Katie Couric isn't willing to let her old pal Matt Lauer off the hook for his "disturbing" behavior.
Katie, who co-hosted the "Today" show with Matt for 15 years, said she never felt mistreated by the disgraced former newsman but thinks it may have been because, based on their positions at "Today," he wasn't able to exert his power or influence on her.
"I certainly dealt with sexist environments and environments that marginalized and didn't give women their due, and didn't treat women as intellectual equals, but it's hit very close to home with Matt Lauer and what happened there," she told TheWrap. "It's been an important experience for me because I never faced this kind of treatment. I was one of the lucky ones — I think I am harassable and I'm not harassable in that sense, and I think it is because I was in a position of power early in my career."
Asked what she would say to her former colleague if she saw him now, Katie said, "I hope he's trying to figure out and understand his behavior and why he did it and why it was so wrong."
Matt was abruptly fired by NBC last year after serious allegations of sexual misconduct. In late November 2017, he issued a lengthy apology in which he admitted to some of the bad behavior and expressed "sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused."
Katie never saw that side of Matt, she says.
"We had a wonderful working relationship," said Katie. "It's shocking, honestly, and disturbing, disorienting, disheartening — all of those d-words. But I think he's not the only one who behaves in this way. People all over the place … have participated in this kind of behavior, that have used their power in an exploitative and unacceptable way."
The longtime newswoman said education is the key to changing the culture in the workplace.
"Cultures have existed in the media, and in every arena, where behaviors were tolerated, people looked the other way, it was an accepted way of doing business," she said. "I don't think people paid much attention to it. In my case, it was something I was unaware of because if you talk to experts about this, people are very proficient at being secretive about certain behavior and making sure people don't witness certain behaviors. Culturally, it's a huge problem: the tone that is set from the top. About having a complete male management structure, the very presence of women reduces toxic masculinity in the work place. Putting women in more leadership jobs with real authority and vision-making ability is absolutely critical if we're going to change the culture."