“TODAY” co-anchor Matt Lauer has been tagged to moderate an upcoming town hall forum featuring GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and his selection resulted in a controversy over a reported conflict of interest.
…even though NBC News says the controversy is unfounded.
The Sept. 7th Commander-in-Chief forum is being billed as “the first joint candidate event of the general election,” and is set to air live at 8 p.m. ET on both NBC and MSNBC. Both candidates “will take questions on national security, military affairs and veterans’ issues from a live audience comprised of service members and veterans,” according to an NBC news release.
After the announcement, Mediaite reported that Lauer was once listed as a “notable member” of the Clinton Global Initiative, the leadership arm of the Clinton Foundation.
But a network spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter the reports are not true.
“Matt Lauer was not and is not a Clinton Global Initiative member,” the NBC spokesperson stated. “He interviewed President Clinton from a CGI conference for the ‘Today’ show’s live broadcast, not for the conference.”
In addition, Lauer has apparently never donated any money to the foundation.
The confusion appears to center around a page on the Clinton Foundation website that listed prominent journalists as members. In addition to Lauer, “notable members” listed included Anderson Cooper, Maria Bartiromo, Thomas Friedman, Christiane Amanpour and Greta Van Susteren.
The Hollywood Reporter said it’s not clear why the journalists were listed and the page has since been deleted. Becoming a Clinton Foundation member requires a $20,000 donation, but some individuals are granted complimentary membership.
Trump did not balk at Lauer being named the event moderator and the candidate appears regularly on Van Susteren’s Fox News program.