Matt Lauer became a regular co-host of NBC’s 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, he’s 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 “manage” the “expectations” of those hoping he would be their “Savior” and “Messiah.” In contrast he’s 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 “wave of anger and energy” into office in the 2010 midterms, would then “govern in Washington with anger?”
Below are just a few examples of Lauer's bias over the years. For a more extensive collection please visit his Profile in Bias page. (video after the jump)
Co-host Matt Lauer: “For people who don’t 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?”
Former Senator Rick Santorum: “Look, I’m a conservative. Yeah, I mean, I believe life begins at conception and I believe marriage is between a man a woman....”
Lauer: “In 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. That’s not really what they are concerned about. So are you, are you barking up the right tree?”
— NBC’s Today, March 8, 2011
Sucking Up to Obama
“Fit to serve: Barack Obama photographed shirtless in Hawaii and a lot of women are giving him the presidential seal of approval.”
— NBC’s Matt Lauer starting out the Today show, December 23, 2009
“People have called you ‘The Savior,’ ‘The Messiah,’ ‘The Messenger of Change.’ 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?”
— Lauer to Barack Obama on Today, Oct. 20, 2008.
Co-host Matt Lauer: “What’s the civics lesson in this for our kids as they’re watching this on TV?”
Correspondent Natalie Morales: “Well, I think there — as a parent, there’s a huge civics lesson, and it teaches, you know, what is important about this. What are — I think you have to ask the questions, ‘What are they there for, what are the reasons behind this?’ And I think the idea of having that civil discourse is important to teach our kids and it’s something in history we’ve seen....”
— Exchange on NBC’s Today about the Occupy Wall Street protestors on October 21, 2011.
“Russia’s rush to capitalism left the vast majority scrambling to survive. For many, life is worse than it was in Soviet times.”
– NBC’s Matt Lauer in Moscow on the February 12, 2004 Today.
“Americans 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.”
-Today host Matt Lauer to Escape magazine’s Joe Robinson, a proponent of mandated vacation, June 12, 2000.
Baffled/Embarrassed by Unabashed Expressions of Liberty and Patriotism
Matt Lauer: “Two 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.”
Clip of Mel Gibson on horseback rallying his warriors in the movie Braveheart about 13th century Scots battling the British: “That they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
— NBC’s Today, December 7, 2004.
Matt Lauer: “You are expecting a greater wave of patriotism here in the United States, in this particular time, than other countries have shown when they’ve hosted the games.”
Lloyd Ward, U.S. Olympic Committee President: “I 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 world’s community and I expect to see that.”
Lauer: “But we have to also be careful and draw a line not to let our patriotism get in the way of the games in general.”
– Exchange on NBC’s Today, February 7, 2002.
Matt Lauer in Baghdad: “Talk to me...about morale here. We’ve 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?”
Chief Warrant Officer Randy Kirgiss: “In my unit morale is pretty good. Every day we go out and do our missions and people are ready to execute their missions. They’re excited to be here.”
Lauer: “How much does that uncertainty of [not] knowing how long you’re going to be here impact morale?”
Specialist Steven Chitterer: “Morale is always high. Soldiers know they have a mission. They like taking on new objectives and taking on the new challenges....”
Lauer: “Don’t 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 you’re facing and with the attacks you’re facing. What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale can be that high?”
Captain Sherman Powell: “Sir, if I got my news from the newspapers also, I’d be pretty depressed as well.”
— Exchange on NBC’s Today, August 17, 2005.
Matt Lauer: “Have 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?”
NRA President Charlton Heston: “No, I never felt that.”
Lauer: “Never wavered?”
– Exchange on NBC’s Today, September 5, 2002.
“When Lauer has to report stories such as the recent first-grade shooting in Michigan, he says, a part of him wishes he weren’t a journalist. Then he wouldn’t have to appear objective. ‘I’d love to be more opinionated about guns.’ He fears historians will describe turn-of-the-21st-century America ‘in just two words: gun violence.’ He tells of attending a party where friends discussed their office layouts – which closets they’d hide in to save their lives. ‘People at cocktail parties now talk about their personal safety. There’s something really wrong here.’....
“If he could ask President Clinton just two questions: ‘It wouldn’t be about [Monica Lewinsky]. I’d ask, “What are you going to do about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?’”
-From a profile of Today co-host Matt Lauer by Jeffrey Zaslow in the April 28-30, 2000 edition of USA Weekend.
“Today, 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. Earth’s 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.”
— Lauer hosting Countdown to Doomsday, a 2-hour June 14, 2006 Sci-Fi Channel special.