Matt Lauer interviews worth rewatching
In September, Matt Lauer sat down with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted after he was accused of sexual harassment.
“You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire, because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on,” Lauer said. ” … You carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years.”
Lauer, of course, was himself the long-time cornerstone of the “Today” show, one of the most profitable franchises on television.
On Wednesday, NBC News fired Lauer following a complaint this week about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
In his 20 years on “Today,” Lauer frequently led conversations on air about sexual assault and harassment. In a few instances, he was also criticized for questions he asked women during his interviews.
Here are some worth revisiting.
2017: Interview with Bill O’Reilly
On the “Today” show, Lauer repeatedly pressed O’Reilly on his firing from Fox News, while frequently adding commentary of his own.
“Think about those five women and what they did,” Lauer said, referring to an investigation by the New York Times that found five women had received settlements from O’Reilly or the network over sexual harassment accusations.
“They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at,” he continued. “Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-wracking that must have been. Doesn’t that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?”
He also asked O’Reilly if he had done any “soul searching” since he was let go in April.
2014: Interview with Mary Barra
In an interview with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Lauer asked her whether she could balance her duties as a mom with her obligations at work. The question generated backlash at the time.
“You said in an interview not long ago that your kids said they’re going to hold you accountable for one job, and that’s being a mom,” he said. “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do this job well?”
Lauer also noted that while Barra was “hugely qualified,” some people were speculating that she got the job because “as a woman, and as a mom” she could “present a softer face and softer image for this company” during a tough period for the business. Barra said it wasn’t true, and she was selected for the job based on her qualifications.
2012: Interview with Anne Hathaway
In 2012, Lauer interviewed Anne Hathaway while she was promoting her movie “Les Miserables.” Lauer began the segment by asking the actress about a paparazzi shot of her crotch that had been circulating online.
“Anne Hathaway, good morning, nice to see you,” he said. “Seen a lot of you lately.”
Lauer continued, “Let’s just get it out of the way. You had a little wardrobe malfunction the other night. What’s the lesson learned from something like that?”
An embarrassed Hathaway sought to redirect the conversation.
“It was obviously an unfortunate incident,” she said. “I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants. Which brings us back to Les Mis. … Let’s get back to Les Mis.”
2005: Interview with Cosby accuser
In 2005, Matt Lauer sat down with Tamara Green, who was one of the first people to say that Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her.
Lauer asked Green to walk him through the alleged incident, which Green said had occurred in the 1970s. He posed questions about why she hadn’t stopped Cosby and didn’t report what happened.
“Why didn’t you call the police after the medication wore off?” Lauer asked. “But what about a week later, what about days later?”
He also asked, “Are you prepared for a possible backlash from this?”
Green discussed Lauer’s apparent skepticism in an interview with Newsweek in 2014.
“He kept saying, ‘If you make this accusation, you’re not going to be able to unring the bell,’ she said. “I said, ‘All you have to do is keep your pants on and keep your hands to yourself. It’s not that hard.’ If you do, this won’t happen to you.”