The two were very close, and Lauer had promoted Zimmerman to a high executive position and offered him a powerful perch.

Lauer’s conduct was not a secret among other employees at “Today,” numerous sources say.

“They protected the s— out of Matt Lauer.” Some producers told they were conflicted about what to do around Lauer.

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On Wednesday, NBC announced that Lauer was fired from “Today.” It was a stunning move for a co-host who was widely considered the crown jewel of the network’s news division, with a $25 million annual salary.

The cause of his dismissal, according to sources, was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months.

“There is such shame with Matt Lauer not liking you,” the former employee added.

“I did this special with him and we are traveling and I had a cold sore on my lip and I heard him say to Bryant Gumbel, ‘She has this really ugly cold sore on her lip,’ like that was something to be ashamed of.

He later told colleagues how his wife had accompanied him to the London Olympics because she didn’t trust him to travel alone.

The spotlight on Lauer intensified earlier this month, when his longtime booker Matt Zimmerman was fired over sexual harassment complaints.As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present.It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.The employee met with human resources at NBC on Monday night.In a statement, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack called this the first complaint about Lauer’s behavior in more than 20 years and acknowledged that it may not be the last: “We were also presented with reason to believe that this may not have been an isolated incident,” Lack said.His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.