Matt Lauer’s troubles are far from over. This afternoon, Variety gave a platform to one of Lauer’s accusers, a then-24-year-old production assistant named Addie Collins:

Collins — who now goes by her married name, Zinone — describes in detail how her relationship with Lauer began:

I didn’t know what to do. He was obviously flirting. But I’d never seen anything like that from Matt before. As a 24-year-old production assistant, I had no idea how to interpret that. I could truly embarrass myself if I said something like, “Where are you going with this?”

We went to lunch. My intentions were purely professional. I thought this was a way to get real-world constructive advice. What that turned into was an opportunity for him to come on to me. 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. 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.

I get back to the office and I couldn’t concentrate. It was like an out of body experience. I know that sounds silly to someone who wasn’t there emotionally, but I couldn’t sit still. I sent him a message, and he wrote back right away.

Zinone shared the messages she and Lauer exchanged. While she does say that their relationship was consensual, she still felt preyed upon. And according to her, Lauer’s misconduct could never have persisted without enabling by NBC brass:

Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic. He knew that I was leaving, and that there was no better prey than somebody who is going to be gone. He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns. He understood that we were going to be so flattered and so enthralled by the idea that the most powerful man at NBC News is taking any interest in us. 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. 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?

Good question.

 

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