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Since the news that NBC News had fired Matt Lauer for sexual misconduct, dwellers on the internet have begun to dig up old interviews with celebrities that hint at the inappropriate behavior that apparently took place behind closed doors.
One of those instances is Lauer’s interview with Kanye West in 2010, in which he questioned West about whether or not he was sorry for saying George W. Bush doesn’t care about Black people. The infamous moment was caught on camera during Hurricane Relief telethon and Bush later said in a memoir that it was one of the worst moments of his presidency.
While the interview doesn’t allude to any sort of sexual assault on Lauer’s behalf, it’s the perfect portrayal of how Lauer was reportedly coercive and abusive of his power as a network TV host.
The interview was clearly uncomfortable for West, who said he went to NBC to apologize to Bush for his phrasing of words on live television. West looks like he’s trying to be humble, but Lauer presses him to try to make him emotional.
At one point—after West has already apologized—Lauer replays the tape of Bush talking about West and asks him to “look at his face” to see how emotional Bush became.
“I didn’t need you guys to show me the tape to prompt my emotions,” West said. “I’m saying y’all don’t have to do the TV stuff with me, this is the real thing.”
Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable moments occurs when Lauer told Kanye he crossed a line when he shifted from voicing frustration about Hurricane Katrina to accusing the federal government of not doing enough because of race.
The look on West’s face shows that he probably didn’t agree that it was wrong to make that accusation, but he knew he was being baited by Lauer.
“I don’t want to speak on the word ‘regret,’ and I think a lot of things that happened in America were because of race,” West said. “That’s just the way this country has been built and the struggles we’ve had… It’s a way bigger conversation than that.”
During the segment, Lauer even discusses the tweets West posted after their interview, saying he was upset that NBC played the tape of West saying Taylor Swift didn’t deserve to win a VMA in 2009.
holy shit Kanye West tried to warn us in 2010 pic.twitter.com/ytQG2ztu6b— Lane Moore (@hellolanemoore) December 1, 2017
“How am I supposed to talk if you’re gonna run this thing in the middle while I’m talking?” Kanye asked during the interview.
Lauer argued during his segment that running audio from moments like the VMAs is a normal thing that broadcast journalists do regularly.
After the interview, West tweeted about how uncomfortable the interview had been.
“I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very misused,” he said.
Twitter users are saying these tweets show that West had been trying to warn everyone about Lauer all along.
Didn’t Kanye West tweet something about Matt Lauer? Yeezus sees the future ✌️ pic.twitter.com/kC9wLt1InK— KimKKanyeWest (@OgechiJaiyesimi) November 30, 2017
I had no idea about Matt Lauer but I do know that I have hated his guts since the day I watched this video where he tries to brow beat Kanye West into apologizing to George W. Bush: https://t.co/e5ZMYEzWRu— Ben Brock Johnson (@TheBrockJohnson) November 30, 2017
i never forgot this insulting, leading, paternalistic, patronising interview lauer did with kanye about bush https://t.co/fuPIm1wV8p— Abigail Ulman (@abigaileulman) November 29, 2017
It looks like West was right about him after all.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.