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Katie Couric Says She Didn't Know About Matt Lauer's Sex Harassment

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Katie Couric is raising eyebrows in a new interview by claiming she had no clue her former Today show co-star Matt Lauer had been sexually harassing women.

Incredibly, Couric told PEOPLE,"I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left," even though she previously shared on Andy Cohen's Bravo show how she remembered Lauer pinching her butt! Couric now has contended, however, that her remark was a joke.

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In a shocker, Lauer, 60, was fired more than a month ago after bigwigs found out about his allegedly sexually harassing women who worked for the morning talk show.

Couric, 61, who co-hosted Today with Lauer for 15 years, said, "The whole thing has been very painful for me. 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."

After saying she had no idea Lauer's misdeeds were going on when she was there or even afterwards, Couric added, "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."

But as reported, Couric accused her colleague of inappropriate actions in the past. On a 2012 episode of Watch What Happens Live, the news vet — who cohosted the show from 1991 to 2006 — accused Lauer of "pinching" her "on the a** a lot" during their time working together.

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In her PEOPLE interview, though, Couric said it was all in fun: "A joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship." sources said in early 2017 that Lauer wanted Couric to return to Today, but she denied rumors about considering coming back.

Couric, who left the morning show in May 2006 to anchor the CBS Evening News, sighed of the Lauer matter, "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."

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Lauer was fired in late November by NBC in the shock that went around the news world and Guthrie and Kotb are now co-hosts.

Did Couric get a heads up from Lauer that something might be coming?

The former Today cohosts shared dinner at Elio's restaurant in New York City on November 8, as exclusively reported.

"They were having an intense conversation," an onlooker said of Couric and Lauer's reunion.

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Lauer got the axe not long after that, with NBC News saying the network had received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior," with reason to believe "this may not have been an isolated incident."

Since then, various women, both named and anonymous, have accused the one-mighty morning show host of sexual harassment.

Married Lauer released a statement which read, ""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."

The PEOPLE interview is the first time Couric-- who has a new National Geographic Channel series focusing on workplace sexual harassment issues--has spoken in depth about Lauer's scandal. But many are sure to question her claim that she didn't know anything had been going on.

What do you think, readers? Weigh in in the comments section below!

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