In 2000, Addie Zinone was a 24-year-old Production Assistant on The Today Show when newly-married, 40-something Matt Lauer started aggressively hitting on her.
Addie’s story – largely in her own words – was first published in Variety, Dec 14, 2017, by Ramin Setoodeh.
Lauer’s very first message to her read, ” “i hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this. but you look fantastic.” In other words, he knew that what he was doing and saying was all kinds of wrong.
As if that wasn’t enough, at the end of their first private lunch – at which Zinone hoped to receive some professional career advice – he told her to leave the restaurant separately from him. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
Zinone, for her part, was so taken aback by the messages that she initially thought someone was playing a trick on her. After ignoring the messages, her reply was, “OK is someone screwing with me?”
But he didn’t give up and she succumbed to his advances, ending up in a month of sex in his dressing room.
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.Addie Zinone
Her career also suffered as the result of the encounter:
My experience on air as an anchor [in West Virginia, immediately after she’d left the Today Show] turned out to be so traumatic that I quit. I was in a depression. This man who I’d held on a pedestal had made me feel like my looks and my body were my true assets. He made it clear that he wasn’t interested in my skills or my talent. It just shattered everything.Addie Zinone
The National Enquirer came sniffing around her about the story. It turns out Matt Lauer’s philandering and sexual harassment wasn’t exactly a secret. But she never sold her story. She wasn’t out for money. She just wanted to put it behind her.
But since we’ve now finally reached a moment in time that abusive men might possibly be held to account, she is adding her name publicly to the long list of women who Matt Lauer preyed upon.
Read Addie’s story in her own words in Variety, Dec 14, 2017, by Ramin Setoodeh.