Matt Lauer became a regular co-host of NBCâs Today show on January 6, 1997 and while his partners have changed over the years from Katie Couric, to Meredith Vieira and most recently Ann Curry, heâs joined them in regularly serving viewers a hearty portion of liberal spin to go along with their morning cup of coffee. Over the years Lauer has treated his Democratic guests with light and frothy questions, as was the case when he asked Barack Obama how he would be able to âmanageâ the âexpectationsâ of those hoping he would be their âSaviorâ and âMessiah.â In contrast heâs hit Republicans with bitter queries about their ability to lead, like the time he asked then Senator-Elect Rand Paul if Republicans, after having rode a âwave of anger and energyâ into office in the 2010 midterms, would then âgovern in Washington with anger?â
The following is a collection of examples of Lauer sticking up for Democrats and persistently taking the liberal side on every issue from gun control to global warming:
Hating Conservatives/Wishing They Would Moderate Their Ways
Matt Lauer: âWhen you look at some of the things the Tea Party and others on the far right are asking for â no funding for Planned Parenthood, no funding for climate control, public broadcasting â does it seem to you, Senator, that this is less about a fiscal debate or an economic policy debate and they are making an ideological stand here?â
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer: âThatâs exactly right, Matt. Youâve hit the nail on the head.â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, April 6, 2011
Co-host Matt Lauer: âFor people who donât remember, Senator, your time in the Senate, how would you describe yourself in terms of the political spectrum? Some have called you an ultra-conservative on social issues. Is that fair?â
Former Senator Rick Santorum: âLook, Iâm a conservative. Yeah, I mean, I believe life begins at conception and I believe marriage is between a man a woman....â
Lauer: âIn a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 65 percent of people said they are most likely to vote for a candidate in 2012 who is strong on the economy, on the deficit, on jobs, not social issues. Thatâs not really what they are concerned about. So are you, are you barking up the right tree?â
â NBCâs Today, March 8, 2011
âCritics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They havenât been able to choose their nominee and itâs the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, âif you canât play the game the way I want to play, Iâm taking my football and Iâm going home.â How do you respond to that?â
â Lauer to Ann Coulter on Today, February 8, 2008.
âA former Cabinet member says the Presidentâs party is being held hostage by the far right....[Christine Todd Whitmanâs] new book criticizing the far right is called Itâs My Party Too....You say that todayâs conservatives are not true conservatives. Let me read you a portion: âMuch of their agenda is simply inconsistent with true conservatism. They seem to have forgotten that one of Americaâs greatest strengths has always been its ability to respect the broad range of ideas centered on a core set of values: freedom, opportunity, diversity....â When it comes to the Presidentâs agenda for his second term, things like Social Security, how much do you think itâs possible he could be held hostage by that far right?â
â Lauer to Whitman on NBCâs Today, January 27, 2005.
âThey were college classmates from the â60s, mourning the loss of a friend and their idealism....It was 1983, a time of Reaganomics, burgeoning yuppies, and the Decade of Greed.â
â NBCâs Matt Lauer on the December 30, 2003 Today show, in a story on the 20th anniversary of the film The Big Chill.
Matt Lauer: âLet me write [sic] what one reviewer wrote about you. âClancy insists on subjecting readers to a simplistically conservative political philosophy, whether or not they want it. For long stretches in this book it reads like the transcript of a Rush Limbaugh talkathon.ââ
Tom Clancy, author, The Bear and The Dragon: âObviously somebody who voted for George McGovern in 1972.â
Lauer: âYou too conservative? Does it come through on every page?â
Clancy: âI donât think so. The American people voted for Reagan twice.â
Lauer: âYou think youâre in step with the feelings of this country?â
Clancy: âIâm in step with the feelings of a couple of million readers. Iâll settle for that. You know people vote for my books with their money, as opposed to saying yes when the Gallup poll calls them up on the phone.â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, August 22, 2000.
âAnd when you talk about votes like that, that he [Dick Cheney] made while in Congress, anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, anti-equal rights, how does George Bush portray him as a compassionate conservative?â
- co-host Matt Lauer to Tim Russert, July 26, 2000.
