As ‘Today’ grapples with Matt Lauer’s firing, the question becomes: What’s next?

As ‘Today’ grapples with Matt Lauer’s firing, the question becomes: What’s next?
Host Matt Lauer pauses during a break while filming NBC’s “Today” show. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

On Thursday, for the second day in a row, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb opened the “Today” show with disturbing news about former host Matt Lauer, who was abruptly fired Wednesday after an allegation of sexual misconduct from an NBC employee.

“It is a difficult morning here again because our top story is once again about our former colleague, Matt Lauer,” Kotb said.

Guthrie read a just-released statement from Lauer, who said in part: “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. . . . 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. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Variety and the New York Times published stories that had apparently been in the works for weeks, reporting allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women. On “Today,” correspondent Stephanie Gosk said NBC News confirmed that two more women came forward to the network about Lauer.

Lauer is just one of many high-profile male celebrities accused of sexual harassment since Harvey Weinstein’s downfall in early October. Hours after news about Lauer broke, former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor was fired from Minnesota Public Radio over an accusation of inappropriate behavior. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies on Thursday after a woman alleged he sexually assaulted her, which he strongly disputes.

But Lauer received the most attention in social media discussion, particularly the Variety story — in one anecdote, NBC employees told the publication that Lauer had a button under his desk that would lock his office door. “It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him,” Variety wrote.

As Gosk detailed on “Today,” the New York Times reported that a former NBC employee said Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office in 2001. Variety’s piece also quoted multiple other…