Matt Lauer's dismissal from NBC came as a surprise to many, until the revelations about his behavior as an employee of the network hit the news. In the last few weeks, stories about the longtime TV anchor's sexual misconduct have flooded the media. So, watching even 10 seconds of this creepy Matt Lauer interview with Sandra Bullock should give you a good idea of why. The actor visited Today to promote her film The Proposal, which was a zany romantic comedy that starred Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, and Peak Resurgence Betty White. So why Lauer chose to spend the 2009 interview repeatedly discussing Bullock's nude scenes is...unknowable, really.
If you've managed to shield yourself from Lauer-adjacent news, know that in addition to literally having a button under his desk that would automatically lock his doors (like if Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec were also a malicious Bond villain), Lauer is accused of alleged sexual assault, harassment, and similar claims. It's disturbing to watch him interview Bullock over a film as innocuous as The Proposal and manage to make her morning talk show appearance four straight minutes of him talking about her naked body. It's gross. It's inappropriate. It's also heartbreaking. If this is how he conducted a routine interview with an established star plugging her madcap rom-com, how did he talk to anyone else? How would he address an unknown actor, or even a coworker, for instance?
Also, from an interview standpoint, this is a bad one. What do audiences learn about The Proposal from Lauer's questions? What does Bullock get to share with the audience about the film, or about her experience? Lauer has a responsibility as a television anchor and journalist to educate the Today audience about the movie. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity in every conceivable way. And that's why he's been let go from the network. Just eight or so years too late.
In Nov. 2017, NBC formally fired Matt Lauer from all of their programming. They're scrubbing any reference to him from their websites and other media. This swift action is kind of promising. Every single day, news breaks about an actor or anchor or politician whose alleged sexual misconduct was accepted as an occupational hazard by his coworkers, employees, et. al. Some days, it's almost impossible to watch the news at all, particularly for survivors of sexual assault, for whom this is especially triggering. NBC saying "so long, sucker" (in so many words) to Matt Lauer is a relief. Or it would be, at least, if he were taking it at all seriously. As Page Six reported on Dec. 6, the disgraced anchor just wants to take a payout, play golf, and live a quiet life in the Hamptons. He's clearly rethinking his actions, and looking back at past interviews where he humiliated women on camera.
For too long, actors promoting their work were subjected to creepy interviews like this one. Without Lauer, at least, this should begin to stop. The industry's culture of abuse is no longer an insidious open secret; everyone knows it now, and it's on every person to enforce this change. It's a good thing that Matt Lauer left NBC. It's hurtful that this creepy interview from 2009 even exists at all, and how relatable it must be to so many actors Lauer and others in power put in compromising situations. May 2017 be the last time anyone thought they could get away with this.