Before Matt Lauer’s dismissal from NBC over a slew of sexual misconduct charges, the Today anchor was widely respected as one of the network’s top interviewers. But some of his interviews crashed and burned on live TV, others sparked controversy immediately afterward, and yet more went viral only after his downfall. Here are some of those cringe-worthy moments, including multiple times the 60-year-old seemed to get lecherous with his female guests.
2005: Matt appears skeptical of a Bill Cosby accuser
In 2005, long before the sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby reached a critical mass, Matt interviewed Tamara Green, one of the comedian’s very first accusers. And he asked her wince-inducing questions that seemed to put the blame on her — e.g. "Why didn't you call the police after the medication wore off?" and “What about a week later, what about days later?"
Tamara later addressed Matt’s apparent skepticism, telling Newsweek, "[Matt] kept saying, ‘If you make this accusation, you’re not going to be able to unring the bell.’ 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."
2005: Matt clashes with Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise presumably stopped by Today in 2005 to talk about his movie War of the Worlds, but he and Matt ended up in a testy debate about the virtues of psychiatry and prescription drugs vs. the virtues of Scientology. (Choice quotes from Tom: "You don’t know the history of psychiatry; I do," and "Matt, Matt, Matt, you don't even… You're glib!")
2009: Matt talks to Sandra Bullock at length about her naked body
Sandra Bullock talked with Matt about her film The Proposal in 2009, and Matt commented that it had been two years since she had graced Today. That’s all fine, right? Just wait for the creepiness…
"The major thing that’s changed since you were here last: I have seen you naked," he said, referencing her nude scene in the comedy film. "It’s now my screensaver."
2012: Matt asks Anne Hathaway about her upskirt photos
In 2012, Matt greeted Anne Hathaway by saying, "Seen a lot of you lately."
The future Oscar winner either didn’t realize what Matt was talking about or tried to skirt the topic, joking about her overexposure during the Les Miserables press tour. "Sorry about that," she laughed. "I'd be happy to stay home, but the film…"
Matt pushed the issue, however, pointing out how Anne had suffered a wardrobe malfunction in paparazzi photos a couple nights before. In a pitch-perfect rebuttal, Anne said she was sorry to "live in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants" and then segued seamlessly to the plight of her character in Les Miz.
2014: Matt asks the female GM CEO seemingly-sexist questions
When interviewing General Motors CEO Mary Barra upon her hire in 2014, Matt asked her about the perception that, as a woman and a mother, she "could present a softer image and softer face as this company goes through a tough time." Not only that, he also asked Mary if she could balance her job as CEO with her job as a parent.
2017: Matt questions Bill O’Reilly about his sexual harassment allegations
When former Fox News Bill O’Reilly host visited Today in 2017, Matt asked him about the sexual harassment charges that led to his firing. In retrospect, knowing what we know now, the exchange seems hypocritical.
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