From Hard-Hitting Interviews to a Troubling Departure, the Rise and Fall of Matt Lauer

Playing Highs and Lows of Matt Lauer’s Career on ‘Today’

Since Matt Lauer replaced Bryant Gumbel as the face of the Today show in 1997, his time on the morning show has been filled with highs and lows.

Lauer, who was dismissed from NBC Wednesday, got high marks for his over-the-top Halloween costumes each year, but found himself making headlines with contentious interviews like his 2005 exchange with Tom Cruise about prescription meds like Ritalin.

The actor called him “glib” and said Lauer didn’t know what Ritalin was. 

“It's very impressive to listen to you; it's obvious you've done your homework,” Lauer told the Mission: Impossible star. 

“Just knowing people who are on Ritalin isn't enough," Cruise said while pointing at the host. "You should be a little bit more responsible."

“I'm not prescribing Ritalin, Tom,” the host fired back.

Another awkward interaction came in 2012, when he gave Ann Curry a bizarre forehead kiss as she made a tearful goodbye. There was speculation that Lauer orchestrated Curry's abrupt departure.

Her supporters were celebrating Lauer’s firing Wednesday, tweeting their support for Curry.

He made a reported salary of $20 million a year at NBC and was regarded as the face of the network.  

“Everyone knows what the Today show is. Everyone knows who Matt Lauer is,” Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times told Inside Edition. “He's the biggest star of NBC News — the program that brings in the most advertising revenue about $500 million a year.”

Last year, Lauer came under fire for grilling then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a debate with Donald Trump. He was accused of being harder on her than her Republican opponent. 

Lauer also sat down with Bill O'Reilly, right after he got the boot from Fox News over the summer, following allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Two months after that interview, the tables would be turned on Lauer.

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