AceShowbiz - Addie Collins Zinone, a former production assistant intern of NBC's "Today" who said she had an affair with Matt Lauer in 2000, has shared more details of her relationship with the fired "Today" anchor. She appeared on Megyn Kelly's hour of "Today" on Monday, December 18.
Zinone said that he and Lauer initially had a "strictly professional relationship," but things changed in June 2000. She said he sent her an instant message for the first time. "It said, 'Wow, you look great.' I don't remember verbatim. Whatever you're doing with your life, it's agreeing with you. Just wanted to let you know," Zinone recalled. "I thought, 'Well, that's nice.' "
Zinone, who was at the time about to leave "Today" for a position as a local anchor on WDTV Channel in her hometown in West Virgina, used this opportunity to ask Lauer if she could sit down with him and get some advice before leaving. Lauer agreed, but Zinone didn't hear another word from him until he sent her another message a month later.
"One day, I got another message that said, 'Okay, now you're killing me. You look great today. It's a bit tough to concentrate,' " Zinone said. She thought the message was a joke and once again asked Lauer if he would be willing to sit down with her. This time, he immediately set up a lunch for them the next day.
The lunch went quickly from casual to Lauer "accomplishing his goal" of hitting on her. Although Zinone felt awkward, he succeeded in luring her to his dressing room, where the two had their first alleged sexual encounter later that afternoon. Zinone was 24 at the time, and Lauer was newly married to his second wife, Annette Roque.
"I realize that sounds very naive and silly of me because I walked over there to do that," Zinone admitted. "But in that moment, I didn't have anybody to share my fears and confusion with except for him, because what am I going to say to people?"
The alleged affair lasted for about a month. Though Zinone felt that Lauer steered her into the situation, she takes full responsibility for her actions, calling it a "massive mistake" that continued to haunt her. "I'm not suggesting that he - well, he kind of lured me, but I'm not suggesting that I'm not owning my part in this. I went and met him over there," she said.
"These are very hard things to talk about," she went on sharing. "My family is shattered by this. They are afraid for me. This all trickles down to a lot of people that are affected, so having these conversations is really important, but also there's a lot of shame attached to what I did."
She continued, "I know who I am at my core, I know the values I have, but of course you carry shame. Because again, he has a wife. Even now, I don't want to pour salt on these wounds, and that's a really scary thing. You do carry that your whole life."
Of why she decided to open up about it now, she explained, "I want to guide the conversation away from that, own my part in it, but then also talk about this power dynamic in a workplace and how that balance really does affect your thinking, your ability to think logically, to be aware of what you're doing and the impact it's going to have the rest of your life."
She added, "And also, if you do find yourself in the situation like I did, how can we empower young women in the future who find themselves in that situation to get themselves back, to make better decisions - to not make a mistake like I did."
Lauer has been fired from his position on "Today" after NBC received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior." Other women later came forward with sexual harassment and assault allegations against the disgraced TV host.