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Katie Couric breaks silence on Matt Lauer firing: ‘This was not the Matt we knew’

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Katie Couric is breaking her silence on former Today show co-host Matt Lauer more than a month after his firing.

Couric, 61, who co-hosted the show with Lauer for 15 years until she left in 2006, said the “whole thing” has been “very painful” for her during an interview with People Saturday.

“The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment,” she told the magazine.

She added that she had “no idea this was going on” during or after her tenure.

“I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect,” she continued. “In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting.”

Couric also praised Today‘s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who has taken Lauer’s place on the show, for how they have dealt with the situation.

“I really admire the way Savannah and Hoda and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation,” she added.

More: After Matt Lauer firing, NBC gets ratings boost

More: Replacing Matt Lauer: Is the era of the big-name TV news anchor over?

Lauer, 60, who co-anchored the NBC talk show for more than 20 years, was ousted from the company Nov. 29 following sexual harassment accusations against him.

A day after his firing, NBC News‘ Stephanie Gosk said there were as many as eight accusers while appearing on Megyn Kelly Today.

Lauer released a statement the same day, apologizing to the people he hurt.

“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.”

Photos: Matt Lauer’s time on ‘Today’

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 Matt Lauer during a broadcast of the "Today," show

Matt Lauer during a broadcast of the “Today,” show in New York, Nov. 16, 2017.  Zach Pagano, NBC via AP
Matt Lauer host of the Today Show speaks with Republican

Matt Lauer host of the Today Show speaks with Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump during an appearance on a NBC Town Hall during a broadcast of the Today Show in Rockefeller Plaza in New York, New April 21, 2016.   PETER FOLEY, EPA-EFE
Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC for "inappropriate

Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC for “inappropriate workplace behavior,” the network announced on the ‘Today’ show Wednesday. Take a look back at Lauer’s TV career, from the ‘Today’ show and beyond.  Nathan Congleton, NBC
Lauer joined 'Today' as the news anchor in 1994. As

Lauer joined ‘Today’ as the news anchor in 1994. As widely anticipated, he was tapped to replace Bryant Gumbel, right, as co-anchor of the top-rated morning program in December 1996.  Richard Drew, AP
Lauer succeed Gumble as the morning show's co-host

Lauer succeed Gumble as the morning show’s co-host on Jan. 6, 1997.  NBC via AP
Matt Lauer and Katie Couric in 1997.

Matt Lauer and Katie Couric in 1997.  Ken Regan, NBC
Lauer interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton, then in her

Lauer interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton, then in her second term as first lady, on Jan. 27, 1998.  Associated Press
In 2003, 'Tonight Show' host Jay Leno took Katie Couric's

In 2003, ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno took Katie Couric’s seat at the ‘Today’ anchor desk alongside Lauer, while she headed west to try her hand at late-night comedy.  David Atlas, NBC
Lauer got into a heated debate with Tom Cruise, the

Lauer got into a heated debate with Tom Cruise, the world’s most famous Scientologist, during a June 2005 interview when he broached the topic of the church’s stance on psychiatry and antidepressants.  VIRGINIA SHERWOOD, Virginia Sherwood, NBC via AP
Lauer was next to Couric on April 5, 2006, as she announced

Lauer was next to Couric on April 5, 2006, as she announced she would leave ‘Today’ for ‘CBS Evening News,’ where she became the first female solo network news anchor in history.  LISA BERG, AFP/Getty Images
NBC unveiled Meredith Vieira as Couric's 'Today' replaement

NBC unveiled Meredith Vieira as Couric’s ‘Today’ replaement on the following day, April 6.  RICHARD DREW, AP
Matt Lauer gives the ladies some room as 'Today' news

Matt Lauer gives the ladies some room as ‘Today’ news anchor Ann Curry, right, plants on one outgoing host Katie Couric during her final show on May 31, 2006.  RICHARD DREW, AP
Lauer with Britney Spears in 2006.

Lauer with Britney Spears in 2006.  NBC News
Lauer frequently tag-teamed with 'Today' weatherman

Lauer frequently tag-teamed with ‘Today’ weatherman Al Roker for the show’s annual Halloween episode. In 2006, they adopted a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean theme,’ with Lauer dressed as Capt. Jack Sparrow and Roker as Davy Jones. They’re joined her by Ann Curry, Meredith Vieira and Natalie Morales.  RICHARD DREW, AP
In May 2007, Lauer scored an interview with Princes

In May 2007, Lauer scored an interview with Princes Harry, left, and William. Here, they walk the grounds of Clarence House, where the princes lived with their father Prince Charles in their teens and early 20s.  Jeff Overs, AP
Having interviewed Prince William, Lauer was in a good

Having interviewed Prince William, Lauer was in a good position to play him during the show’s 2011 royal wedding-themed Halloween episode. Ann Curry played Duchess Kate while Al Roker donned a ginger wig to play Prince Harry.  Peter Kramer, AP
Joan Rivers air-kisses Matt Lauer during her 'Today'

Joan Rivers air-kisses Matt Lauer during her ‘Today’ show appearance on May 11, 2009.  Richard Drew, AP
Lauer suited up as Humpty Dumpty for a fairy-tale themed

