NEW YORK — A former “Today” show staffer has revealed an affair she claims to have had with former host Matt Lauer.
Addie Collins Zinone gave a first-person account of the alleged affair to Variety.
Zinone, who is now married, said she was 24 years old when she started working for NBC’s “Today” show after a summer internship.
She said Lauer, who was fired last month amid sexual misconduct allegations, began messaging her just a few weeks before she was leaving NBC for a reporting job in West Virginia.
“Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this. but you look fantastic. i don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it’s agreeing with you,” a printed copy of the messages from Lauer revealed.
Zinone said she thanked Lauer for the message and told him about her new job. She asked him for “a little advice” before she left.
She said Lauer messaged her a month later, “OK… NOW YOU’RE KILLING ME… YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! A BIT TOUGH TO CONCENTRATE.”
At first she thought somebody was pranking her by sending messages from Lauer’s computer.
She told Variety what happened next:
We went to lunch. My intentions were purely professional. I thought this was a way to get real-world constructive advice. What that turned into was an opportunity for him to come on to me. It was flattering, confusing, overwhelming. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do with it. He was clearly trying to guide the conversation. He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it. Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: “You leave first, and I’ll leave after.” In no lunch I’d ever had at “Today” had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.
She said when they got back to the office, he messaged her to meet him in his dressing room. She said they met several times over the next few weeks.
The situation really took its toll on me. I changed physically. I changed emotionally. Fear crept into my life. I became unsure of myself. Any confidence I had was gone. For him, it was a conquest. One afternoon, he told me to come see him in his office. I thought he was finally going to talk to me and encourage me professionally. I wanted to hear from him that I could succeed in West Virginia. I sat across from him, and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts. It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff. I was like, “No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.”
She said the last time she saw Lauer was during the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles where they had an “encounter” in a bathroom of the Staples Center.
“I’m not trying to get anything out of this situation, other than be another voice in this important conversation about women in the workplace,” Zinone told Variety.
“The things that Matt did to me, there are men doing to other women,” she said. “Although it wasn’t a crime in my case, it’s still not right.
“Matt took advantage of his power. It’s sickening. It breaks my heart that he did this for so long.”