Matt Lauer gave his first interview since his Today Show firing on Tuesday, saying that he is being taken advantage of.
Lauer has reportedly been trying to finalize the purchase of a large property in New Zealand since last year, before his explosive sexual assault and harassment scandal broke. In an interview with Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint, he explained that he had purchased a lease on the massive rural getaway from the government, with the understanding that farm operations would continue and that hikers would still have recreational access to the land.
Now, however, Lauer says the government is trying to change the parameters of their agreement, and he believes it is all because of his tarnished public image.
"I think this is why this fight has been chosen now," he told host John Campbell.
Lauer was subjected to a "good character test" in order to get the property, but that was before reports broke that he had a long history of sexually harassing Today Show staffers.
Now, New Zealand's Walking Access Commission and Department of Conservation want an easement on a 49 kilometer-long road that cuts through his land. These groups claim that, since Lauer is only leasing the land from the government, the public should have greater access to it.
"This easement that's been proposed is being proposed to solve a problem that does not exist, and that's the misinformation that's out there and it's out there on purpose," Lauer said. The former news anchor was calling in from New York, and he said that no one had been shooed off of the 26,500-acre property.
"Show me the logs of the people, of Walking Access [Commission] and other people, of all the people who they say have been denied?" he said. "They don't exist."
"I don't know what the problem [is] they're trying to solve because we have never denied people access who have gone through the correct procedure and called the station and said they were prepared to be on the road and properly equipped," Lauer said.
While he felt that the easement was an attempt to capitalize on his situation, Lauer claimed that the proposal would cause genuine danger of its own as well.
"The easement itself would create a problem," he said. "All of a sudden we would have no way of knowing who's back there. One of the directors of one of the groups said it would be carefully managed, well by who? Is there going to be someone from Walking Access Commission sitting on the side of the road, or are the people that farm that property going to have to sit there and count every person who goes back there and what's going to happen when they get back there and they don't come back out. Are we supposed to stop farming that land and go look for them?"1comments
Lauer purchased the property for $13 million, and he said that he would consider accepting compensation in exchange for granting the easement.
"I would certainly explore that option," he said. "I would explore that option, as I think anybody would."