Katie Couric is breaking her silence on Matt Lauer’s firing from the Today show and a joke she made about her former colleague six years ago. Couric’s longtime Today co-anchor was fired amid rampant sexual misconduct allegations in late November. Now, more than a month after Lauer’s shocking firing from the NBC morning news show, Katie Couric has finally revealed that “she had no idea” of his reported behavior, and she set the record straight on an old talk show clip that made the rounds after Lauer’s firing.
In her first interview since Matt Lauer’s firing, Katie described the fallen Today show anchor as a “kind and generous colleague” who treated her with respect—so much so that a joke she once made about him was just that—a joke—because it was so out of character.
“I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew,” Couric told People.
“In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship.”
The joke that Katie Couric refers to dates back six years ago when she appeared on the “Plead the Fifth” segment on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. In the 2012 interview segment, host Andy Cohen asked Katie Couric to answer at least two of three questions honestly. In response to a “Shag, Marry, Kill” question, Couric said she would “marry” Lauer. Cohen then asked Couric, “You co-hosted the Today show with Matt Lauer for 15 years. What’s Matt’s most annoying habit?”
Katie Couric smiled and revealed, “He pinches me on the a** a lot.” Cohen then joked that he wouldn’t mind that. You can see the now-viral clip below.
Katie Couric further clarified the resurfaced joke about Matt Lauer while promoting her upcoming NatGeo show, America Inside Out with Katie Couric, at the winter Television Critics Press Association tour.
“That was a complete joke because it was so contrary to our relationship, and it was on a late night lightning round,” Katie told TCA reporters, according to Elle. “I guess I made [the joke] because it was, again, so contrary to the relationship I had with Matt which was respectful, and professional. I never had an issue, never experienced anything, never witnessed anything like that.”
Katie Couric told Entertainment Tonight that her unearthed joke about Matt Lauer is “very illustrative of the current media landscape, that something can be plucked, and then taken out of context.”
“Like, it’s a silly joke on a late night show that was just that, a silly joke, and people, I think, read into everything these days, and I think it just goes with the territory. But it was nice for me to be able to say that that was a joke. I wanted to say that earlier, but then I thought it would open up a can of worms, and I really needed time to process all of this, like I think a lot of people do when a situation like this happens.”
Katie Couric served as co-anchor of the Today show from 1991 to 2006, and Matt Lauer joined the NBC news program as her co-anchor in 1997. The duo’s easy chemistry was off the charts as they dominated the morning news for nearly a decade. When Katie Couric exited the Today show after nine years with Matt, her goodbye announcement included a sweet Wizard of Oz reference when she looked at her longtime colleague and said, “As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, I think I’m going to miss him most of all.”
Katie Couric has not revealed if she has been in contact with Matt Lauer since he was fired from his 20-year post at NBC News, but she praised current co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb for how they have handled the aftermath of the Today show shakeup.