC co-worker Brooke Nevils, Lauer said that it was "categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense." He claimed that they had a "consensual" relationship that was an "extramarital affair." As reported by Variety, Nevils said that they had additional sexual encounters, but that they were "completely transaction" due to the power dynamic between herself and Lauer.
Gumbel and Lauer are still close.
Speaking to Page Six at the June 12 event, Gumbel said that he speaks to Lauer "almost" every day. "[He's] doing fine," Gumbel said. "He's doing great."
Asked if the fired Lauer misses working in TV, the 74-year-old answered, "I think he misses being in the mix sometimes but I don't think he misses being on television. He's got a lot on his plate right now. He's enjoying his kids, he's enjoying his life. [When] I talked to him last, he was heading out on his boat."
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Gumbel and Lauer share a long history.
Gumbel and Lauer began working together on Today in the early '90s, when Gumbel was the co-host of the show with Katie Couric. Lauer began as a fill-in host and then became a news anchor, alongside Gumbel and Couric. In 1997, he took Gumbel's spot as co-host and remained in the position until he was fired in 2017.
As noted by Page Six, Gumbel and Lauer's relationship extended beyond the studio, and they were the best men in each other's weddings. Gumbel stood up with Lauer when he wed his second wife, Annette Roque, in 1998, and Lauer did the same when Gumbel married his second wife, Hilary Quinlan, in 2002. (Roque and Lauer split amid the scandal.)
Gumbel also spoke up for Lauer right after the accusations came out.
A month after the Lauer scandal played out, Gumbel spoke positively about his friend in an interview with the New York Daily News.
"He's my best buddy," the longtime host of Real Sports said (via Syracuse.com). "I was the best man at his wedding. He was the best man at mine. I still love him!"
Couric's relationship with Lauer changed, however.
Couric, who co-hosted Today with Lauer from 1997 to 2006, has also spoken out about her former colleague. In her 2021 book, Going There, Couric shared the supportive text messages she sent Lauer when the accusations became public. But, she went on to explain that she had to come to a different conclusion about the man she thought she knew. "I've come to realize that Matt could be an excellent professional partner, and a good friend, and a predator," she wrote (via People).
While promoting her book, Couric appeared on Today and said that she and Lauer "have no relationship." As for including her initial support of Lauer in her book, she explained, "I think I used those because I thought they were very illustrative of how our relationship devolved and ultimately deteriorated."
If you have experienced sexual assault or abuse and are in need of crisis support, you can call
the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit online.rainn.org.