Former “Today” show staffer Addie Zinone spoke on camera for the first time on Monday, Dec. 19, with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, detailing the blowback she’s gotten since coming out about her brief consensual relationship with fired “Today” show host Matt Lauer. She also revealed why she made the decision to go public about their affair.
Zinone, who was a 24-year-old production assistant for the show when the month-long relationship with Lauer started, said she wasn’t speaking out to present herself as a martyr, but to put a face to some of the allegations that have come since Lauer was fired.
“I’m coming forward and saying yes, this was consensual, [but] it was an abuse of power,” she told Kelly. “I want to put a face and a story to these women’s accusations because I’m seeing that they’re being doubted and so I thought, ‘I’ve got to validate their claims.’ This happened and I’ve got to explain it in embarrassing detail because I want them to understand commonalities in our stories.”
She said she’s been contacted by several women who shared her situation, but didn’t want to specify if they had also been involved with Lauer.
Zinone said that over the years, she stayed in touch with Lauer via email, mostly when a journalist would reach out to ask about her tryst with him.
Writing in Variety, she said she pulled into her driveway in West Virginia one day after the affair had ended to find a reporter from the National Enquirer in her driveway. She told him that she and Lauer were just friends. Then she contacted Lauer.
“He wrote back, “Who did you tell?” After that, he completely ghosted me. He left me to handle all this on my own, which I did,” she wrote.
NBC announced on Nov. 29 that Lauer had been fired after a female employee and her attorney came forward with sexual harassment allegations.
Zinone said she always assumed that Lauer had affairs with other women based on the ease with which he cheated on his wife with her. But she never thought it would be with other NBC employees.
“I thought if he continued that behavior, and what he did with me, there would have to be other people coming forward over 17 years, we would have heard about that, right?”
When the news broke, Zinone said it was comforting to know that others had been through a similar experience, but also frightening because she started getting calls from news media asking if she would tell her story. And the pushback after her story, she said, is as intense as she anticipated.
“I understand that people are going to paint me as a homewrecker, as a slut and a whore —those are things I have been called. It was suggested yesterday to me, ‘Please, please go get hit by a bus,'” she said.
Lauer hasn’t responded to her account of their relationship, but said in a statement shortly after his firing that “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish most.”