NBC Counters Criticism of Matt Lauer's Clinton Ties Ahead of Candidate Forum

The 'Today' anchor is set to host the first joint candidate event of the general election with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
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Matt Lauer

A since-deleted web page on the Clinton Global Initiative site touting several prominent TV anchors as "notable members" is creating controversy for NBC News' Matt Lauer. Several websites have seized on the CGI's assertion ahead of a Sept. 7 forum with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which Lauer will moderate.

In fact, Lauer has never been a member of CGI, nor has he donated any money to the organization. (ABC News' George Stephanopoulos had to recuse himself from moderating primary debates after it came to light last year that he has donated to the Clintons' foundation over the years.)

It's unclear why CGI seemingly took it upon itself to list several news personalities as "members"; Anderson Cooper, Maria Bartiromo, Thomas Friedman and Christiane Amanpour also were name-checked on the since-deleted page.

But sources at NBC News tell The Hollywood Reporter that the only proximity Lauer has come to CGI was in 2011 when he interviewed former President Bill Clinton from the organization's conference in New York. But while the interview was done at the Manhattan hotel hosting the Clinton Foundation, it was conducted for the Today show, not as part of the conference.

"Matt Lauer was not and is not a Clinton Global Initiative member," an NBC News spokesperson tells THR. "He interviewed President Clinton from a CGI conference for the Today show's live broadcast, not for the conference."  

Lauer is not the only anchor to have been dogged by the web page. Cooper's inclusion was cited last fall as he was moderating primary debates on CNN.

Lauer will host the Commander-in-Chief forum on Sept. 7 in New York. It is being presented by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and will have Clinton and Trump separately answering questions about national security, military affairs and veterans issues in front of an audience of members of the military.