Kanye West’s ‘Today’ interview with Matt Lauer -- who, if anyone, is the villain?


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Adjusting one’s internal clock to a new time zone takes about one day for each hour, experts say, so in theory we all should have recovered from Sunday’s switch to standard time by about, say, Tuesday.

But if Matt Lauer‘s ‘Today’ interview with Kanye West, and West’s reaction to the interview, and Lauer’s reaction to West’s reaction are any indication of how ‘adjusted’ we all are so far, let’s boost that revovery time to at least a week, shall we?


West -- who’s been moving in and around former President Bush as the performer promotes his new album, ‘W’ promotes his memoir and that Hurricane Katrina comment gets shoved back in the spotlight -- appeared to choose his words carefully and take the ‘Today’ interview seriously. He was also upset by videos played while he answered questions on Wednesday, snapped mildly in the studio and then sent off a series of Twitter messages critical of his experience on the show.

Before saying Lauer tried to force his answers in a ‘brutal’ way, West wrote, ‘I don’t mess with Matt Lauer or the Today Show ... and that’s a very nice way for me to put it!’ The series of Wednesday tweets was still visible @kanyewest Thursday to those who weren’t logged in on Twitter.

During the interview, Lauer summed up -- some might say undercut? -- West’s lengthy, nuanced discussion of motivations and consequences as, ‘We’re human, we make mistakes, but we have to learn from our mistakes.’

After Part 1 of the piece aired Thursday, Lauer referred to West’s tweets, giving a somewhat miffed addendum that the show hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary by running video during the interview. Addressing criticism from one of West’s nine ‘Today’-related tweets, Lauer aired teaser footage showing the rapper reacting as ‘Today’ played footage of him and Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, framing that moment as the core of Kanye’s criticism.

All we can say is, touchy, touchy, touchy, ladies.

Since we were gifted with that extra hour earlier this week, let’s take a few minutes to review what West said when asked what he would say to Bush if the two agreed to meet. (Oh yeah, that question was asked after the host prompted West to watch footage from Lauer’s Bush interview with the sound off, specifically so West could experience the look on the ex-president’s face.)

‘I would tell Bush, in my moment of frustration, that I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist,’ West said.


‘And you’re sorry -- ,’ Lauer prompted.

‘Yeah, I’m sorry for -- ,’ West said, then stopped to think.

‘I think I get the point,’ Lauer said.

But Kanye actually hadn’t yet made his point.

‘I want to give it the exact perfect wording, because everything I say gets taken and drawn into headlines, and I’m here to man up to different mistakes I made, and speak to the moment when I pegged George Bush as a racist,’ West said.

‘I came here to say that I made mistakes, that I’ve grown as a person, and it’s not as easy as boxing someone into a villain role or into a race role. I did not have the information, enough information in that situation, to call him a racist. That might have been the emotions I felt, but me being a rational, well-thought-out, empathetic human being and thinking about it after the fact, I would have chosen different words.

‘Even in these times when I was considered to have done something so wrong, my motivation was from a good place. Maybe mistimed, maybe not the right wording, not using or realizing the power of my words and the way they would stop the Internet. But nonetheless, that it’s very pure and from a good place.’

So there you have it, West’s words as full as NBC presented them, not simply drawn up into a headline. Lauer also rolled video in another interview with Bush, setting up the ex-pres to react to the first part of West’s ‘moment of frustration’ comments that aired Thursday.

‘I appreciate that,’ Bush said.

Thoughts on the interview? The last time we checked, ‘We do it all the time’ didn’t necessarily mean ‘it’ was right. Watch the video, vote in the poll, and tell us more in comments.



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-- Christie D’Zurilla