Megyn Kelly sat down with a woman named Addie Collins Zinone on Monday morning, who worked on Today as a production assistant in the year 2000, shortly after graduating college. After getting her feet wet at Today, Zinone was eventually offered a job as a reporter at a local station in West Virginia, and about one month before she was to leave she asked Matt Lauer for advice in the next phase of her career. Despite the fact that Lauer, who was in his early 40s at the time, had been sending her some flirty inter-office instant messages, Collins Zinone accepted his invitation to discuss her career over lunch.
Except Collins Zinone said, “During the lunch, it did not go to professional advice, it went quickly to accomplishing his goal.” Lauer’s goal, of course, was to pursue a sexual relationship with the young woman, and the two had their first encounter in what would turn out to be a month-long affair in the Today anchor’s dressing room later that day.
Collins Zinone admits responsibility for her part in what happened, although she does point out that what Lauer did was a gross abuse of power. On why she decided to come out with her story, Collins Zinone said, “So I want to guide the conversation, own my part in it, but also talk about this power dynamic in a workplace, and how that imbalance really does affect your thinking, your ability to think logically, to be aware of what it is you’re doing and the impact it’s going to have for the rest of your life.”
She continued, “And also, if you do find yourself in that situation like I did, how can we empower young women in the future, who find themselves in that situation … to make better decisions, to not make a mistake like I did.”
In the second half of the segment, Collins Zinone expressed the relief she felt when the news broke of Lauer’s firing, with the knowledge that she wasn’t the only one. “This happened to me, and I thought for sure I’m not the only other woman,” she explained, prior to hearing the news. “He did it so effortlessly, with me, that I thought for sure that there had to be other women. But I didn’t know that there [were] other colleagues, because I thought if he continued that behavior, and what he did with me, there would have to be other people coming forward over 17 years, we would have to have heard about that, right?”
“I just want to say to everyone out there who’s been in my situation that I hear you, and I’m going to sort of stand up and take the heat, I’m not a martyr,” Collins Zinone later said, giving her final thoughts at the end of the segment. “I just want to put a face and humanize this issue, and bring up this conversation about what consent means in that situation and for my daughter, my beautiful seven-year-old, when she gets to the workplace, how can I better fortify her for not being susceptible to this happening if she finds it.”