Today show co-host Matt Lauer fired back at the National Enquirer this week, saying that reports that he cheated on his wife were ‘ridiculous’ and ‘offensive’.
The National Enquirer published a story this week that said that Lauer’s extramarital activities led to the couple splitting up and that Lauer had left the family home.
Specifically, the report claimed that Lauer had gone ‘wild’ in Vancouver while covering the winter Olympics for NBC, extended his stay past the point he was needed for Olympics coverage, and that his wife Annette heard all about it from a Today Show staffer.
Lauer, with his statement this week, totally dismissed the report and said that he is living happily with his family in their apartment, and has not left his wife.
The logical next question, then, is whether or not Matt Lauer will sue the National Enquirer for reporting an embarrassing and potentially career damaging story such as this if it is not true.
The National Enquirer for years was known as the ‘lowest of the low’ when it came to tabloid journalism. In recent years, however, the Enquirer has undeniably gained credibility. It has broken the Tiger Woods and John Edwards scandals, for example, and has not had a lawsuit filed against it in decades.
But if Matt Lauer is telling the truth when he says that the National Enquirer story is not true, then he, and presumably his network, must be furious and worried that the story could damage his reputation as the wholesome Today Show host. If the story about is without merit, then it would be logical that Matt Lauer would file a lawsuit, if not for the money, then to clear his name in the court of public opinion.
The likelihood, and size, of any potential lawsuit would be tied to the question of how much damage Lauer’s reputation will take in the eyes of the American viewing public.
The Today Show relies upon a predominantly female audience in the morning and is in many ways ‘comfort food’ television. It is not the time of day when people want to be confronted with tawdry personal behavior, and women in particular may resent the idea that Lauer has been cheating on his wife. If the damage is great enough to Lauer’s reputation, and, by extension, the Today Show franchise, it would not be surprising if Lauer sues the National Enquirer for libel.
This assumes, of course, that Lauer did not commit adultery and that the National Enquirer published a false story.
Source: Staff Reporter, “Matt Lauer: I’m still married and I didn’t cheat on my wife”, vancouversun.com