Have you ever watched something on live television and wondered, “was that as awkward in person as it was to watch?” I know I certainly have. Talk shows, late-night shows, daytime political chat – they all have the potential to make things on screen feel awkward, and they almost always give us something to talk about.
One of the longest-running morning news programs is the Today Show, which still airs to this day. The show has a history of producing stories that make viewers cringe. Through thick and thin, this program has managed to stay on air since 1952. The Today Show is a mixture of news and banter and has managed to have a ton of awkward moments for viewers to see.
How America Looks
No surprise that the Today Show is a show that resembles the make-up of America. They have featured some fantastic guests, who come on as honorable hosts on a segment here and there. The United States of America is comprised of people who look and think differently from each other, and Today tries to highlight that.
This program runs daily and has different segments with different hosts. Between TODAY, Hoda & Jenna, 3rd Hour of TODAY, Weekend TODAY, and Sunday TODAY, this show is filled with the news we need, as well as some other exciting twists and turns that contribute to genuinely entertaining television. Here are some of the cringiest moments from this show.
Jon and Kate Plus… How Many?
Kate Gosselin, one of the parents at the center of Jon and Kate Plus 8, is the queen of cringe. When I say that, I mean, she’s got a history of making everything about her, and she most certainly puts on a show through and through whenever she makes a public appearance. Her time on the Today show with her daughters is no different.
Kate Gosselin brought her then-13-year-old twins to “clear the air” about what they had experienced while filming their show. Their segment, titled “Growing Up Gosselin,” was meant for the girls to reflect on their childhood. Cara and Mady, the 13-year-old twins, were uncomfortable the whole time and didn’t want to speak.
Mom, Don’t Speak For Me
When Savannah Guthrie asked Mady how she was doing and how she enjoyed her family life, she nearly went silent. “Um…” she said before going completely silent. Being the stage-mom personality that she is, Kate intervened and took it upon herself to pressure her daughters into speaking.
Kate Gosselin snapped her fingers at her daughter. “Mady — your words. It’s your chance. Spit it out.” Not to criticize anyone’s parenting style, but that definitely does not feel like the right way to get your daughters to speak, on live television, no less. True to form, Kate interjected rudely.
Speak For Yourself
Kate Gosselin clearly can’t wait a beat to let her daughters speak for themselves – she saw their answers as a reflection on her image, and she would not allow them to dull her shine. Gosselin managed to do most of the talking, but not before tearing into her children first, with all the world watching.
“This is the most wordless I’ve heard of them all morning. I don’t want to speak for them, but Mady, go ahead. Sort of the things you said in the magazine, that years later, they’re good, they’re fine. Go for it, Mad. It’s your chance.” Her daughter didn’t have much of a response, beyond, “no, you just said it all.”
Even though Kate continued the rest of the interview, she felt the need to say that her daughters agreed to the appearance on their own. “It’s not like I forced them to do it,” she claimed. That’s not how it looks to us, Kate… They didn’t seem like they wanted to be on the show or even associated with you!
We could open this can of worms and keep digging into Jon, Kate, and their eight children (who, as far as we’re concerned, are the real superstars for putting up with cameras in their personal space while they matured throughout the years). Not long after this interview, Gosselin’s show went off the air.
Tom Cruise is already known for being a complex personality, or at least he has been in recent years. In 2005, Cruise caused an uproar in his interview with Matt Lauer, after Brooke Shields’ name was mentioned. Cruise and Shields had previously had a spat in public, primarily because Cruise just had to offer his opinion where it wasn’t welcome.
Cruise and Shields previously argued over her use of medications to combat her battle with postpartum depression. Despite never going through postpartum depression himself, Cruise felt that his opinion was necessary. Shields bit back at Cruise, telling him to “stick to saving the world from aliens, and let women decide what treatment is best for them.”
When Cruise appeared on Today to promote his movie War of the Worlds, Matt Lauer prompted him to start a conversation about the whole Brooke Shields tiff. Cruise’s attitude changed immediately, like a man who doesn’t want to be challenged on his ideas, even when he knows he is wrong.
