Since Matt Lauer was fired from NBC's Today show, many of his old comments and behavior in the public eye are being reinterpreted as signs of his sexual misconduct. At Lauer's 2008 Friar's Club Roast, almost two thousand celebrities and executives gathered to share jokes at the anchor's expense. It just so happened that many of those jokes were about Lauer's aggressive sexual tendencies — especially at work.
At the time, Lauer's co-host on Today was Meredith Vieira. The TV personality is as mild as Lauer on air, but in the private roast where no cameras or recording devices were allowed, she spoke freely.
“That m----------- Matt Lauer,” Vieira began when she took the stage. Already, she reportedly had the crowd laughing.
“I am amazed that I have time for this stupidity,” she said. At the time, Vieira not only co-hosted the Today show, she also hosted Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and had a family to take care of. Vieira noted that that's a lot of balls to juggle, which led into her next joke.
“Look at Katie Couric. She juggled Matt’s balls for six years," she said. "That’s three years per ball. She squeezed those suckers so tight, she left nothing for me. Thanks, Katie,” Viera said.
Vieira wasn't the only one to make explicit jokes about Lauer and former co-anchor Katie Couric. Both Couric and Lauer himself echoed the comments, though, of course, the jokes in a roast are inherently hyperbolic.
Vieira finished off with some equally raunchy jokes about Lauer and meteorologist Al Roker having a secret romance, then looked at Lauer as she left the stage and said "I'll see you Monday, a------."
Despite the strict rules against recording at Lauer's roast back in 2008, journalists from The Village Voice discreetly jotted down some of these jokes, though they likely never imagined that they'd resurface as evidence of Lauer's habitual predation.
Even if Vieira and all the other guests who spoke at Lauer's roast were completely fabricating their jokes about Lauer's promiscuity, the fact remains that he clearly had an off-screen reputation for it. It calls into question all the shock and awe that Lauer's colleagues and superiors expressed at the time of these allegations. The American audience might have known him as a harmless, reserved figure, but the people at NBC clearly knew a different side Matt Lauer long before last month.