For Interviews, Exposes, All-Around Experience, it's Tough to Beat Matt Lauer

Lauer hard at work making sure everything is just right.
Lauer hard at work making sure everything is just right.
During his career Matt Lauer has contributed his share of goofy, on-air public relations work.
During his career Matt Lauer has contributed his share of goofy, on-air public relations work.

Maximizing your talent

I know this has been a long time in the making, but honest to God, I appreciate Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC's long-running Today Show. I am serious as fresh lunch meat outta the can. Lauer, a graduate of Ohio University, not only "knows the ropes" of his arena, but dictates them to others, including the daring, up and coming junior executives of NBC without flinching.

If you haven't watched the Today Show, watch it in the morning. But focus only on Matt Lauer. His machine-like delivery of script, questions, and introductions can easily be confused with his talent of professional improvisation. Lauer is that talented.

I know about the on and off--air battles involving Lauer, Ann Curry, and other notables and ask myself was all of the hoopla worth it for NBC? Frankly, no. If I were the owner of NBC and had a talent, male or female of Matt Lauer's caliber, I would be up before dawn jumping up and down thanking my God that Lauer worked for me. And yes, I would listen intently each time he wanted to discuss something with me whether it be menial or monumental. I was taught how to value and appreciate talent in my 23 years of newspaper work.

(From left), Meredith Vieira, who looks up to Lauer for advice and Lauer on-set  of the Today Show.
(From left), Meredith Vieira, who looks up to Lauer for advice and Lauer on-set of the Today Show.
Yes, Matt Lauer is hard-nosed. It takes this quality in a top-notch newsperson to get all of the facts concerning a story.
Yes, Matt Lauer is hard-nosed. It takes this quality in a top-notch newsperson to get all of the facts concerning a story.
(From left), Al Roker; Justin Beiber; Ann Curry and Matt Lauer.
(From left), Al Roker; Justin Beiber; Ann Curry and Matt Lauer.

Matt Lauer is a natural survivor

There was that celebrated time of airtime dominance by cutesy, perky Katie Couric and stoic ally, Bryant Gumble who looked as if he thought it improper to laugh while on the air. It was this team five mornings a week after week after week and then there it was. Gumble had written then-meteorologist, Willard Scott, a celebrated personality in his own right, an inner-office memo that contained some near-harsh verbiage on how Scott might "tone down" his on-air antics which Today Show audiences loved.

Wasn't long until war drums began beating and Gumble's thin-foundation of authority was not supported by NBC higher-up's for they knew that by pulling in the reins on Scott might endanger several important markets that NBC ruled. The score now stood Scott - one; Gumble - zero.

One wave of controversy, lawsuits, resignations after the other and still, Matt Lauer, who could have easily stepped onto any stage on Broadway and pulled off a major performance without that much labor and stress. Matt Lauer, I think, does not show all of his talent at once. He gives it out in doses. A very wise thing to do if one is in Lauer's tax bracket of 25 million a year.

Who can forget this classic?

Matt Lauer interesting sidenotes:

  • Lauer loves to wear socks at home and on the job. I cannnot prove this, but his socks seem to be expensive, designer socks.
  • Lauer has never revealed just how much his wardrobe budget is for the Today Show.
  • Lauer is an advocate of getting facials regularly to keep his skin hydrated.
  • Nothing pleases Matt Lauer more than to do a feature for NBC where he has to work out in the field.
  • Lauer takes physical conditioning seriously. You can tell by his muscular body.

Lauer is tough through and through

Among the many things I appreciate about Lauer is his backbone. He has a sturdy backbone when it comes to defending his stance on a topic (e.g. Tom Cruise versus Matt Lauer argument of using anti-depressants or depending on Scientology) and is not afraid to let his temper surface. Lauer is no butt kisser and never will have to depend on this self-degradation to maintain his position at NBC or whatever network he may be working.

Matt Lauer, in my personal opinion, is the newsman's newsman. Lauer knows what and what not to say or ask from guests ranging from celebrities to politicians. It has been those verbal and whispered battles on or off the air that has afforded Matt Lauer the embedded and valuable experience to maintain such a position as co-host to one of the most-powerful network shows in history: the Today Show and do it without buckling or sweating bullets that are sure to keep coming.


Other links that you might enjoy reading:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRXZ0oant6Q
www.usmagazine.com/
www.today.com/id/.../ns/.../tense-moment-cruise-calls-lauer-glib
www.people.com/people/article/

(From left), NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon, Meredith Vieira, and Matt Lauer.
(From left), NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon, Meredith Vieira, and Matt Lauer.

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Comments 4 comments

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 15 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Ken: Did your newspaper have the rule that your lede sentence shouldn't be more than 35 words? I appreciate interviewers who have this discipline in their interview questions. Too many of them use up valuable time shaping their interviewee's answer by putting to much context into their question. Instead of putting words into their mouths with a multiple choice answer, why don't they just ask simple questions like: What happened? How did you feel? What did you do next?

Those are the interviewers I like best. Old school. No GOTCHAs. The best interviewers are like the best sports officials. You hardly notice them doing their jobs.

Always enjoy your work. Keep it comin'!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Kathleen,

I cannot lie to you. In the newspaper where I worked, "we" were sometimes the "maverick of rules" and sometimes the granite slabs of secure journalism. I do agree with you on the 35-word rule. Thanks for the reminder.

And thank you for a good refresher course in how to do a good interview and as you put it, "you hardly notice them doing their jobs."

I could not have said it better, my dear friend.

Come back to see me anytime.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 15 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

too - Where's my copy editor when I need him?!

You know who is one of the best? NPR's Diane Reems. You can hear her age in her voice, but boy, is she like a razor's edge at asking direct questions with no qualifiers.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Kathleen,

I would fill that request if I were so out of practice. The trick to editing is like carving a turkey. Cut off/or out anything that does not remind you of a turkey. There you have it.

Diane Reems is one of of the best. I am not ashamed of saying that here and now.

Have a safe, cool Wednesday and thanks for your lively comment.

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