Cruise instantly started referring to psychiatry as a “pseudo-science,” then went on to absolutely drag the world of antidepressants. “All it does is mask the problem… There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.” Wow, Tom Cruise – I wish I could say I’m shocked, but I am far from it!
Lauer Wasn’t Done
Matt Lauer wasn’t going to let Tom Cruise get away with spreading misinformation. He pried and got more out of him. Lauer asked him, “So, postpartum depression to you is … psychological gobbledygook?” to which Cruise responded, “That’s an alteration of what I’m saying; I’m saying that drugs aren’t the answer.”
“But a little bit what you’re saying, Tom, is you saying you want people [like Shields] to do well — but you want them to do well by taking the road that you approve of…” Cruise stared at him in disbelief before he said, “No. No, I’m not.” To make matters worse, his girlfriend at the time, Katie Holmes, was sitting in the audience.
The Clinton Files
Interviewing a government official is a pretty big deal. Interviewing a president is basically the best of the best and having the opportunity will make you want to bring your A-game. When Craig Melvin reminded former President Bill Clinton about the #MeToo era, President Clinton didn’t have the best response.
Of course, being told that “you should have resigned” is not the best way to get a politician to want to participate in your interview. Melvin asked a hard-hitting question: “Through the lens of #MeToo now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?”
“Look at What I’ve Done for Women!”
Clinton would not allow this reporter to shed a negative light on him, even if he deserved it. “Nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he said. “I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you, typically, have ignored gaping facts … and I bet you don’t even know them.”
Then, Clinton methodically defined what he did for women, claiming that “two-thirds of the American people sided with [him]” when he was dealing with the fallout from the Lewinsky scandal. It doesn’t sound like he was doing himself any favors in this interview.
They Didn’t Do It, Neither Will I
When Melvin asked President Clinton if he ever apologized to Lewinsky, he replied with, “I apologized to everybody in the world!” Even though he admitted to never speaking with Lewinsky directly, he did apologize publicly – which still is not the same thing, right?
When Melvin pried and asked if a private apology was in order, Clinton was not having it. Clinton responded with, “You think President Kennedy should have resigned? Do you believe President Johnson should have resigned? Someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions.” This didn’t help his image.
Matt Lauer’s reputation has been shot down from time to time – though, to be honest, he got himself into many of those situations. He’s been called creepy, and there are quite a few examples to prove that. In 2012, Anne Hathaway had a pretty significant wardrobe malfunction at a movie premiere, and Lauer jumped on to talk about it.
While promoting her film Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway was getting out of an SUV and accidentally flashed paparazzi that she wasn’t wearing any underwear. Oops! It sounds like a typical Hollywood wardrobe malfunction, right? Well, Lauer saw the opportunity to be creepy and swooped in like a seagull looking for food on the beach.
Hathaway Bites Back
He opened the interview with a sly, not-quite-subtle comment; “Seen a lot of you lately,” he creepily said. Hathaway was not going to sit back and let him make her feel bad or uncomfortable for what happened, so she fired back at him. “Sorry about that. I’d be happy to stay home, but the film.”
Now, it is always easier to say that we’d just bite back at someone being creepy, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to respond to comments that make you feel uncomfortable. Luckily, Hathaway proved to be the queen she is and would not allow him to get away with his crude behavior.
Lauer stated, “Let’s just get it out of the way… you had a little wardrobe malfunction the other night. What’s the lesson learned from something like that, other than you keep smiling, which you always do?” Hathaway was calm, cool, and collected – just moments before she nearly bit his head off.
“It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One… that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and, rather than delete it and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants … Yeah, so, um, let’s get back to Les Mis.”
Matt Lauer, Why Are You Like This?
When Matt Lauer was fired from Today in 2017 due to sexual harassment allegations, an interview with Sandra Bullock started to make headlines. Nothing will make you feel like he’s a slimy guy more than this interview. Much like his interview with Anne Hathaway, Lauer knew what he wanted to discuss with her.
Back when Sandra Bullock was promoting her film The Proposal, Lauer could not wait even a moment to ask her about the nudity in the movie. She opened up the interview by saying it’s been about two years since she was last on Today, to which he responded with something truly horrifying.
Matt Lauer, Do You Think Before You Speak?
