A few things about that button on Matt Lauer’s desk:
Lauer, fired on Wednesday amid allegations of sexual misconduct, didn't install the button that enabled him to lock his office door automatically from his desk, it turns out. The mechanism was a standard feature in many of the older offices at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC's longtime corporate home, according to people familiar with the building's operations.
The button was one of the more lurid and damning elements of the sexual-harassment accusations against Lauer. Variety disclosed its existence in a story published a few hours after NBC dismissed the longtime "Today" host.
“It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer,” the publication said.
And yet, the buttons had more innocent purposes when they were installed years earlier by General Electric, which owned NBC for years and shared office space with the network.
The feature was a perk for top executives who wanted privacy for personal calls or as security in the event of a calamity — such as an active shooter within the building. It’s not clear how many people at NBC News had offices equipped with the device.
“Apparently, Matt was one of the few, if not the only, NBC News employee to have one,” said a senior NBC News employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the worker wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.
The automatic mechanism — which engaged a powerful magnet to close the door — locked it so that people outside the office could not enter. Anyone on the inside, however, could open the door without hitting the button, the NBC News employee said.
Some high-level NBC employees, including Lauer, inherited GE executive offices after new owner Comcast Corp. rearranged office assignments in 2011, people at the network said.