Lauer suited up as Humpty Dumpty for a fairy-tale themed team Halloween costume in 2008. (From left: Ann Curry, Al Roker, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Amy Robach)  RICHARD DREW, AP
In 2009, Lauer and co-host Meredith Vieira dressed

In 2009, Lauer and co-host Meredith Vieira dressed as ‘Star Wars’ siblings Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia for Halloween.  Richard Drew, AP
Because NBC is the longtime home of the Olympics, Lauer

Because NBC is the longtime home of the Olympics, Lauer got to participate in the torch relay ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Here, he runs with the torch in in Burnaby, British Columbia, in February 2010.  DARRYL DYCK, AP
Lauer interviews snowboarder Shaun White, one of the

Lauer interviews snowboarder Shaun White, one of the breakout athletes of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, hours after after his gold medal performance on the halfpipe.  Denny Gainer, USA TODAY
Lauer interviews Drew Barrymore on the 'Today' show

Lauer interviews Drew Barrymore on the ‘Today’ show plaza on Aug. 31, 2010.  Peter Kramer, AP
Lauer talks with Kanye West on the 'Today' show in

Lauer talks with Kanye West on the ‘Today’ show in 2010. The interview came five years after the rapper’s infamous “George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people” remarks during a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Peter Kramer, NBC Universal, Inc.
Lauer interviews first lady Michelle Obama in 2011.

Lauer interviews first lady Michelle Obama in 2011.  Peter Kramer, AP
Lauer rides comedian Jim Carrey after a segment of

Lauer rides comedian Jim Carrey after a segment of fathers who horse around with their kids on a 2011 ‘Today’ show episode.  Peter Kramer, AP
The 'Today' crew bade farewell to another host, this

The ‘Today’ crew bade farewell to another host, this time Meredith Vieira, on June 8, 2011. Afterward, Ann Curry finally graduated to the anchor chair, which she held for less than a year.  Richard Drew, AP
Lauer looks on as Ann Curry, who graduated to co-host

Lauer looks on as Ann Curry, who graduated to co-host following Meredith Vieira’s departure in 2011, tearfully announces her own exit on June 28, 2012. Curry was largely blamed when ‘Today’ fell behind ABC’s Good Morning America’ in the ratings.  NBC
Lauer poses with Pink onstage following her 'Today'

Lauer poses with Pink onstage following her ‘Today’ performance in 2012.  Roger Kisby, Getty Images
Lauer, left, wasn't afraid to go in drag on Halloween.

Lauer, left, wasn’t afraid to go in drag on Halloween. Here, he channels Pamela Anderson alongside actual ‘Baywatch’ actress Carmen Electra and Willie Geist as David Hasselhoff in 2013.  Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images
Lauer poses with 'Today' co-anchor Savannah Guthrie

Lauer poses with ‘Today’ co-anchor Savannah Guthrie at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards.  Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
Lauer conducts a 2014 interview with Britain's One

Lauer conducts a 2014 interview with Britain’s One Direction in Orlando, Fla., the spiritual home of U.S. boy bands.  Gustavo Caballero, Getty Images
Actor Charlie Sheen revealed his HIV-positive status

Actor Charlie Sheen revealed his HIV-positive status to Lauer during a 2015 episode.  Peter Kramer, NBC
Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump,

Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, is interviewed by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on ‘Today’ show in April 2016.  Richard Drew, AP
Lauer speaks to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary

Lauer speaks to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during NBC News’ national-defense-themed Commander-in-Chief Forum on Sept. 7, 2016.  Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
In 2017, Lauer went in drag as Dolly Parton for what

In 2017, Lauer went in drag as Dolly Parton for what would be his final ‘Today’ Halloween episode, with Savannah Guthrie as Kenny Rogers.  Charles Sykes, Invision/AP
Luckily for Lauer, he had the genuine article to consult

Luckily for Lauer, he had the genuine article to consult on his Halloween costume.  Nathan Congleton, NBC
Lauer hams it up with the 'Today' puppy, Charlie,

Lauer hams it up with the ‘Today’ puppy, Charlie, dressed in Yankee pinstripes during the 2017 baseball playoffs.  Nathan Congleton, NBC
Lauer discussed pedophilia in Hollywood with actor

Lauer discussed pedophilia in Hollywood with actor Corey Feldman on Oct. 30, 2017.  NBC, NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Two weeks before his firing, Lauer interviewed former

Two weeks before his firing, Lauer interviewed former Vice President Joe Biden, who was promoting his book, ‘Promise Me, Dad.’ While in office, he was the Obama administration’s point person on preventing sexual assault.  NBC, Nathan Congleton/NBC
Lauer spoke often of his alma mater, Ohio University,

Lauer spoke often of his alma mater, Ohio University, visiting the campus on-air and delivering the commencement address after he finally finished his undergraduate degree in 1997. Lauer recently welcomed the school band, the Marching 110, to the ‘Today’ plaza on Nov. 22, the day before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “We’ve been hearing about this all week,” co-host Savannah Guthrie told the band.  Nathan Congleton, NBC
Lauer, captured behind the scenes on Nov. 21, 2017,

Lauer, captured behind the scenes on Nov. 21, 2017, was terminated on a week later after a single, detailed credible report of sexual misconduct, his first in 20 years as host of ‘Today.’ NBC News chairman Andy Lack said there was reason to believe it was not an isolated incident.  NBC, Nathan Congleton/NBC

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