The mood at 30 Rock, where the “Today” show tapes, was “somber” and “shell-shocked” on Wednesday morning, said Padma Lakshmi, who appeared on the show for a cooking segment. Other sources told Fox News that the vibe at the NBC headquarters was tense, with one source describing a funeral-like atmosphere in the newsroom after Matt Lauer’s ouster on Wednesday.
Lakshmi, the “Top Chef” host, cooked chicken in the studio alongside Al Roker, just moments after a nervous Savannah Guthrie told viewers that Lauer, who had worked at “Today” for years, was fired over a “detailed complaint” of inappropriate behavior.
Lakshmi said she was “utterly shaken up.” She wrote on Instagram, “As I watched [Guthrie] read Andy Lack’s statement, I was utterly shaken up. I must say that in all the many years I have been on [the ‘Today’ show] I have only experienced a warm, cordial and respectful environment. When I walked into 30 Rock it felt like someone had died. The mood was somber to say the least, shell-shocked would be more accurate.”
One source told Fox News the mood at “Today” was one of “fear” and “disbelief,” with some Lauer colleagues left stunned.
Lakshmi compared the vibe at “Today” to that of a broken household, saying it was like “finding out your dad has been cheating on your mom and the happy family you thought you were living in is in fact broken.”
“I must say that in all the years I have known Matt ... I have never found him to be anything but empathic, kind, totally appropriate, and respectful of me; a consummate professional. ... I am deeply saddened about Matt. ... But I stand in solidarity with the victims. And while this is a painful period in our cultural history, it is a good and necessary purging of one of the most harmful aspects of the ‘old boys club.’”
Emotions ran high on Wednesday when Guthrie announced Lauer’s firing on the air, her voice shaking as she told viewers she was devastated by the news. During the broadcast's 10 a.m. hour, Kathie Lee Gifford gripped a tissue and revealed that she'd sent Lauer a text message that morning that read, “I adore you.” She said she was turning to her faith to help her deal with the revelations.
On Thursday, Jenna Bush Hager was emotional as she told "Today's" Hota Kotb that she, too, was praying after learning that a man she'd called a “mentor” had allegedly committed horrible misdeeds.
“And I pray … for mercy, for everybody – for everybody that’s involved in this,” she said.
Lauer issued an apology on Thursday, which was read by Guthrie on “Today.”
It said, in part: “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt I am truly sorry.”
He admitted there is some truth to the salacious allegations and said his new “full-time job” will be "repairing the damage" caused by his alleged misconduct.