NBC's Matt Lauer celebrated 10 years at Today this morning and to be sure his run as co-anchor is chock full of biased interviews and liberal slants on a range of issues from the environment to the war on terror but a review of Lauer's record indicates one issue stands out as a particular obsession of Lauer's - guns. Whenever the issue of gun control was hot in the news Lauer could be counted on to push his guests for the harshest restrictions on the Constitutional right to bear arms. On September 5, 2002 Lauer asked then NRA President Charlton Heston: "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?" And when asked by an interviewer in 2000 if he could ask Bill Clinton just two questions, Lauer eschewed impeachment, declaring: "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?''
The following collection of Lauer quotes on the issue of gun control through the years demonstrates the Today show anchor's decidedly anti-gun stance.
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.
"Let's take hijacking and potential crimes out of this for a second, and I know you say you don't want to dwell on [a] worst case scenario, but pilots are human beings. They get depressed, they get suicidal, they get angry. If they're armed, isn't that a formula for disaster?" -- Lauer to the head of the Airline Pilots Association, September 26, 2001 Today.
Matt Lauer: "Let's 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 don't want it, what's to stop me from selling it to anyone I want to sell it to?...."
"And 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?"
Tennessee car dealer Greg Lambert, who gave free guns to car buyers: "I'm not responsible for the actions of other people...what we need is crime control, not gun control."
Lauer: "Yeah, but why not take away the possibility? If you give someone a CD player, they can't go out and kill someone with it...."
"From what I understand, Mr. Lambert, you're 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 that's just going too far." – Aug. 25, 2000 Today interview.
"But isn't it just a case of terrible timing, Mr. LaPierre? I mean, not coincidentally, we've had a show this morning that's been filled with a murder in Los Angeles, a murder in Florida, five people were executed in a Wendy's restaurant here in New York just last week. I mean, this doesn't seem like the time you want to be promoting guns?" -- Lauer to NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre about plans to open a restaurant in Times Square, May 30, 2000 Today.
"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 Lauer by Jeffrey Zaslow in the April 28-30, 2000 edition of USA Weekend.
"And 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 it's a good idea to be putting them in contact with guns in high school?" -- Lauer to Colin Powell in interview about expanding ROTC in high schools, July 30, 1999.
"You'll 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?" -- Lauer to Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), June 16, 1999.
"There is some fear among some people that now that school is out, and parents aren't sending their children off into what they may view as harm's way every day that there's gonna be some momentum lost on gun control. Do you agree with that?" -- Lauer in same segment to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.).
Matt Lauer: "Do you think people carrying concealed weapons might make a difference?"
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: "Licensed. I think that certainly in a reality situation that, like take, for example, what happened here on the subway in New York a few years back. Well, what are you going to do, I'll ask you Matt, when someone's on a rampage and cares not about human life and is just systematically assassinating people. Are you gonna stop ‘em with words?"
Lauer: "I guess it's always good at that point to have a gun around you. But my fear is if they're carrying a concealed weapon, what happens when they go off the deep end?" -- Exchange on NBC's Today, June 2, 1999.
"Let's bring the access of guns into this, Michael. I mean, in the city, guns, in my opinion, are seen as the tools of the criminal. But in many rural and suburban areas, guns are more part of the sporting culture. You see people with hunting rifles on their walls. You see people with gun racks in their car. Is that to blame?" -- Lauer talking about the Columbine high school shooting with Michael Guzy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 30, 1999.