'I had no idea': Katie Couric breaks her silence over Matt Lauer sexual assault claims a month after he was fired by Today and insists her 2012 comment that he 'pinched her a** a lot' was 'just a joke'
- Katie Couric told People that the scandal engulfing Lauer's firing had been 'very painful' for her
- She said she had 'no idea' of the accusations against him and insists he was 'respectful'
- Couric has stayed quiet for an entire month since Today fired Lauer over the allegations
- During that time, a 2012 interview in which she said he 'pinched her ass' a lot resurfaced
- In her interview this week, Couric insists the comment was 'a joke' and that their relationship was one akin to that of 'a brother and sister'
- She said Lauer, 52, was 'respectful' towards her throughout their 15 years co-hosting Today together and ever since
Katie Couric has broken her silence over her former Today co-host Matt Lauer's firing amid sexual harassment and assault claims.
The TV veteran told People that she had 'no idea' about the misconduct Lauer is accused of and that the scandal has been 'very painful' for her.
'The whole thing has been very painful for me.
'The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment.
'I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left. I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew,' she said.
Katie Couric has finally broken her silence on her former Today co-host Matt Lauer's firing over sexual harassment claims to say she had 'no idea' about his alleged misconduct. The pair are pictured in January last year when she made a special return to the show for his 20th anniversary
Insisting that Lauer had always been 'respectful' towards her, she said a 2012 comment she made that he 'pinched her a** a lot' was 'just a joke'.
Couric made the remark during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live. A clip of her saying it circulated after Lauer's firing.
In her People interview, however, Couric dismissed the suggestion it was proof that she knew of Lauer's reputation.
'Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect.
'In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship,' she said.
'It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation,' she added.
Couric and Lauer worked together on the NBC morning show between 1992 and 2006.
She was criticized for not addressing the scandal last year. In December, Couric said the claims were 'upsetting' but that she would only speak when she was 'ready'.
Lauer was fired in November over the allegations of multiple women, one of whom claimed he sexually assaulted her while they worked on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Just a joke: In 2012, Couric said Lauer 'pinched her a** a lot' while they worked together. She made the remark during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live. This week, she said she meant nothing by it
Not the Matt I knew: Couric said it was 'very painful' to hear allegations that Lauer harassed and sexually assaulted staffers, claiming he was always 'respectful' towards her. They are pictured in 2010
He apologized afterwards in a groveling statement in which he said 'some' of the allegations were 'untrue'.
After he was fired, the allegations of several women who had spoken to various media outlets about his alleged impropriety emerged.
They told how he casually conducted extra-marital affairs with young staffers and had a lock in his office at 30 Rock which, it was suggested, allowed him to conduct sexual lisasions at work.
Since then, questions have swirled over who at NBC knew about the alleged behavior.
Some sources likened the network's senior staff to an 'old boy's club' which protected Lauer.
Andrew Lack, the network's chairman, has insisted he was unaware of any alleged misconduct.
Both he and Couric were present alongside Jeff Zucker at a 2008 roast of Lauer where the jokes were obscene in their sexual graphicness.
There were repeated references to a sexual relationship between Couric and Lauer at the roast.
When it was her turn to speak, Couric made an explicit joke about Lauer performing oral sex on his ousted co-host Ann Curry.
Couric said she 'really admires' the way Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie, the current Today hosts, addressed the scandal and pushed on with the show despite it Kotb officially replaced Lauer at the start of the year
The event was described by attendees as 'three hours of d*** jokes'. It was so rude Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC host of Morning Joe, said he walked out early because he could not stand to hear more about Lauer 'pushing himself on people' and 'having sex with employees'.
Lauer himself joked at it that he had had sex with Couric.
All of the Today staff who have spoken out since Lauer's firing are unanimous in their shock over the claims of predatoriness.
Some have suggested they heard 'rumors' of impropriety and affairs but that the notion he was a harasser or assaulter stunned them.
Since Lauer's departure, Kotb has taken his place in the morning slot with Guthrie.
Both women and fellow Today host Willie Geist say they have been in touch with Lauer since he departed.
Neither earns the $25million a year that Lauer was taking home. Instead, they both earn $7million.
After leaving Today in 2006, Couric moved to CBS where she would go on to host CBS.
It is where she also worked with Charlie Rose who was also fired over sexual misconduct claims last year.
Couric has not given any public statement on the allegations against Rose.
Couric later returned to ABC news for a stint then served as the global anchor for Yahoo! News before leaving that position last year.
She has not taken up a full-time gig since then but is involved with a documentary series with National Geographic.
Lauer (seen above near his Hamptons home after he was dismissed) issued a grovelling apology afterwards
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