He started the interview by stating, “the major thing that’s changed since you were here last? I have now seen you naked.” Sandra Bullock is a true female superhero who would not take a nasty comment from Lauer lightly. She took a moment to collect her thoughts and promptly replied.
Replying with a smile on her face, she said, “And I am so sorry about that. Were you able to sleep afterward?” Lauer made some awkward small talk and smiled, mumbling something about his screensaver or some other mundane topic. He broke eye contact with her, but Bullock was only getting started.
Bullock Bites Back
“Why are you looking down?” Sandra Bullock asked the show host. Lauer said that he was looking at his “notes,” but Bullock could see right through that. “Your notes are not over here,” she said. “…You went like that [implying he was gazing at her chest].” The two chatted for a bit about the scene before Lauer got to the “real” questions.
It seems that once a creep, always a creep. As if the rest of the conversation wasn’t enough, Lauer ended the interview in the most tone-deaf way he could; “Did I mention you have a nude scene in this movie?” Wow, Lauer. Did you learn nothing from being totally owned by her before?
Omarosa vs. Savannah
Omarosa Manigault Newman and Savannah Guthrie had a stressful moment of stress on screen with the rest of the Today Show staff watching. Manigault Newman claimed to be a whistleblower in the 45th Presidential Administration, and she was not going to be remembered as anything less.
She would not let Savannah Guthrie dim her shine as the interviewer spit out questions in rapid-fire movements. Manigault Newman would not be cut off, and this former Apprentice reality star was not going to let her background and dismissal from the White House communications team get in the way.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, most often known just as Omarosa, appeared on the reality show The Apprentice and went on to work in the 45th Presidential administration, working as a White House communications team member. Much like many others from the administration, she was let go in a scandalous fashion.
When Omarosa was let go from her White House communications team position, she wrote a scorching review of her time with her former boss and administration. Guthrie honed in on what she believed would be the hardest-hitting questions, but Omarosa wasn’t going down without a fight.
Savannah Guthrie asked Omarosa about the numerous allegations made against the White House officials at the time. Guthrie asked her if the president “lies often,” to which Omarosa replied after some time, “absolutely.” Guthrie saw this as an invitation to start hounding Omarosa with questions to try and catch her off guard.
Guthrie got right to it, asking, “Then why do you work for him?” Omarosa was not pleased and instantly bit right back at her. “Savannah, slow down … You don’t have to ask ten questions in one second. It’s okay.” They had some uncomfortable back-and-forth for a while, with Guthrie criticizing Omarosa’s actions and Omarosa trying to control everything herself.
Burt Reynolds’ Strange Comments
Just six months before he passed away at age 82, actor Burt Reynolds made some rather strange comments in his interview with Today’s Hoda Kotb. There is a chance that he had already started to lose his marbles (as if he had them to begin with), but he began to make some weird comments we can’t move on from.
Reynolds made some jokes, on-air, of a more sexual nature (or so it seemed) to Hoda Kotb. While he was promoting the 2017 film, The Last Movie Star, Kotb opened the interview by asking how his morning was going. He replied, “great, since you left me — it was what an hour ago, wasn’t it? You got home all right?”
Hoda’s Awesome Response
If she was thrown off, Hoda Kotb held herself well. She praised his comedic timing and proceeded to ask him other questions. One of those questions was, “who do you consider to be the love of your life?” Naturally, Reynolds had something witty to say that would sweep Kotb off her feet… and confuse her simultaneously.
Reynolds responded with, “You’re naughty; you really are. I’m dead in the water, no matter what I say. Well, she was 7 when I fell in love with her.” Of course, his publicist and everyone around had a brief moment of panic while he paused; “Stage 7, for about 11 years. I would say Sally [Field].”
Embracing Burt’s Weirdness
When a sweet, older man joins you and your team for your morning show, the best thing to do is embrace him for all his weirdness. Kotb ended the interview by praising him as she had before – “Well, Burt, we love you. You are a legend, and it’s an honor… When we were talking to different people and saying you were coming, everyone had the same reaction — they were just like, ‘Wow.'”
