Matt Lauer is a former Today show host but was fired last month after multiple women came forward and accused him of sexual harassment. During an interview with Us Weekly, the former host 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.’ Now, Addie Zinone, a former production assistant on the Today Show claims she entered a brief sexual relationship with Matt Lauer during her time there.
During a first-person account with Variety, Addie Zinone, who is now 41, claims that when she was 24 years old and working as a production assistant on the Today show, she entered into a relationship with Matt Lauer.
At the time, Matt was in his 40’s and married to his current wife, Annette Roque.
Addie claims that in 2000, on June 8, after more than two years on the show, Matt sent her a message on an instant messaging app that was used for employees.
The messages read: ‘hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic. I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life… but it’s agreeing with you.’
Addie said that she thanked him for the compliment and then proceeded to ask him for some professional advice after she had accepted a new job in West Virginia.
He agreed and then the pair set up a lunch. Addie said that Matt was flirting with her over lunch and then she became overwhelmed.
‘He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it. Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’ In no lunch I’d ever had at Today had anyone suggested we leave separately as if something was up.’
After that, Addie claims that Matt invited her to his dressing room above studio 1A.
‘He opens the door. There you go. It crossed the line. It was a consensual encounter. It happened in his dressing room above studio 1A, which was empty in the afternoons. He got in his car and I had to go back to work, and now my life had completely changed.’
Addie continued on by saying that their meetings occurred several times over the next few weeks and that they took a toll on her.
‘I sat across from him, and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts. It was embarrassing because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff. I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.’’’
In the end, Addie stated that their relationship was completely consensual but she still felt like a victim since she felt like Matt had abused his power.
‘He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns. I’m putting my name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women against Matt Lauer.’
‘I’m validating their stories because some of our experiences are similar. I want these women to know that I believe them, I want to help empower them and collectively we have a voice to change things. I have a 7-year-old daughter. I want to do everything I can to ensure this doesn’t happen to her.’