âGovernor Bush did very well with voters on the far right of the Republican Party in South Carolina; that may have been his margin of victory. Is it necessary for you now, Senator McCain, to make that a liability for Governor Bush, to portray him as someone beholden to that wing of the party?â
-co-host Matt Lauer to John McCain, Feb. 21, 2000.
âYou said at a speech recently, you said, you know, âThe Republicans, theyâre treating me like a dog.â Thereâs a lot of rhetoric out there, coming from the Republicans toward you, coming from the Tea Party toward you. Former President Clinton said he doesnât think the Democrats, and you included, have been rigorous enough in pushing back against some of the Republican attacks. Over these next five weeks, Mr. President, do you intend to change your tone or your emotion in terms of your pushing back?â
â Matt Lauer to President Obama in a September 27, 2010 interview shown across most of NBC Universalâs networks, including NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, USA and SyFy.
âPassage of this bill and turning it into law has left this country as politically divided as I think it has been in a long time. You might be able to cite some other examples, but the vitriol, the rhetoric, the sniping, the threats â how are you possibly going to continue with any kind of legislative agenda when your opponents have said to you, âIâm not gonna cooperate with this President, with these Democrats, unless itâs a matter of national security.â How do you move on?â
â Matt Lauer to President Obama on NBC's Today, March 30, 2010
âHave you stopped to think what the Obama version of Swift Boating might be in this campaign cycle if you get to the general election? What they did to John Kerry, whatâs that version going to be with Barack Obama?â
â Lauer to Barack Obama on Today, February 19, 2008.â
Brilliant....Skilled and surprisingly self-destructive....
Despite the scandals and investigations, Bill Clinton was an incredibly popular President who connected with the American people....Under Clinton the economy boomed â deficits turned into surplus â and more than 22 million jobs were created. Along with the character flaws and the subpoenas came peace and prosperity.â
â Lauer summarizing Bill Clintonâs biography during the June 5, 2005 Discovery Channel special listing 25 finalists for the title of âGreatest American.â
âSecretary of State Katherine Harris in Florida. As you know sheâs a Republican, a Bush supporter. Warren Christopher said yesterday that her, her decision on this five oâclock deadline has the look of trying to produce a certain result in the election. Do you think, and to use a rather crude term, that her decision does not pass the smell test?â
â Matt Lauer to Gore aide Bill Daley, Nov. 14, 2000 Today.
âLetâs talk about what they are now calling, Mr. Vice President, âThe Kissâ. You heard about âThe Catchâ in that football game, this is âThe Kiss.â You really planted one on Mrs. Gore at the beginning of your speech there. What were you thinking?ââWere you trying to tell the American people that youâre really a kind of emotional guy?ââWell after watching that kiss I know how you survived 30 years, Mr. Vice President. Way to go! Itâs nice talking to you.â
â Today co-host Matt Lauer to Al Gore, August 21, 2000.
Sucking Up to Obama
âFit to serve: Barack Obama photographed shirtless in Hawaii and a lot of women are giving him the presidential seal of approval.â
â NBCâs Matt Lauer starting out the Today show, December 23, 2009
âPeople have called you âThe Savior,â âThe Messiah,â âThe Messenger of Change.â The expectations have been raised to such a level....If you are, as you just say, lucky enough to be elected the next President, are you going to have to consciously manage expectations during the first several months of your administration?â
â Lauer to Barack Obama on Today, Oct. 20, 2008.
Defending Bill Clinton
Matt Lauer: âYou talk about the loss of opportunity which frustrates Bill Clinton and also must frustrate the American people. So will the lesson that will be learned out of all this, Doris, be that maybe we go back to a time where we give less scrutiny to a Presidentâs personal life, back to the Kennedy and Eisenhower and Roosevelt years?â
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin: â....I hope that the media does go back to that earlier standard. I donât want to talk about this. None of us do. Think about how much more exciting it would be if we were talking about civil rights, education, health care...â
Lauer: âYeah, but I hope youâre right. I hope that the American people would find it more exciting to talk about health care and Social Security and not about these personal peccadilloes.â
- Lauer on May 23, 2000 Today.
