A former TODAY staffer, Addie Collins Zinone, recently came forward to reveal that she had an affair with former TODAY host Matt Lauer when she was 24. Matt Lauer was fired from TODAY for sexual misconduct. The accusations against him are numerous and allege that his behavior took place for years. Now, Zinone explains the nature of her relationship with Lauer.
When the Matt Lauer scandal broke, a number of women who worked with him came forward to tell their stories regarding his inappropriate behavior. The allegations ranged from crude comments all the way to unwanted physical contact. Though Lauer has admitted responsibility for his actions, he has also denied some of the accusations against him.
Though it was consensual, Zinone called the affair “an abuse of power.” When the former TODAY staffer was a production assistant at the show, she received several flirtatious messages from Lauer. At 24, she was much younger than Lauer and unsure of how to handle the situation. She at first assumed it was someone logged into Lauer’s account sending her the messages as a joke, but later she found out it was Lauer himself.
Ignoring the messages, Zinone asked Lauer if he could offer her any career advice, as she was leaving TODAY for another job. He did not respond to her for a month. The next message she received from him was in regards to her physical appearance. Zinone had lunch with Lauer a day after that message. Afterward, they had a sexual encounter in Lauer’s dressing room.
“I felt isolated, felt confused, felt shame. It was just all-consuming, I don’t know how to explain it,” said the former TODAY staffer about her encounters with Matt Lauer. Despite the fact that Zinone continued her affair with Lauer over the next month, she said the whole ordeal “shattered [her] perception of him.”
Zinone decided to come forward with her story so that she could empower other women who have faced similar situations. Though she had been contacted by tabloids and even offered money to tell her story, the former TODAY staffer wanted to share her experiences on her own terms to shed light on men who abuse their power in the workplace.
“I hear you and I’m going to stand up and take the heat,” Zinone said in an interview on TODAY with Megan Kelly, “I’m not a martyr, but I just want to put a face and humanize this issue and bring up this conversation about what consent means in that situation.”
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