The Transformation Of Matt Lauer

Trigger warning: The following article contains details of sexual assault, rape, and harassment in the workplace. 

The world of journalism may seem incredibly vast, given the number of websites, outlets, and talking heads who provide news content on a daily basis. But it's safe to say that hardly anyone had the power and influence over the industry (at one point, that is) that Matt Lauer did. For those who need a brief refresher, Lauer is the embattled former NBC host whose fall from grace in 2017 was shocking to many. It came at a time in our history when sexual predators and abusers were being taken down, it seemed, one right after the other.

Lauer had made a name for himself in the journalism industry as a beloved host of NBC's "Today," alongside the groundbreaking likes of Katie Couric and Savannah Guthrie. His charm and professionalism seemed to be the perfect combination — approachable, yet trustworthy — and he gained a slew of loyal viewers as a result. But when troubling allegations of workplace sexual abuse came to light, NBC was quick to kick Lauer to the curb, and his reputation has been tanked ever since. So, who is the controversial figurehead, what has his troubling journey looked like, and what is he doing now? This is the transformation of Matt Lauer.

Matt Lauer is a true New Yorker, born in the city in 1957

Picture this scenario: You go back to your mom's house for a long weekend and you're in the living room when she flips on the television. There, sitting perfectly center-screen is the then-beloved Matt Lauer, recounting the headlines of the day, all while adoring fans hold signs and wave to the cameras at 30 Rock. For an extensive period of time, it seemed that Lauer, NBC, and 30 Rock were synonymous beings — one certainly seemed as though it couldn't exist without the others — and we can imagine that symbiotic relationship brought Lauer a lot of joy and pride. After all, he is a true New Yorker. 

As noted by Celebrity Net Worth, Lauer was born to his parents, Marilyn and Jay, on December 30, 1957 in the great city of New York. His mom owned a boutique, and his dad worked as an executive for a bicycle company. While Lauer eventually ventured out of the Big Apple for college at Ohio University, it's safe to say that the city held a very special place in his life, given that his early life and the bulk of his career blossomed in the streets of New York.

The journalist climbed the ladder and dropped out of college to pursue his career

The sentiment that you need a college education to be successful is rampant, but that wasn't the case for Matt Lauer. As noted by Celebrity Net Worth, Lauer dropped out of Ohio University in 1979, just four credits shy of graduating, in order to work at WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia. He became the producer for the station's noon broadcast, and later became a reporter for their 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts. After earning his chops at the station, Lauer moved to Channel 10 in Rhode Island, where he stayed from 1981 until 1985 co-hosting the network's show "PM Magazine." 

Of his time in Rhode Island, Lauer told the Providence Journal that he "hated leaving" his gig with Channel 10, calling his time there "a couple of real good years." "People in Providence treated us like royalty. I was lovin' it. I hated leaving there," he said. While with Channel 10, Lauer worked with the likes of Doug White and Sheila Martines, the latter of which kept in touch after Lauer moved to NBC's "Today." Following his time with Channel 10, Lauer moved back to New York to pursue the next leg of his career.

Matt Lauer took a number of small hosting gigs in the late 1980s before joining the Today show

After leaving Channel 10, Matt Lauer came back to New York, but his hosting gigs didn't stick. As noted by Journal-News, Lauer's string of short-lived gigs started in 1986 with the WNYW show, "Made In New York," which only lasted for 15 weeks (via Celebrity Net Worth). The year 1988 brought Lauer the hosting gig of "Talk of the Town" for WNEW-TV in Boston, followed by a two-year stint as host of the three-hour live interview show "9 Broadcast Plaza" for WWOR-TV. 

In 1990, Lauer was the host of a pilot show called "Day In Court" before he went to work for the Travel Channel as the co-host of "Etc., Etc.," but the show didn't last for long. By 1992, Lauer was starting to make some moves that would stick. He became the co-anchor of "Today in New York" for WNBC-TV alongside Jane Hanson and worked as a "newsreader" on NBC's "Today" when needed. Between 1992 and 1997, Lauer co-hosted both "Weekend Today" and "NBC News at Sunrise" but really took significant career steps when he subbed in for Bryant Gumble, who was the host of "Today" at the time.

Matt Lauer got married for the first time in 1981

While his early career was blooming in the early 1980s, so was Matt Lauer's personal life. As noted by Entertainment Tonight, Lauer married Nancy Alspaugh in 1981, and the two stayed together until 1988. Although their relationship didn't pan out, Alspaugh shared that there was no bad blood between them and revealed that they've remained quite close despite their personal history. In fact, Lauer even made a point of supporting Alspaugh's autism charity, ACT Today, and has "donated a tremendous amount" of money over the years. 

