Couric and Lauer had shared the stage of the show for 15 years before Couric left in 2006, and as the details of Lauer's lewd behavior became public, a 2012 interview of Couric conducted by Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live found its way back into the news because her words seemed to echo the allegations. In the chat, Couris answered the Bravo host's question about what Lauer's most annoying habit was by saying, "He pinches me on the a-- a lot."
Speaking to People, Couric now says that her words in that interview were made in jest and that she was taken aback by the revelations about Lauer because they don't align with the person she knew. "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," she told the magazine.
Couric also insisted that she wasn't aware of any of Lauer's alleged behaviors — which include gifting a co-worker with a sex toy and showing his genitalia to another.
"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," Couric explained. "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. It's still very upsetting."
Couric went onto compliment current co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who broke the news of Lauer's departure in late November, saying, "I really admire the way Savannah and Hoda and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation." Kotb has since been announced as Lauer's permanent replacement on the program, after filling in for him for two months.