In 2008, there was a secret roast of Matt Lauer in New York. Some of the hottest stars in Hollywood — and apparently Donald Trump — attended the event, and as is standard at roasts, told scores of obscene jokes about Lauer, themselves, and each other. Although the event did not allow recording devices, Village Voice reporter Tony Ortega was there and scribbled down "the dirtiest jokes" he heard. They resurfaced on Thursday, and in light of the recent sexual harassment and assault allegations made against Lauer, some of the jokes told at Lauer's secret roast now read as positively incriminating.
According to Ortega's transcript, Lauer himself joked about having had sex with both Ann Curry and Katie Couric, his NBC colleagues. Couric herself made a joke implying that Lauer and Curry had been intimate with one another, while Meredith Viera suggested the same of Lauer and Couric. Martha Stewart joked that Lauer's nickname at NBC was "Cock of the Rock," while NBC Chief Jeff Zucker made a joke about Lauer masturbating.
In reference to Couric's televised colonoscopy, Lauer said, "I saw that colon a lot before the rest of you saw it.” After other speakers joked that Lauer had a small penis, the newsman remarked, "It was fun to look over and see Ann Curry laughing ... like she doesn’t know how big my dick really is.” Couric said that Lauer "loves to eat Curry," while Zucker said that Lauer is "the only guy I know who uses Purell both before and after he masturbates."
When Viera took the stage, she opened by noting that as a TV host, mother and wife, she herself has a lot of balls to juggle.
“Look at Katie Couric," Viera continued. "She juggled Matt’s balls for six years. That’s three years per ball. She squeezed those suckers so tight, she left nothing for me. Thanks, Katie."
When Zucker took the stage, he made a reference to Lauer "having some trouble at home with the wife." It was reported that in 2006 — two years before the roast — Lauer's wife briefly filed for divorce before withdrawing the lawsuit a month later.
NBC announced on Nov. 29 that Lauer had been fired by the network due to "a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace." The New York Times later reported that NBC subsequently received two more complaints against Lauer before the end of the day, including one from a former employee who claimed that Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office until she passed out. Lauer denies the allegations.
After Lauer was fired, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough discussed the 2008 roast, saying that he attended but left early because he felt uncomfortable. “The whole theme was that [Lauer] does the show and then he has sex with people, with employees,” Scarborough said. “So was this whispered behind closed doors? No. It was shouted from the mountaintops and everybody laughed about it.”
The transcript of the roast does not prove, however, that those in attendance were aware of the harassment and assault allegations against Lauer that would surface nine years later. The event was apparently chock full of sex jokes, some of which were premised on the idea of Lauer being intimate with his co-workers; however, none of the jokes published in Ortega's Village Voice article reference actual sexual harassment or assault. Furthermore, no other contemporaneous accounts of the Lauer roast exist, so everything else that was said that night is lost to the sands of time.
Nevertheless, Lauer's repeated jokes about having sex with his co-workers look positively sinister in retrospect, and they should have at least raised a red flag to the rest of his colleagues all those years go.