âLet me end with this. How many times, sitting in front of your computer typing away stories about cigars and cocktail dresses, did you look up and think to yourself âWhy did I ever pursue the Paula Jones story?ââ
- Last question from Today co-host Matt Lauer to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff on his Lewinsky scandal book Uncovering Clinton, April 8, 1999.
âSpeaker Wright, let me start with you. When you resigned nine years ago, you had been battered by the right. You called for an end to what you called âmindless cannibalism.â Nine years later weâre hearing terms like that again and others swirling around the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Have we learned nothing in nine years?â
-Matt Lauer to former Speaker Jim Wright, who resigned over ethical problems, December 21, 1998.
âSpeaker Wright, during McCarthyâs sort of communist witch hunt, the really turning point was when one person being grilled by the Senator said âDo you have no decency.â Do you see anybody with the credibility in Washington right now to ask that same question?â
-Lauer to Wright, same show.
âRemember when the First Lady was here back in January and she talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy. You agree with a lot of what she had to say. If there is a hierarchy in that conspiracy, like a military hierarchy, where does Ken Starr fall? Is he a private, is he a general, what is he?â
-Today co-host Matt Lauer to James Carville in interview promoting his book, And the Horse He Rode In On: The People vs. Kenneth Starr, October 26, 1998.
âSenator, he brings up an interesting point. If there were no major revelations in the Starr report about all the gates -- Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater â why shouldnât Ken Starr then pick up the other portion of the tab?â
-Matt Lauer to Republican Senator Frank Murkowski, who had suggested making Clinton pay the tab for the Lewinsky probe, after a clip of White House press secretary Mike McCurry urging Starr be made to pay the cost of the probe incurred before Lewinsky, September 16, 1998 Today.
âBased on your dreams for the information age, can you give me your reaction to the type of information we are hearing in the current situation between the President and Monica Lewinsky? Is that the way you envision the information age turning out?ââBut in this particular case, do you think itâs gotten to the point where possibly there is a chance that there is too much information on this particular subject?ââAs our partner Iâm sure you watch our programming, youâre probably a news junkie like the rest of us. Do you think though that we as journalists have gone overboard on this story?â
â NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer pressing Microsoft chief Bill Gates, February 24, 1998.
âYou just heard Mr. Panetta and his comments on the proposed Senate Whitewater hearings. Polls in the past, Mr. Gingrich, have said that: a) the American people really donât understand Whitewater; and b) they really donât care about it. Is there a reason for hearings now, other than to inflict political damage on the President prior to the elections?â
â Today substitute co-host Matt Lauer interviewing Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, May 18, 1995.
Matt Lauer Wants to Raise Your Taxes
âWhen it comes to taxes, this issue of revenues, is there any way this deal gets done without the Republicans compromising somewhat on taxes?...President Obama talks about shared sacrifice. Where is the shared sacrifice going to come from on the Republican side?â
â Co-host Matt Lauer to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on NBCâs Today, July 12.
âWhy not use an increase in revenues? Tax hikes to help with that debt problem? What is the evidence that you can present that the tax cuts of the Bush era have actually accomplished their goals?...When the Bush era tax cuts were passed in 2001, unemployment in this country was 4.5 percent. Today itâs at 9 percent, just down from 10 percent. So why are the Bush era tax cuts creating jobs?â
â Host Matt Lauer to House Speaker John Boehner on NBCâs Today, May 10, 2011. In the five years after the full tax cut package was passed in 2003, the economy added more than 8.3 million new jobs.
âLike Congressman Ryan is suggesting, Medicare needs to be revamped....that affects the elderly and the poor...why shouldnât the burden be equally shared? Why shouldnât we put some of that burden on the wealthy and corporations?â
-Lauer to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on the April 13, 2011 Today show.
