Matt Lauer’s open letter defending his reputation and categorically denying the rape accusation that Brooke Nevils leveled against him has prompted a new response from Nevils.
She says his 1,400-word letter striking out at her was “a case study in victim blaming.”
“As his open letter clearly reveals, there may be more than one Matt Lauer. There’s the Matt Lauer that millions of Americans watched on TV every morning for two decades, and there is the Matt Lauer who this morning attempted to bully a former colleague into silence,” Nevils said in a statement initially released to NBC News.
CNN Business has also obtained her statement. In it, she said Lauer’s letter “concluded by threatening any other woman who might dare to speak out against him.”
Nevils was apparently citing this paragraph from Lauer’s letter: “For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations. They have avoided having to look a boyfriend, husband, or a child in the eye and say, ‘I cheated.’ They have done enormous damage in the process. And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence.”
“This,” Nevils wrote in her response, “is the Matt Lauer, then the most powerful asset at NBC News, who I feared when I continued to engage with him, as many victims of acquaintance rape do, particularly in the workplace. This is the Matt Lauer I reported in November 2017. I was not afraid of him then, and I am not afraid of him now, regardless of his threats, bullying, and the shaming and predatory tactics I knew he would (and now has) tried to use against me. The shame in this story belongs to him.”
A representative for Lauer declined to comment on Nevils’ statement.
Nevils made the rape accusation in an interview with Ronan Farrow for Farrow’s new book “Catch & Kill.” She says Lauer raped her during a work trip to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She told Farrow, “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.” Afterward, she said, “it hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?”
Lauer, in his open letter, concurred that Nevils came to his room that night in Sochi, but said “each act was mutual and completely consensual,” he wrote, in denying that he raped her.
“There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner,” Lauer wrote.
They both acknowledge having a consensual sexual relationship back in the States. But the book describes Nevils as profoundly affected by the alleged rape, causing her to abuse alcohol and withdraw from work. “I just get so angry how this one thing derailed my life,” she told Farrow.
In a tweet Wednesday evening, Nevils said, “I want to thank the many survivors who shared their stories with me today and offered their support. It takes courage, and I am truly grateful.”
Earlier Wednesday, “Today” show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb expressed support for Nevils.
The letter landed a couple of hours later, and it floored his former NBC colleagues.
“Never seen anything like it,” one NBC staffer said.
Lauer says in his letter that his silence over the past two years has been a mistake and that he won’t stay silent anymore amid accusations about his behavior.
Lauer’s former co-host Ann Curry, who was forced off the show in 2012 and partly blamed Lauer for losing her job, tweeted her support for Nevils.
“I believe she is telling the truth. And that breaks my heart,” she wrote.
Curry is cited in “Catch & Kill” as one of the people who tried to alert her superiors about possible sexual misconduct by Lauer. NBC, though, insists that management was not aware of any official complaint against the “Today” show star until Nevils went to human resources in November 2017. Lauer was fired the next day.
Megyn Kelly, who hosted the third hour of the “Today” show at the time of Lauer’s firing, also commented on the matter Wednesday. She said “the attacks being heaped on Brooke Nevils” by people “who have no clue how unchecked power can infect a workplace are deeply misguided.”
“No sane person can think Lauer’s behavior here – that to which he *admits* – was anything less than abhorrent,” she tweeted. Then she asked a question: “How was he able to get away w/it so long?”