A former production assistant at the “Today” show has revealed a previously secret relationship with Matt Lauer, which she claims was consensual but eventually led her to feel like a victim due to the power dynamic.
Addie Collins opened up about her relationship with the former “Today” host in an article published by Variety on Thursday in which she claims he “went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful” women in the office.
Lauer was fired from NBC last month after multiple women revealed claims of sexual misconduct against the “Today” host. While Collins’ (who now goes by her married last name Zinone) relationship with Lauer was consensual and most of his accusers claim that his sexual advances were unwanted, she feels that Lauer was enabled by others to carry on with his behavior.
Collins started as an intern at “Today” where she formed close relationships with Katie Couric, Al Roker and Ann Curry. Eventually she earned a position as a production assistant for the NBC show and after realizing she wanted to be in front of the camera rather than behind it, she accepted a job as a local news anchor in her hometown. Just weeks before she left NBC to take the job, she claims, Lauer made his move.
After hitting on her via instant messaging, which Collins revealed in her account to Variety, Lauer took her to lunch where she was hoping to get career advice from him before she left NBC. Instead Lauer used it as “an opportunity for him to come on to me,” Collins recalls.
“It was flattering, confusing, overwhelming. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do with it. He was clearly trying to guide the conversation. He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it,” Collins recalls. “Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’ In no lunch I’d ever had at ‘Today’ had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.”
After lunch Collins messaged Lauer, who immediately told her to meet him in a dressing room. She agreed and their sexual relationship began, consisting of several encounters over the period of a few weeks. Now, Collins realizes she wasn’t the only one and believes Lauer was enabled by others to act in this manner.
“He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns,” Collins wrote. “He felt like he was untouchable. He lacked so much morality and reality, because he had people enabling him. I see the common threads and how he preyed on women, and I was one of them.”
“There is no way he could have gotten away with it without others above him making these situations go away — manipulating, strategizing, whatever it is they did to wield their power against the powerless. It’s really a frightening place to be as a woman when you know you have a powerful force working against you,” Collins admitted. “He was the golden boy. His contract always got renewed for millions of dollars more, and he was the face of NBC. How is any woman supposed to go up against that?”