The 61-year-old journalist, who served as Lauer's Today show co-host from 1997 to 2006, has kept relatively quiet since he was fired in late November for sexual misconduct, but is finally ready to share her story.
In a new interview with People, Couric calls the scandal surrounding Lauer "painful" for her, and says that she was unaware of the claims made against him both while she was working at Today and afterwards.
"The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment," Couric reveals.
“I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” she says. “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”
The joke that Couric is referring to occurred on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in 2012, when she said that Lauer's most annoying habit was that he "pinches me on the a** a lot." The clip made the rounds after Lauer's firing, but Couric stayed silent, explaining in an Instagram comment in December that the claims against Lauer were "incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I'm ready to."
Lauer -- who addressed the allegations against him and apologized in a statement to Today, writing, "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC." -- is one of many high profile men to be the subject sexual misconduct scandals over the last few months.
“I think it was really moving to see so many women support each other and demand change, not only for themselves, but for mistreated and marginalized women in all kinds of industries,” Couric tells People. “Clearly we are witnessing a sea change and a long overdue course correction.”