Co-host Matt Lauer: âDo you ever think about how much money is in politics, in political contributions, in lobbying? And wouldnât it be a great idea if we took even half of that money thatâs spent by corporations and special interests trying to influence politics and dedicated it to changing the world for the better?...What about a lobbying tax? If youâre gonna spend a certain amount of money lobbying for a special interest cause, you have to match that amount of money by giving it to help education or to fight AIDS?â
Ex-President Bill Clinton: âWell, thatâs not a bad idea.â
â NBCâsToday, September 5, 2007.
âThat cost [of a war in Iraq] is adding to the potential deficit, some $50-100 billion. Doesnât that have something to do with the Presidentâs ability to get his tax cut passed? A lot of people say, âWhy are you cutting taxes now when youâre increasing the deficit.â Shouldnât this be a time when youâre increasing taxes?â
â NBCâs Matt Lauer to CNBCâs Ron Insana on Today, March 7, 2003.
...and Spend Your Money
âA bitter battle on Capitol Hill has ended with a deep slash in federal spending. The House made more than $9 billion in cuts, hitting education and employment programs especially hard.â
â NBC anchor Matt Lauer, August 4, 1995.
Co-host Matt Lauer: âWhatâs the civics lesson in this for our kids as theyâre watching this on TV?âCorrespondent Natalie Morales: âWell, I think there â as a parent, thereâs a huge civics lesson, and it teaches, you know, what is important about this. What are â I think you have to ask the questions, âWhat are they there for, what are the reasons behind this?â And I think the idea of having that civil discourse is important to teach our kids and itâs something in history weâve seen....â
â Exchange on NBCâsToday about the Occupy Wall Street protestors on October 21, 2011.
âIâm worried if you think if thatâs a good thing [for Goldman Sachs to pay back its bailout money early]. Are they doing this because of financial stability, or might they be talking about that simply to get out from under the thumb of the federal government and be allowed to go back to running the business the way they want to run it, as opposed to the way the government wants them to run it?â
â Lauer to Obama economic adviser Christina Romer, April 14, 2009 Today.
âRussiaâs rush to capitalism left the vast majority scrambling to survive. For many, life is worse than it was in Soviet times.â
â NBCâs Matt Lauer in Moscow on the February 12, 2004 Today.
âAmericans are working more and getting less vacation time than people in any other industrialized nation....I feel strange saying, I never stopped to think about the fact there is no official U.S. policy on vacation time.â
-Today host Matt Lauer to Escape magazineâs Joe Robinson, a proponent of mandated vacation, June 12, 2000.
Baffled/Embarrassed by Unabashed Expressions of Liberty and Patriotism
Matt Lauer: âTwo thousand British moviegoers were recently polled on a very important question. What are the Top 10 Cheesiest Movie Lines of all-time?...Braveheart takes #8 with the baffling battle cry.âClip of Mel Gibson on horseback rallying his warriors in the movie Braveheart about 13th century Scots battling the British: âThat they may take our lives, but theyâll never take our freedom!â
â NBCâs Today, December 7, 2004.
Matt Lauer: âYou are expecting a greater wave of patriotism here in the United States, in this particular time, than other countries have shown when theyâve hosted the games.âLloyd Ward, U.S. Olympic Committee President: âI certainly expect the stands to be rocking. I expect the flags to be flying. And you know, the expression of patriotism is fine for any country that hosts the Olympics. We want to express our nationalism as a part of the worldâs community and I expect to see that.â
Lauer: âBut we have to also be careful and draw a line not to let our patriotism get in the way of the games in general.â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, February 7, 2002.
Matt Lauer: âIf there are flickers, as you say, of al Qaeda among the rebels, would it not be a sign to them or showing them that the United States has compassion and we are willing to use our military might to help all people?â
Michele Bachmann: âCompassion for al Qaeda?â-Lauer trying to convince Bachmann that Obama's strategy of bombing was a good way to show support for rebels on the March 30, 2011 Today show. Lauer later scrambled to clarify he meant âcivilians in Benghazi.â Bachmann pointed out to Lauer: âWell of course we have compassion for people. That is not the point.ââFor months now, the White House has rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war, and for the most part news organizations like NBC have hesitated to characterize it as such. But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted, that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas can now be characterized as civil war.â
â Lauer leading off NBCâs Today, Nov. 27, 2006.
