Lauer Previews Exclusive Sitdown with Karl 'The Divider' Rove on Today

On Friday's Today show NBC's Matt Lauer offered viewers a sneak peak of next week's exclusive interview with Karl Rove and if today's segment is a suggestion of what's to come expect a lot of shots taken at his former boss's intelligence and blaming of Republicans and not Democrats for a divided country. In a highlighted portion of the interview Lauer asked Rove if he was pleased by the nickname "Bush's Brain" (Rove called it "derogatory") and derisively mused: "If Bush was The Decider, you might say Karl Rove was The Divider." [audio available here]

MATT LAUER: While Bush dubbed him "The Architect" critics called him "Bush's Brain." In the privacy of your own office, behind closed doors, did you ever stop and think, "Well that's kind of flattering to me?"

KARL ROVE: No, because, look, I know him. I've known him for almost four decades. He is a really smart person. And to suggest that I was his brain is a way to be derogatory about him. It's a, it is a shorthand for a sloppy and ideological way of viewing him. 

LAUER: He helped Bush win the White House twice, and for six-and-a-half years, Rove held a unique perch in the heart of the West Wing, orchestrating the administration's political strategy. But if Bush was The Decider, you might say Karl Rove was The Divider.

BARACK OBAMA: We don't need any more of that Karl Rove politics! We need a different kind of politics!

LAUER: His critics accused him of favoring a bare-knuckle brand of politics and blamed him for a highly partisan atmosphere that divided the country.

Lauer also pressed Rove about the "swift-boating of John Kerry" as seen in the following segment as it was aired on the March 5 Today: 

MATT LAUER: Back to politics now and the ultimate White House insider Karl Rove was President George W. Bush's closest adviser. The architect of his two presidential campaigns. And Rove is opening up about his time in the White House in his memoir Courage and Consequence. It's due out next week. In it, he says President Bush would probably not have invaded Iraq if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. Karl Rove will be here for an exclusive live interview next week, but recently, we caught up with him to talk about the book, his personal life and how he became a lightning rod in America's political stage. Karl Rove was one of George W. Bush's most trusted advisers.

GEORGE W. BUSH: The architect, Karl Rove.

LAUER: While Bush dubbed him "The Architect" critics called him "Bush's Brain." In the privacy of your own office, behind closed doors, did you ever stop and think, "Well that's kind of flattering to me?"

KARL ROVE: No, because, look, I know him. I've known him for almost four decades. He is a really smart person. And to suggest that I was his brain is a way to be derogatory about him. It's a, it is a shorthand for a sloppy and ideological way of viewing him.

LAUER: He helped Bush win the White House twice, and for six-and-a-half years, Rove held a unique perch in the heart of the West Wing, orchestrating the administration's political strategy. But if Bush was The Decider, you might say Karl Rove was The Divider.

BARACK OBAMA: We don't need any more of that Karl Rove politics! We need a different kind of politics!

LAUER: His critics accused him of favoring a bare-knuckle brand of politics and blamed him for a highly partisan atmosphere that divided the country.

ROVE: Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world and Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world. That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all, but it does make them wrong.

LAUER: Rove's style of campaigning became known as Rovian politics, which some described as winning at any cost. Why are you such an easy target if you had nothing to do with any of this negativity?

ROVE: It's, it's easy to point to. I mean, I'm, I'm convenient.

LAUER: Why not point at the candidate? Why are they pointing at you as the guy who's pulling the strings?

ROVE: Look, if you really want to diminish the candidate, depict him as being the foil of his handler. This is as old in American politics as, as, as politics itself.

LAUER: While a genius to some, others blamed Rove for running campaigns filled with dirty tricks. The swift-boating of John Kerry.

(Begin ad clip)

GEORGE ELLIOT: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

AL FRENCH: He is lying about his record.

(End clip)

LAUER: Any of Karl Rove's footprints or fingerprints on that?

ROVE: No. And but, but look I knew some of the people involved in it. I have a longtime friendship with some of the people who underwrote it, so it was easy to say Karl Rove is responsible for this.

LAUER: In the CIA leak scandal, Rove was never charged with a crime, but he was confirmed to be one of two sources in a story outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. His memoir, Rove says, is a chance to set the record straight. He delves deeply into his personal life and his political partnership with George W. Bush. What was it about the two of you, you and George W. Bush, that, that meshed so well?

ROVE: You know, he's the outside man, I'm the inside man. But he is a big thinker. And you know, I liked being around him.

LAUER: He really did have a front row seat to a very controversial and interesting period in American history, and we're gonna have much more of our exclusive interview with Karl Rove Monday on Today and Tuesday, Karl Rove will join us live in studio to talk much more about his toughest moments in the White House and open up for the first time about his mother's suicide and questions about his father's sexuality. That's Karl Rove Monday and Tuesday on Today.

ANN CURRY: It's remarkable that he would reveal so much. I mean this is a man who really has been very quiet for so many years.

LAUER: Gonna be a lot of people talking about what he writes in this book.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.