Matt Lauer was fired from his post at NBC's "Today" on Wednesday after the company said it received a complaint about the co-anchor concerning inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
The announcement was read at the top of the iconic morning news program by Lauer's on-air partners Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, both of whom appeared shaken by the news they learned only moments earlier.
The statement from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said: "On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. 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 company offered no other details on the circumstances or complaint that led to the firing.
"We are devastated," Guthrie said after reading the statement. "We are still processing all of this and I will tell you right now we do not know right now more than what I just shared with you. ... For the moment, all we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he is beloved by many, many people here and I am heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women with stories to tell."
Kotb said, "It's hard to reconcile with what we're hearing with the man that walks in here every day."
Lauer, 60, has been co-anchor of "Today" since 1997 after first joining the show as a news reader in 1994. He is the highest-paid anchor in television news, with an annual salary of more than $20 million. He has been the longest-running host on the program, which NBC launched in January 1952.
Lauer's popularity has helped make "Today" the top-rated and most profitable morning program during most of his tenure.