When Kotb ended the interview, she thanked him for coming. Based on how the rest of the interview went, she was less surprised to hear his closing remarks. “I am so proud of you for not having your lips larger.” I wonder if that’s the weirdest interview that she has conducted!
Guthrie and Kardashian’s Common Ground
Savannah Guthrie appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen and admitted that there was one interview she wishes she could redo. She told Cohen that she wishes she could re-interview Khloe Kardashian because she would have done things a bit differently.
When Khloe Kardashian appeared on Today, Savannah Guthrie was new to her position. She felt pressured to give a perfect interview, even if it meant questions that would make people feel uncomfortable. As a result, she posed the paternity question to the Kardashian sister, which caused many problems.
Savannah Pushed Too Far
Guthrie saw it as her place to start probing Kardashian about who her real father was. In her interview, Guthrie later told Andy Cohen that “there had been these rumors that her father, Robert Kardashian, wasn’t really her father.” Guthrie claimed that she didn’t really want to ask… yet she still did.
She later claimed that she didn’t want to ask these questions “because it was kind of probing and personal and intrusive.” However, she felt that she had a “responsibility” to ask those questions. Even if you think there is a story there, Savannah, why did you think it was your place to ask something so personal?
Who Is Your Real Dad?
Guthrie kept on putting off asking the intimate question. She said that she “delayed, and delayed, and delayed,” until the very last moment. She could hear the crew counting down to their commercial break, and she finally built up the courage to ask these difficult questions.
Once the crew began counting down – five seconds, four, three, two – Guthrie stammered and finally got to the point. “Actually, I think we’re out of time; I was going to ask — nothing more to say about what people said about your — father — your biological father?”
Guthrie Lucked Out
Thankfully, Khloe Kardashian had a positive reaction. She smiled and laughed, saying, “I don’t know who my daddy is, I guess!” There had been rumors stirring in Hollywood that Khloe’s real father might have been someone other than the late Robert Kardashian, maybe even OJ Simpson.
Guthrie claimed to Cohen that it was embarrassing for her to ask that question, but that Kardashian was nothing but “lovely” after the fact. Guthrie’s colleague, Matt Lauer, ran down the stairs and asked her how she could drop a bomb of a question with only three seconds on the clock.
Fonda vs. Kelly
When Oscar winners Jane Fonda and Robert Redford appeared on Today with Megan Kelly, there was no reason to believe that anything would go poorly. Well, it turns out that was very wrong – and that is thanks to Megyn Kelly. Maybe you could have guessed that one.
Fonda and Redford were there to promote a movie, Our Souls at Night, back in 2017. Kelly decided that instead of talking about the film, she would use her platform to ask Fonda about something far more pressing – her previous plastic surgeries. This did not bode well for Kelly in the slightest!
Not Now, Megan
Megyn Kelly started things off on the wrong foot with Jane Fonda. She started by praising Fonda for the way that she was aging – that’s a big no-no. She complimented her for aging “beautifully” and “with strength,” whatever that means. Kelly didn’t hesitate to bring up something that Fonda wasn’t proud of.
Kelly decided to point out that Fonda had “some work done.” Megyn Kelly, why oh why would you say something like that to any woman, let alone Jane Fonda of all people? That is crazy to do! Fonda clapped back and gave the best death stare. She refuted it saying, “do we really want to talk about that now?”
Fonda Fights Back
Fonda took Kelly’s initial question as an invitation to clap back at her. She decided that it was time to do the interview in her style; she was not going to put up with Megyn Kelly’s comments. “Let me tell you why I love this movie that we did, Our Souls at Night, rather than plastic surgery.”
Luckily, Jane Fonda had no problem making fun of Megyn Kelly later when she met with Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. She even made a joke about the incident later when she sat with Lily Tomlin to promote her Netflix series, Grace & Frankie, making a joke about facelifts.
Kelly Got What She Deserved
Kelly said what she said, and she knows it. She was eventually fired from Today for other reasons but went on to tell reporters that she regretted putting Fonda in that position. She told Us Weekly that one of her biggest regrets in her career, or first year in Today that is, was that “I certainly wish I hadn’t put this on Jane Fonda.”
