Matt Lauer is anything but happy with NBC right now. The embattled today host is reportedly irate that he had to interview controversial filmmaker John Ziegler and anchor coverage of the Jerry Sandusky interview Monday morning. Lauer, who's seen his public approval plummet since Ann Curry's messy departure from the Today Show, apparently feels he was set up to be in the middle of a negative PR storm for giving Sandusky more publicity.
As expected, Today airing the interview turned into quite the PR disaster.
Ziegler is the man who actually did the interview with Jerry Sandusky as part of a documentary he made called The Framing of Joe Paterno.
It appears that Lauer felt the same as most of us; that interviewing Sandusky was a waste of time and a disservice to the victims. Via Radar Online:
“Morale just couldn’t get any lower among the cast and crew of TODAY. Matt feels that he was set up by producers to fail by participating in the interview with Ziegler. Matt didn’t think it was a good idea to air it to begin with. Jerry Sandusky is a convicted child rapist, and Matt’s feeling was, let’s talk to the victims, and not him. However, he wanted to prove he was a team player and did it. Producers thought it would generate a lot of publicity, but no had any idea it would have garnered so much controversy."
When news of this interview first came out, we thought it would be Lauer interviewing Sandusky, not Lauer interviewing someone competing for the “most infuriating person alive” award. It is still baffling to us as to why Today thought airing the interview with Ziegler was a good idea. Irrespective of the fact that Sandusky is a sick convicted criminal still proclaiming his innocence, Ziegler also has a questionable grip on reality. From the UK Daily Mail:
"In the documentary, Ziegler calls the legal case against Sandusky “remarkably weak” and claims the sexual assault Mike McQueary said he saw was actually a “botched grooming.”
He does however, agree that Sandusky was guilty of “many, if not all, of the things he was convicted of.”
I’ll take: things that totally contradict themselves for $1,000, Alex.
Ziegler, for whatever reason, is trying to clear JoePa’s name, even though the Paterno family wants nothing to do with the man. After hearing from Ziegler, we can't blame them.
We also can’t blame Lauer for feeling like he was put in a no-win situation. If he refused the interview, he’d be in trouble with NBC execs. But by placating his bosses, he also contributed to this proverbial sh*t show that has left us sincerely questioning why Today would give national coverage to a man whose grip on the truth and reality has the consistency of squeaky foam.
Whether or not this was the breaking point for Lauer and NBC, this may mark the beginning of the end for the pair, whoever finally decides to end the relationship. Reports are already swirling about his successor, so it's only a matter of time. Hopefully whoever replaces Lauer doesn't have to deal with any more Jerry Sandusky nonsense though.