"Our relationship is done, we had our time, and I know he loves me in a special way and I love him in a special way," Alspaugh said of her ex-husband. "While we didn't last, Matt's mother and sister are family to me. Our children are about the same age, and a couple of years ago, around the time I lost my husband, we all got together and our kids got to know each other. There have never been any ill feelings." All of that support makes it unsurprising that when Lauer was accused of sexual assault (more on that later), Alspaugh was in his corner supporting him.

The controversial figure was made a permanent NBC fixture in 1997

After a number of short-lived co-hosting gigs, a marriage and divorce under his belt, and experience working as both an anchor and reporter, Matt Lauer finally got his big break. As noted by The New York Times, Lauer replaced Bryant Gumbel as host of NBC's "Today" in 1997, after serving as the show's newsreader. While the move certainly made sense given Lauer's existing presence on the show, the newly minted host was reportedly very nervous to undertake the role. 

According to The New York Times, Lauer's first week on the job was "full of jitters and awkwardness," but his nerves certainly didn't seem to turn away viewers — his first week as host was the show's second-highest viewed week in history at the time. The production team behind the storied news network was obviously very happy with the decision to bump Lauer up to the leading role as host, and "Today" executive producer Jeff Zucker praised Lauer as the "hunk next door" who attracted female viewers. "It's great for us that women are attracted to him," Zucker said. "But that wouldn't work, and Matt wouldn't succeed, if he couldn't do the job."

Matt Lauer became a husband, again, and a father thanks to his marriage to Annette Roque

Matt Lauer had a lot of career momentum in 1997, but his personal life was also gaining some ground. As noted by Yahoo! Life, 1997 was also the year that he met Annette Roque, a Dutch-born model who made a name for herself in cosmetic advertisements. When she moved to New York City, she was modeling for brands such as J. Crew and Victoria's Secret, and based on reports about their blind date, Lauer and Roque hit it off right away. The pair were engaged just five months after they met, and they got married in Water Mill, New York in October 1998. 

Famed weatherman and "Today" co-host Al Roker said at the time of the wedding, "Watching them at the table. They would be talking to somebody, and when that person would leave, the two of them were looking into each other's eyes. You could see they were truly, truly happy." The couple welcomed three children after their 1998 nuptials — son Jack Matthew (born in 2001), daughter Romy (born in 2004), and son Thijs (born in 2006). As of publication, Lauer and Roque are divorced (more on that later).

The 9/11 attacks on the United States solidified Matt Lauer's position as a then-trustworthy news anchor

If you're over the age of 25, chances are you can recall exactly where you were on September 11, 2001. For those born after that fateful event, the date still stands in remembrance. As for Matt Lauer, the world-shattering event marked one of his most prominent performances as a news anchor, as he was on the air when the attack commenced. 

As noted by The New York Times, Lauer was interviewing writer Richard Hack about a new book when he was stopped mid-interview. He was informed that there was a photo to be shown on live television, and after a technical mishap, the camera cut to Lauer and co-host Katie Couric. The footage of Lauer covering one of the world's most devastating stories can still be seen on YouTube, and his remarks when the plane crashed into the second tower are harrowing. "What we've just seen is the most shocking video tape I've ever seen," he said. The footage of Lauer and Couric reporting on the attacks can also be seen in the 9/11 memorial museum in New York City (via TheWrap).

Matt Lauer was reportedly part of the 'boys' club atmosphere' that forced out Today host Ann Curry

Despite curating himself to viewers as a fair, reliable news anchor on NBC's "Today," Matt Lauer reportedly had some troubling behavior behind the camera, some of which came to light before the 2017 scandal that effectively ended his career. As noted by The New York Times, Lauer was joined on "Today" by co-host Ann Curry, but by 2013, Curry was out of her high-profile job and demoted to anchor-at-large and national and international correspondent. Her departure from the host's table was described as "tear-strained" and became a PR nightmare for the network, as it was "deeply damaging" to the morning news show and to Curry herself. 

What hurt the former co-host the most was the humiliation that came with being pushed out of her job. The New York Times reported in 2013 that Curry suffered at the hands of "backstage machinations" and a "boys' club atmosphere" that undermined her abilities. At the helm, reportedly, was Lauer, who had grown an "indifference" to Curry that "hurt the most." Accompanied by the "general meanness" present on the "Today" set, the debacle certainly did not cast Lauer in the best light.

Allegations of sexism plagued the Today host after his treatment of Hillary Clinton on-air

Breaking through the glass ceiling in business and politics has been the goal of countless women who have all strived to take a seat in traditionally male-occupied roles. When it was Hillary Clinton's turn to represent the Democratic party in the 2016 presidential election, she wasn't just at the mercy of voters' opinions and political pundits — she also had to contend with the ways in which hosts and debate moderators treated her, which were clearly rooted in sexism. Cue Matt Lauer, who came under intense fire for his treatment of Clinton after a live, primetime forum that featured both her and then-competitor Donald Trump.