Fonda, however, felt terrible for Megyn Kelly and spoke of her sorrow for her when she appeared on Entertainment Tonight. Fonda said she wished her the best, stating, “I feel badly because, you know, I wanted her to make it, I did.” That’s big of you, Jane!
Megyn Kelly’s Bad Costume Choice
Megyn Kelly totally ate her words when she chose to defend her use of blackface makeup for her Halloween costume one year. This ex-Fox News reporter discussed offensive Halloween costumes with a panel of guests, including Jenna Bush Hager, Melissa Rivers, and Jacob Soboroff.
Before going on a tear, she decided to give her guests “fair warning” about being “a little fired up.” Naturally, anything that starts off with a statement about political correctness taking over, saying things like “political correctness has gone amok” is likely to be a train wreck in the making.
Just Stop Talking, Megyn!
Megyn Kelly dug her own grave when she defended the use of blackface makeup in a Halloween costume. She decided to dig into a university that had recently banned specific costumes for Halloween and later mentioned how Luann de Lesseps from The Real Housewives of New Jersey got bad attention for darkening her skin for a costume.
De Lesseps darkened her skin for a Diana Ross costume, which isn’t okay even if she honored Ross. Kelly defended the costume by saying, “I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween. It’s not like she’s walking around [like that] in general.” Just like that, Megyn Kelly’s hour of the Today show was canceled.
Shame on Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin is another person who has a habit of putting her foot in her mouth. During the 2016 election cycle, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin appeared on Today to speak with Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer about the Iowa caucus. As part of the interview, Guthrie asked questions about Palin’s son.
Palin recently made comments about her son, Track, who had been arrested for assault around the time of the interview. While on the campaign trail with the Republican candidate for 2016, she brought up how her son has PTSD. “My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened…”
Let’s Not Point Fingers…
Palin continued to blame the Obama administration, but in less than direct terms. “It’s a shame that our military personnel even have to wonder if they have to question if they’re respected anymore. It starts from the top.” Her words would come back to bite her in the butt in her Today interview.
Guthrie called her out for spreading the information that she did. “You said that President Obama might be to blame for some of the PTSD that’s out there.” Palin denied the comment and continued to criticize the Today show interviewers who had asked her the questions.
Interviews Aren’t Set in Stone
“You guys brought me here to talk about Iowa politics and the caucus tonight, not to talk about my kids. And that was a promise. But as things go in the media world, you guys don’t always keep your promises evidently. I never blamed President Obama.” It’s like she’s never been on TV before – you should know how interviews go, Sarah!
Before the interview finished, Matt Lauer set the record straight and made an important point. “There were no specific promises made about the content of the interview.” Seriously, what did Sarah Palin expect was going to happen? Did she think they would just ignore any comments she’s made and just not talk about it?
The Kanye and Matt Lauer Incident
Not long after Kanye West made his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment during a televised Hurricane Katrina benefit, this rap legend appeared on the Today show and spoke with Matt Lauer about the incident. It didn’t go so well! Lauer tore into West.
Lauer started things off by playing a clip of former President Bush responding to West’s comments. “It’s one thing to say, you know, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it. It’s not true, and it is one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency.”
Not His Best, Not His Worst
West admitted that his comments were probably not the best reflection of him. He acknowledged that things were agitated when he commented, and he was acting out of an emotional outburst more than anything else. He said that “in a moment of emotion to peg someone… as a racist, is not — it’s just not right.”
However, this didn’t stop Lauer from pushing the limits even further with the rap sensation. He played the clip of Bush again, this time instructing West to watch it. “Don’t even listen this time. I want you to just look at his face… Just look at him … What would you say to him if he would meet with you face-to-face?”
Just Talk to Me
Kanye West did not appreciate the position that Lauer put him in. I mean, how could he? It seemed like Lauer was just doing that for the ratings. He then stated, “I didn’t need you guys to show me the tape in order to prompt my emotions of what I’m going to say… I don’t need all the jazz.”
Kanye then took a beat to ask for quiet on set. He took the time to “man up” for his previous comments and mistakes but then accused Matt Lauer of setting him up and baiting him. He definitely was not treated in the best way possible in the spirit of good and fair interviews!