Following the ousting of NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell over sexual misconduct allegations against him, former Today Show star Katie Couric is weighing in — and looking back on former colleague Matt Lauer’s “disgusting” and “sad” actions and subsequent departure from NBC.
The veteran journalist was a part of the NBC family for nearly 20 years, having joined Today as national political correspondent in 1989, and she later became permanent co-anchor of the long-running morning show in 1991, until 2006.
While Couric was no longer on the Today Show by 2017, she witnessed from afar the demise of former Today Show host Lauer in 2017, who left both the show and public life after allegations of both sexual harassment and rape.
Speaking on Kelly Ripa’s new Sirius XM podcast Let’s Talk Off Camera, she recalled the moment she first learned of Lauer’s actions, and told Ripa: “I remember using the word ‘disgusted’ to talk about Matt’s behavior, and I think my overwhelming emotion is just being so disappointed and so sad.”
Separately, Shell stepped down in late April – he had held the executive role since 2020 – after an investigation from an outside law firm into a complaint about an inappropriate workplace relationship, to which the now former CEO has since admitted to. Though he only became CEO in 2020, Shell, 57, was part of the NBCU team since 2013, and worked for parent company Comcast since 2009.
As the two longtime media industry titans weighed in on what Couric described as “reckless” behavior on behalf of the former executive, she admitted: “It just amazes me that a powerful executive like that would be so dumb, just be so stupid and reckless.”
Not holding back, she added: “I think reckless is the word. You can see how it happens, but I think you have to be smart and disciplined and know that unless you tell your supervisor, and unless you’re not a direct report, that having a relationship with a colleague isn’t cool.”
Further elaborating on her surprise, she said: “I was so shocked that Jeff Shell would do this. What is it, the power dynamics, they’re so surrounded with yes people that the rules don’t apply to them?”
She continued: “It’s so self-destructive, that behavior,” adding: “Is it worth it? Or comport yourself in that way, get a divorce. Go to your superiors. Do the right thing, for your career, and your personal decisions.”
Shell’s last day as head of NBCU – which houses both the Today Show and NBC News – came on Sunday, April 23. In a statement at the time, he said: “Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret,” adding: “I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”
While it has yet to be revealed who will succeed him, Comcast’s own chief executive, Brian Roberts (Comcast has owned NBC since 2011) did say Shell’s senior team would be reporting to Comcast’s president Michael Cavanagh, putting him in control of NBCUniversal.