Fourteen months after Ann Curry sat with a tear-stained face next to Matt Lauer on Today as he wished her a successful future, Lauer is finally fighting back.
“The way the media treated what happened with Ann Curry was a disappointing learning experience,” he told Esquire. “I was disappointed by the laziness of the media, the willingness to read a rumor, repeat that rumor, and treat it as fact. And yet, what were my options?”
“Does anyone want to see a person who’s making the money that the newspapers say I’m making complaining? No one wouldn’t had any patience for that. I wouldn’t have had patience for that. So you just shut up and go about doing your job,” said Lauer.
The Esquire feature also brought out his fatherly side: “So many times my son and I will be watching a baseball game together and a popular player hits a home run, and he’s running around the bases…my son…will look up at me and ask, ‘You think he’s on steroids?’ Heroes have been broken before his eyes so many times, and that’s disheartening.”
Lauer then made reference to his interview with Tom Cruise and the antidepressant fiasco: “When you have a sense that emotions are being used to manipulate, you have to jump in and cut (the interview) off. But when there’s real, honest emotion coming out, like when Tom Cruise got worked up over his belief system on antidepressant drugs, you have to let that go because there’s no replacing that reality. My job was to stay out of the way.”
Surrounding his supposedly gargantuan salary, the host aired his frustrations: “Over the course of twenty years that I’ve been at NBC, I have never seen the amount of money I make reported correctly by the media.”
This was his chance to clear the air, but he didn’t reveal his salary to Esquire readers.
And finally, he shared his love for connecting with others, which fueled his desire to become a journalist in the first place: “I’ve always liked the idea of walking into a cocktail party where there are different people and finding some connection with almost everybody in the room.”
The recently published Esquire piece reveals Lauer’s humanity, yet, the question remains — will Americans buy it?
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