Shortly after NBC unleashed news of its firing of “The Today Show” anchor Matt Lauer, President Trump ripped into the left-leaning network and even called for MSNBC to fire Joe Scarborough based on an “unsolved mystery” surrounding the death of Scarborough’s intern in 2001.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning: “So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of [MSNBC President] Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!”
The president also urged the news media to “Check out Andy Lack’s past!” Lack, 70, is the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC.
On July 20, 2001, Scarborough was a Republican congressman who represented Florida when his 28-year-old intern, Lori Klausutis, turned up dead in his office.
A 28-year-old office worker for U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough was found dead Friday in the congressman’s district office.
Preliminary findings from the medical examiner’s office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide, said Police Chief Steve Hogue.
Authorities identified the woman as Lori Klausutis of Niceville. She had worked for Scarborough since May 1999, said Mick Serrano, press secretary for the congressman.
Her body was found on the floor behind a desk at about 8 a.m., Hogue told the Northwest Florida Daily News. Authorities were not sure if she had been there overnight or had opened the office a few minute earlier.
According to the medical examiner, Klausutis, who had an abnormal heart rhythm, lost consciousness and fell in Scarborough’s office. She reportedly hit her head on a desk, which caused her death, the medical examiner said. Authorities said Klausutis had told people she wasn’t feeling well the day before she died.
The tragic incident resurfaced in 2010 when Mark Moulitsas, founder of the leftist website Daily Kos, fought with Scarborough on Twitter and brought up the “story of a certain dead intern.”
That’s when Scarborough fired back at Moulitsas, who had been a frequent guest on MSNBC. Scarborough accused Moulitsas of having “a long history of spreading lies suggesting I am a murderer.”
After the fallout, Griffin banned Moulitsas from appearing on MSNBC.
But that wasn’t the only time high-profile personalities had suggested foul play in the death of Klausutis.
In 2005, Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott brought up the case in a column and later apologized. But Scarborough wrote a letter to the magazine blasting Wolcott.
Scarborough’s letter stated:
His libelous charge, pulled from a hate site on the Internet, led readers to believe that a good woman named Lori Klausutis carried on an adulterous sexual affair with a congressman before being killed in a sleazy sex-scandal cover-up. The article also suggested that this imaginary sex scandal forced me to leave office. I was painted as the Republican Party’s answer to Gary Condit, saved from prosecution by a right-wing media machine. …
Here are the facts Vanity Fair and James Wolcott would have learned had they spent five minutes on the telephone engaging in rudimentary fact-checking: (1) Lori worked in my annex office in Okaloosa County, Florida. (2) I met her no more than three times; I was never alone with her. (3) I didn’t leave Congress because of her death; I announced my retirement from Congress in May 2001-she passed away several months later.
Vanity Fair also noted that leftist activist Michael Moore had registered the domain name JoeScarboroughKilledHisIntern.com.
And Daily Kos has published other articles suggesting Klausutis might have been murdered.
On Wednesday, Scarborough responded to Trump’s tweet, writing: “Looks like I picked a good day to stop responding to Trump’s bizarre tweets. He is not well.”
Scarborough’s MSNBC co-host, Mika Brzezinski, ripped into President Trump in a statement to New York Magazine. She wrote:
I’ll speak for Joe and myself here because Joe has stated that responding to President Trump’s tweets are a waste of his time. Today the president crossed another deeply disturbing line.
With his attack on Joe this morning, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America advanced a false conspiracy theory to intimidate the press and cause a chilling effect on the 1st Amendment. Joe and I are not intimidated and his bizarre behavior contravenes both the Constitution and basic moral judgment. This is all we are going to be saying on the matter. We continue to focus on more pressing issues like the nuclear conflict with North Korea. We hope the president will do the same.
As for Lack – who reportedly made the decision to fire Lauer and was said to be close personal friends with the anchor – it’s unclear what part of the NBC’s chairman’s “past” Trump was referencing in the early morning tweet Wednesday. However, Lack was reportedly a key player in spiking a news story this year by reporter Ronan Farrow about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse. Farrow instead went to the New Yorker with the story.
Also, Lauer was president of NBC News when “Dateline” conducted an interview with Bill Clinton rape accuser Juanita Broaddrick in 1999. The network chose not to air the interview until after Clinton’s impeachment hearing and acquittal. Broaddrick has accused NBC of editing out portions of the interview where she discussed Hillary Clinton’s efforts to silence her husband’s accusers. Broaddrick has also called on Lack to air the entire, unedited version of the interview.
The following is NBC’s original 1999 “Dateline” segment in which Juanita Broaddrick details her alleged rape by Clinton:
Through the years, NBC has endured a number of “fake news” scandals.
In 1993, Lack became NBC’s president after the network received widespread condemnation concerning a faked truck explosion in a segment of “Dateline.” Lack headed the network until 2001, when he went to work for the Sony Entertainment Group and Bloomberg.
He returned to NBC in 2015 during another explosive scandal in which anchor Brian Williams had been caught fabricating a story of personal heroics, claiming to have been aboard a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 when it was hit by enemy fire. Lack suspended Williams from “Nightly News” and later replaced him with Lester Holt. Williams was moved to MSNBC, where he hosts “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams.”
As WND reported Wednesday, Lack fired Lauer, the anchor of “Today” for two decades, after a “detailed complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Lack said in a memo to employees that the complaint, which was made by a colleague of Lauer’s, was the first complaint lodged against the newsman in his career at the network but that there was “reason to believe” it may not have been an isolated incident.
The allegation prompted a serious review and represented a “clear violation of our company’s standards,” said Lack.
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” he added.
Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a female NBC staffer during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, sources told Page Six.
Reporters for the New York Times and Variety had been investigating Lauer, 59, for several weeks, reported CNN.
Variety’s New York bureau chief Ramin Setoodeh said on Twitter that he and his colleagues have been looking into “serious sexual harassment allegations against Lauer” for two months.
“There were multiple victims,” Setoodeh tweeted.
In September, Lauer grilled Bill O’Reilly about allegations of sexual harassment against the former Fox News anchor.
Lauer asked: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on, you carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”
Is sex abuse tied to power? by Joseph Farah
Why I believe Judge Roy Moore by Jane Chastain
How Matt Lauer helped save Bill Clinton by Jack Cashill
How not to respond to the fall of Matt Lauer by Michael Brown
Sex in America, Part 2 by Ann Coulter
During the interview, Lauer lectured O’Reilly: “But think about those five women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-racking that must have been. Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?”
Watch the interview:
Toward the end of the segment, Lauer asked O’Reilly: “Over the last six months since you’re firing, have you done some soul searching? Have you done some self reflection? And have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?”
As it turns out, NBC and Matt Lauer poked fun of sexual harassment in the following 2012 skit in which Lauer was presented as the “victim”:
And, also in 2012, former co-anchor Katie Couric revealed Lauer’s most “annoying” habit. She said, “He pinches me on the a– a lot.”