While Matt Lauer’s interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were blasted by critics — and even skewered on “South Park” — sources say Lauer’s been “hung out to dry” by NBC top brass for the feeble effort.
Lauer was criticized by Clinton supporters for grilling the candidate on her email scandal and rushing the Democrat through answers on other topics, and for being too deferential to Trump. In a fundraising letter a day later, Clinton’s camp even mentioned that Lauer “fell flat.”
But a source told Page Six that “Matt was hung out to dry on this,” and that NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andrew Lack was the one calling the behind-the-scenes shots. The source said Lack was controlling the interview, including the decision to move Clinton along during certain questions and to linger on the emails.
Lauer was so bad, CNBC posted an op-ed on Thursday saying, “Following blistering criticism of [Lauer’s] interviews,” as well as Trump’s previous run-in with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, “the debate format needs to be radically revamped and the first change should be dumping the moderators.” On Wednesday, “South Park” laid into Lauer as a clueless anchor called “Matt” moderating a “commander-in-chief forum” between “Turd Sandwich” and “Giant Douche.”
After Lauer was lambasted, Lack sent a memo to NBC staffers praising the forum. “We were able to bring the two presidential nominees together for the first time and presented an important examination of what each would bring to the role of commander in chief,” he wrote. “My deepest thanks to everyone who helped pull off this remarkable achievement.”
Another TV insider said, “Lauer is used to being untouchable while others take the fall. Now he is getting a taste of his own medicine.” Another source said, “Andy Lack was trying to cover his butt, too. Apparently, he got heat for pushing the email questions.”
An NBC rep said: “Andy is very proud of what Matt and the team accomplished — not to mention the 26 million viewers it attracted.”