Former “Today” co-host Ann Curry said in an interview Wednesday that there was “a climate of verbal sexual harassment” on the program during her tenure there, adding that “I am not surprised by the allegations” against her former on-air partner, Matt Lauer, who was fired by NBC late last year over charges of sexual harassment.
At the outset of a lengthy interview on “CBS This Morning” — her first since leaving “Today” as co-anchor in 2012 — she was asked by co-host Norah O’Donnell if she believed Lauer had “abused his power” on the program. Curry said, “I’m trying to do no harm in these conversations [but] I can tell you I am not surprised by the allegations.”
Pressed further on whether she “knew things,” Curry said, “I know what it’s like to be publicly humiliated. I never did anything wrong to be publicly humiliated, and I don’t want to cause that kind of pain to anybody else, but I can say — because you’re asking me a very direct question — that I would be surprised if many women did not understand that there was a claim of verbal harassment that existed,” then adding that it was “verbal sexual” harassment.
Lauer was fired by NBC on Nov. 29 following a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior,” according to a memo distributed to the staff that morning, which added, “We were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
NBC later confirmed the misconduct had started when Lauer and a network employee were stationed at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued beyond that assignment.
Curry left “Today” in late June 2012, just two years shy of her 20th anniversary on the program. She had been named co-anchor just the year before. In a tearful farewell address marked by a broken voice and coolness to Lauer, sitting by her side, she said “I will still be a part of the “Today” show family, but I’m going to have a new title and a new role.”
Curry in fact later left NBC to launch her own production company. Last summer PBS announced that it had picked up her six-part series, “We’ll Meet Again,” which it said would “reveal the powerful bonds forged among people who now, against the odds, have the opportunity to reunite with those who transformed their lives.” The series launches Jan. 23.
During Wednesday’s interview, O’Donnell — whose former on-air partner Charlie Rose was also fired by CBS last fall following reports of sexual impropriety — asked Curry about the “reckoning” that has felled dozens of careers over the last few months.
“We clearly are waking up to a reality, an injustice that has been occurring for some time,” said Curry. “And I think it will continue to occur until the glass ceiling is finally broken. This is about power, a power imbalance where women are not valued as much as men. I’m not talking about people being attracted to other people. I’m talking about people in the workplace who are powerful, who are abusing that power — and women and men are suffering. And I think the fact that people are speaking out is important and the fact that we are moving against this imbalance of power is absolutely overdue.”