NBC's Lauer Claims Breitbart Violated Conservative Principles by Breaking Weiner Story

In an interview with Andrew Breitbart on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer suggested the conservative blogger should not have broken news of the scandal involving Congressman Anthony Weiner: "Did you worry that – you know, as a conservative, you don't want government in people's bedrooms. And so did you stop and have a debate with yourself about that?"

Moments earlier, Breitbart had noted feeling some sympathy for Weiner during Monday's press conference: "I felt so unbelievably sad for this guy." Lauer responded by wondering why that sympathy didn't keep the BigGovernment.com creator from re-posting Weiner's racy tweet on the web site last week: "But if you're sad for the guy then, did you not consider that at some point you might be sad for him when you first posted that photo ten days ago?"

In response to Lauer's bizarre assertion that reporting on the scandal somehow went against conservative values, Breitbart explained: "I'm not the government. You know, he tweeted to, you know, 45,000 people that image. A person sent it to me. I can't think of a world in which that isn't news."

Later in the interview, Lauer was suspicious of a more graphic x-rated photo of Weiner that Breitbart had not released: "Is this, Andrew, some kind of x-rated insurance policy?...Because people have characterized it as something more." Breitbart replied: "I don't like to think of it that way."

Lauer pressed further, sparking this exchange:

LAUER: Under no circumstance will you release that? In other words, let's say Anthony Weiner supporters target you in some other way?

BREITBART: If Anthony Weiner decides to make this a jihad against me for his interpretation of putting me into this situation, you know what, I'll take that as a – you know, you said an insurance policy. Maybe. I can't foresee a circumstance in which I would release that. I don't think I want to put his family through that type of thing. But for instance, I've already started to hear words that Megan, the woman who came forth, people are prying through her private life. And they're-

LAUER: So would you use that photo to protect these women?

BREITBART: That's – you know, I'm not thinking of it that way, but I certainly have it in my possession. And I guarantee you he would use this against me and the people on the left side of the blogosphere would have used this against me. I could have put that out there and his career would have been over today.

In his final question to Breitbart, Lauer wondered: "Had you come into possession of photographs of a Republican congressman that were similar in nature to the photograph you received of Anthony Weiner, would you have been as quick to post that photograph?" Breitbart replied: "Yes....I'm repulsed when it's, when it's, you know, Larry Craig that's involved in these type of behaviors or Ensign, the Senator from Nevada....these guys put themselves in a blackmail-able situation."

Breitbart then added: "The problem is, is that there is the mainstream media. They've got the resources and they're usually there to cover it. My contention, it's my belief, is that there is a double standard in the media in how they treat Republicans and Democrats."


Here is a full transcript of Lauer's June 7 interview with Breitbart:

7:06AM ET

MATT LAUER: Andrew Breitbart is the conservative blogger who broke this story. Andrew, good morning. Nice to have you with us.

ANDREW BREITBART: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Truth and Technology; How Did Conservative Blogger Break Weiner Story?]

LAUER: Thirty years I've been watching news conferences, that may have been the most bizarre one I've ever seen. What was it like in the room?

BREITBART: It was electric in the room. It was completely packed. I walked in coincidentally. I had just checked into a hotel room. A reporter passed up interviewing me to rush over to the press conference and I thought, 'Well, I guess I'll go attend this press conference as well.' Walked into the room, nobody noticed me for the first five minutes. I found a place to plug in my blackberry because it had no juice left. Next thing I know there were about 50 people surrounding me, asking me questions.

LAUER: Yeah. As I tuned in to the press conference, I see you up on the podium as if it's your press conference. How did that happen?

BREITBART: I was off to the side being interviewed by about 50 people and they said, 'Get up on the stage, get up on the stage.'

LAUER: 'We can't hear you.'

BREITBART: Yeah. 'We can't hear you.' And I have laryngitis, so I went up on the stage to use the microphone. I actually said, 'Is it okay if I go on the stage?' I went up on the stage and I had no idea that they cut to live television.

LAUER: So for those who tuned in and thought, 'Here's Andrew Breitbart hijacking this press conference for his own purposes,' you would respond?

BREITBART: The camera will show you, people there will attest that they asked me to go up there.

LAUER: Alright, Anthony Weiner follows you, he heads up on stage to do what he intended to do in the first place and he laid it bare. He basically said, 'Look, those photos that you've now seen, they were me. I did tweet them. My account was not hacked. I lied to my supporters. I lied to my family members.' What am I leaving out?

BREITBART: Well, he certainly allowed for his minions and his supporters on the left side of the blogosphere to frame me as the hacker. And so I lost my Memorial Day weekend. My wife wants to kill me because I was on the phone the entire time fending off an attack that said that I was the person who hacked him and I was the person who outed and savaged the woman in Seattle that he sent the tweet to. And I chose not to mention her name in the initial-

LAUER: And so, as Anthony Weiner is up there saying, 'No, you know, mea culpa,  it's me, I'm the one who lied, I'm responsible,' there had to be this sense of vindication.