As noted by The New York Times, Lauer was accused of "unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event," as he consistently interrupted Clinton and refused to fact-check Trump after he made wildly inaccurate claims about Iraq. Lauer's handling of the forum was so bad that political advisers and members of the journalism community took to social media to express their outrage. Former Barack Obama aide Tommy Vietor posted, "How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad."

After a string of accusations were lobbed against Matt Lauer, NBC fired the longtime host

For almost 20 years, Matt Lauer served as a fixture of morning television. And while his on-screen persona was that of a trusted, reliable anchor, Lauer's reported behavior behind closed doors was disturbing, and ultimately led to his departure from NBC. As noted by The New York Times, a former employee came forward with harrowing accusations against Lauer, telling The Times that Lauer had called her to his office back in 2001, locked the door behind her, and proceeded to assault her. She recalled passing out, and having to seek medical attention after the attack, but she did not come forward with her story for fear of being shamed or reprimanded. 

Over 15 years later, she made her experience known, and NBC fired Lauer as a result. "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," Andrew Lack, the NBC News chairman, wrote in a staff memo at the time. Lauer said in a statement that he had "sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused."

Two years after the first allegations were leveled against the former anchor, new details came to light

Matt Lauer's fall from grace was certainly shocking to some, and more than two years later, additional information about his alleged behavior during his time as a "Today" co-host came to light. As noted by Us Weekly, journalist Ronan Farrow released a book entitled "Catch and Kill" in 2019, in which former NBC employee and assistant to NBC star Meredith Vieira, Brooke Nevils, claimed that Lauer raped her at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. 

"It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," she recounted to Farrow. "It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn't want to have anal sex." In response to the troubling allegations, Lauer released a lengthy statement, refuting all notions that the encounter was not consensual. "The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth," Lauer's statement read. "I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period." As noted by the Daily Mail, it was reportedly Vieira who encouraged Nevils to come forward with her story.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

After more than 20 years of marriage, Matt Lauer got divorced for the second time

While Matt Lauer's professional life went up in flames, so did his personal life. Details about his marriage to Annette Roque came to light in the wake of his dismissal from NBC, and an inside source shared with Us Weekly that Roque had wanted to end her marriage to Lauer for some time. "Annette wanted out of the marriage for a long time," the insider shared. "She stayed for Matt's career — and, more important, for their kids," they continued, before saying, "she's been through hell." The inside source divulged that there had been "cracks" in the union between Lauer and Roque for some time, and that Lauer's behavior as a "ladies' man" had taken its toll on their marriage. 

"There were affairs in the beginning," the insider shared, saying that Roque "chose to believe Matt's denials" during their marriage. In September 2019, Lauer and Roque's divorce was finalized, as noted by People, and the exes stated that their primary focus was the well-being of their three children. As noted by Page Six, Lauer was "bending over backwards" to give Roque what she wanted during their divorce proceedings, and it was reported that she walked away with a figure as high as $20 million.

Matt Lauer has kept a very low profile since 2017, but reportedly wants that to change

Since leaving NBC, Matt Lauer has kept a low profile, and he doesn't have a ton of friends in his corner. As noted by People, Lauer has been living in the Hamptons and has been spending time with his children, who are all now teenagers. He is also romantically involved with Shamin Abas, a Welsh businesswoman. Despite getting his personal life slightly back on track, Lauer reportedly misses the rush of work and wants to get back in the game. A friend of Lauer's shared with People that the disgruntled anchor "wants to work again" and has spent time trying to disavow Ronan Farrow's aforementioned reports that he raped Brooke Nevils. 

"He believes strongly that Ronan did not verify the information pertaining to him," a close friend of Lauer's told People, before sharing that heading back to work and "doing the journalistic work he loves" is in Lauer's future. "Matt cares so much about what people think about him, even though he might not want to admit that," another source shared, explaining why Lauer has spent so much energy fretting over his already-damaged reputation.

Is wedding No. 3 on the horizon for Matt Lauer?

Matt Lauer's first marriage dissolved without a ton of bad blood, and his second divorce took place during one of the most divisive times of his career. But according to OK! Magazine, wedding bells may once again ring in Lauer's future. OK! reported that Lauer has been "talking to friends about marrying" his current girlfriend, Shamin Abas, and wants a "big Hamptons wedding." While marrying Abas may be achievable, having a large ceremony might not be in the cards for Lauer. 

As sources told OK!, Lauer has "done everything he can to regain his place in the community," but people in his life continue to brush him off given the seriousness of the allegations lobbed against him. "He'll turn up at fancy events and be super friendly with everyone, but most people just turn their noses up at him," a source shared with OK!, indicating that a big wedding with a large crowd of happy onlookers might not be a reality. "It's hard to imagine there'd be much of a turnout," the source continued. "People have had ample time to put out the welcome mat, but it seems like they've shut their doors on Matt for good."