Host Matt Lauer: âHe [Senator John Kerry] made a joke, he says he blew the joke and inadvertently sounded as though he questioned the intelligence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Look me in the eye and tell me, if, with even a fraction of your heart, you think John Kerry meant to question the intelligence of U.S. troops in Iraq.â
Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card: âWell, heâs had a past bias that would allow people to believe that....Even more significantly, itâs the Democrats that have said, âJohn Kerry stay home.ââ
Lauer: âAnd, by the way, I think a lot of Democrats should have shame on their shoulders, because they ran away from this guy, as opposed to standing up and saying it was just a mistake.â
â NBCâs Today, November 3, 2006.
NBCâs Matt Lauer: âYou admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities. Okay?â
President George W. Bush: âSo what? Why is that not within the law?â
Lauer: âThe head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law....Are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people weâre trying to protect us against?â
â Interview shown on NBCâs Today, September 11, 2006.
Matt Lauer in Baghdad: âTalk to me...about morale here. Weâve heard so much about the insurgent attacks, so much about the uncertainty as to when you folks are going to get to go home. How would you describe morale?â
Chief Warrant Officer Randy Kirgiss: âIn my unit morale is pretty good. Every day we go out and do our missions and people are ready to execute their missions. Theyâre excited to be here.â
Lauer: âHow much does that uncertainty of [not] knowing how long youâre going to be here impact morale?â
Specialist Steven Chitterer: âMorale is always high. Soldiers know they have a mission. They like taking on new objectives and taking on the new challenges....â
Lauer: âDonât get me wrong here, I think you are probably telling me the truth but a lot of people at home are wondering how that could be possible with the conditions youâre facing and with the attacks youâre facing. What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale can be that high?â
Captain Sherman Powell: âSir, if I got my news from the newspapers also, Iâd be pretty depressed as well.â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, August 17, 2005.
âBecause he did not attend any of the funerals of the fallen soldiers in Iraq, some family members felt he was not showing compassion, or a connection to the suffering that they have felt as a result of this war. Was this trip an effort to blunt that criticism?â
â NBCâs Matt Lauer to Condoleezza Rice on Today, Nov. 28, 2003. Since the war began, Bush has repeatedly met with hospitalized soldiers and with the families of those killed in Iraq.
âYou know, [Mexican] President Calderon wants a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired during the Bush administration....How can President Obama, who ran against assault weapons, how can he not deliver on that?â
â Lauer to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, April 16, 2009 Today.
Matt Lauer: âHave you ever gotten up one morning, read the newspaper or seen the news about a particularly horrific crime or event that involved a shooting and thought even for a second, I may be on the wrong side of this issue?â
NRA President Charlton Heston: âNo, I never felt that.â
Lauer: âNever wavered?â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, September 5, 2002.
âLetâs take hijacking and potential crimes out of this for a second, and I know you say you donât want to dwell on [a] worst case scenario, but pilots are human beings. They get depressed, they get suicidal, they get angry. If theyâre armed, isnât that a formula for disaster?â
-Question from NBCâs Matt Lauer to the head of the Airline Pilots Association about a plan to permit pilots to carry guns to protect their planes, September 26, 2001 Today.
Matt Lauer: âLetâs say I come down to your dealership, I buy a car tomorrow, I get my voucher, I go out and get my gun and then in a week or so I decide that I donât want it, whatâs to stop me from selling it to anyone I want to sell it to?....ââAnd so if then the person that buys that gun from me goes out and commits a crime with it, or God forbid takes a life with it, how are you going to feel at your auto dealership?â
Tennessee car dealer Greg Lambert, who gave free gun to car buyers: âIâm not responsible for the actions of other people...what we need is crime control, not gun control.â
Lauer: âYeah, but why not take away the possibility? If you give someone a CD player, they canât go out and kill someone with it....From what I understand, Mr. Lambert, youâre taking the promotion a little bit further. Even children who come to your dealership are going to get a free water pistol, and some people say thatâs just going too far.â
â Aug. 25, 2000 Today interview.
âBut isnât it just a case of terrible timing, Mr. LaPierre? I mean, not coincidentally, weâve had a show this morning thatâs been filled with a murder in Los Angeles, a murder in Florida, five people were executed in a Wendyâs restaurant here in New York just last week. I mean, this doesnât seem like the time you want to be promoting guns?â
â Matt Lauer to NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre about plans to open a restaurant in Times Square, May 30, 2000.
âWhen Lauer has to report stories such as the recent first-grade shooting in Michigan, he says, a part of him wishes he werenât a journalist. Then he wouldnât have to appear objective. âIâd love to be more opinionated about guns.â He fears historians will describe turn-of-the-21st-century America âin just two words: gun violence.â He tells of attending a party where friends discussed their office layouts â which closets theyâd hide in to save their lives. âPeople at cocktail parties now talk about their personal safety. Thereâs something really wrong here.â....âIf he could ask President Clinton just two questions: âIt wouldnât be about [Monica Lewinsky]. Iâd ask, âWhat are you going to do about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?ââ
-From a profile of Today co-host Matt Lauer by Jeffrey Zaslow in the April 28-30, 2000 edition of USA Weekend.
âAnd General Powell, one of the aspects of the program that I think may get some attention is that there is training in riflery, in marksmanship here. I understand they use .22 caliber rifles. At a time when we are so sensitive, it seems, to the connection between young people and guns, do you think itâs a good idea to be putting them in contact with guns in high school?â
-Today co-host Matt Lauer to Colin Powell in interview about expanding ROTC in high schools, July 30, 1999.
âYouâll start debate on the youth violence bill today. That, of course, comes up with tougher punishments for youths who commit crimes with guns. But then you will deal with the actual gun bill. Why talk about the penalties for guns before you talk about the guns themselves?â
-Today co-host Matt Lauer to Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), June 16, 1999.
Co-host Matt Lauer: âThe book is called The World Without Us, and it asks the question what would happen to planet Earth if human beings were to suddenly disappear....And really itâs all about trying to figure out how long it would take nature to reclaim what weâve created.â
Co-host Meredith Vieira: âThe mess.â
Lauer: âHow long it would take nature to fix the mess weâve made?â
â Teasing upcoming segment on NBCâs Today, September 4, 2007.
âA controversy in Washington over what literally could be the end of the world as we know it. Did the Bush administration freeze out scientists trying to sound the alarm on global warming?â
â Lauer on NBCâs , January 31, 2007.
Matt Lauer: âFrom your point of view, if you were to run for President you could take this issue [global warming] to the next level, even during just a campaign. And if you were fortunate enough to win the presidency, youâd sit in the most powerful office in the free world with a real chance to make â you could be in a position to save the planet, without putting too much emphasis on it. Wouldnât that be enough of a reason to run for President for you?â
Former Vice President Al Gore: âWell, I appreciate the impulse behind the question. I am not planning to run....â
Lauer: âBut as someone who feels as passionately about the subject as you do, and your documentary is evidence of that, why pass up the opportunity to have that world stage again?â
â Exchange on NBCâs Today, December 6, 2006.
âToday, life on earth is disappearing faster than the days when dinosaurs breathed their last, but for a very different reason....Us homo sapiens are turning out to be as destructive a force as any asteroid. Earthâs intricate web of ecosystems thrived for millions of years as natural paradises, until we came along, paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. Our assault on nature is killing off the very things we depend on for our own lives....The stark reality is that there are simply too many of us, and we consume way too much, especially here at home....It will take a massive global effort to make things right, but the solutions are not a secret: control population, recycle, reduce consumption, develop green technologies.â
â Lauer hosting Countdown to Doomsday, a 2-hour June 14, 2006 Sci-Fi Channel special.