BREITBART: Oh, you think?

LAUER: Pulsing through your veins.

BREITBART: Yes, it was. But at the same time, I disagree with everything except for Israel with Congressman Weiner, and I'm telling you, in the room I felt so unbelievably sad for this guy. It was pathetic, but it was also a sad moment.

LAUER: But if you're sad for the guy then, did you not consider that at some point you might be sad for him when you first posted that photo ten days ago?

BREITBART: Well-

LAUER: Because chances are it was going to end in a room like this.

BREITBART: Well, you know, we didn't report the story based upon the image itself and the tweet itself. The moment that he tweeted that he was hacked, the moment that a Congressman claims that his computer systems have been invaded, that's a news story.

LAUER: But that's after the photo has already been posted.

BREITBART: Well, yes.

LAUER: So you have a choice when you are made aware of that photo. You can post it or not post it. Now I'm going to take you back to that moment. Did you worry that – you know, as a conservative, you don't want government in people's bedrooms.

BREITBART: Yes.

LAUER: And so did you stop and have a debate with yourself about that?

BREITBART: Well, it – he – to be honest with you, I'm not the government. You know, he tweeted to, you know, 45,000 people that image. A person sent it to me. I can't think of a world in which that isn't news. I think as you see on the cover of the New York Post and the Daily News, a Congressman sending that type of information is news. Beyond that – and I'm not one of these 'It's just about the sex' people. I think that if you're sending out images like that you are putting yourself into blackmail situations with any number of anonymous people that you're sending this to.

LAUER: In the last 12 hours I've heard some people say, 'Well, Anthony Weiner did the right thing. He stood up there in front of all of those reporters and he took the questions and the humiliation that accompanied those questions.' The fact of the matter is he was forced into that situation. He didn't choose to do the right thing. He was backed into a corner. Does he deserve any credit at all?

BREITBART: He's going to have to deal with this with his family. You know, I mean, that was an unbelievably humiliating situation. He should have probably resigned and gotten rid of, you know – that he wouldn't have had to deal with that humiliating moment. It was a sad moment. I felt awful for that guy at that moment.

LAUER: You had released other pictures earlier in the day, yesterday, that's probably what prompted the press conference in the first place. You have also said that you have another image, and you've described it as x-rated. You said you will not release that photo but you're keeping it. Is this, Andrew, some kind of x-rated insurance policy?

BREITBART: I don't like to think of it that way. I mean-

LAUER: Because people have characterized it as something more.

BREITBART: I don't know what to do. You know, if there's a place where I could go publically burn it. But you know, I've seen-

LAUER: Under no circumstance will you release that? In other words, let's say Anthony Weiner supporters target you in some other way?

BREITBART: If Anthony Weiner decides to make this a jihad against me for his interpretation of putting me into this situation, you know what, I'll take that as a – you know, you said an insurance policy. Maybe. I can't foresee a circumstance in which I would release that. I don't think I want to put his family through that type of thing. But for instance, I've already started to hear words that Megan, the woman who came forth, people are prying through her private life. And they're-

LAUER: So would you use that photo to protect these women?

BREITBART: That's – you know, I'm not thinking of it that way, but I certainly have it in my possession. And I guarantee you he would use this against me and the people on the left side of the blogosphere would have used this against me. I could have put that out there and his career would have been over today.

LAUER: Three more quick things. Do you have any evidence in your possession, any other photos, any other text, that would lead you to believe that Congressman Weiner violated the ethics rules of the House or committed a crime?

BREITBART: There are definitely leads that people have based upon public – already public communications on Twitter of young women who claim to have communications with him and these girls-

LAUER: Beyond the six that he mentioned?

BREITBART: Yes, yes. And I have not followed up with them, but this was, for the last ten days, what people were sleuthing on the internet about. And so this investigation, if he wants to open himself to an investigation, there are a lot of women.

LAUER: And just to wrap this up to put it in perspective, had you come into possession of photographs of a Republican congressman that were similar in nature to the photograph you received of Anthony Weiner, would you have been as quick to post that photograph?

BREITBART: Yes. And I've got to be honest with you. I'm repulsed when it's, when it's, you know, Larry Craig that's involved in these type of behaviors or Ensign, the Senator from Nevada. I do think that these put – these guys put themselves in a blackmail-able situation. And so the answer is yes. The problem is, is that there is the mainstream media. They've got the resources and they're usually there to cover it. My contention, it's my belief, is that there is a double standard in the media in how they treat Republicans and Democrats.

LAUER: Andrew Breitbart, who broke this story. Andrew, thank you for joining us this morning.

BREITBART: Thank you.

LAUER: I appreciate it. 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC