By Alvin Blanco
After Kanye West tweeted his disdain for his pre-taped interview with the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer days prior, the world finally saw Kanye’s exchange with Lauer on Thursday (November 11) and, to some, it did not disappoint.
The interview began well enough, with Lauer asking West how he felt about the former president’s feelings about his “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment. In response, Kanye said he empathized with Bush regarding being called a racist, and then Lauer played an interview clip of the former president and asked West to “Just look at him” to see the anguish in his face. At this point West said, “I didn’t need you guys to show me the tape in order to prompt my emotion to what I’m going to say.”
And this is where the interview went downhill.
Other incidents include West asking people offstage to keep quiet and displaying frustration at the clip of him interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech during the VMAs playing while he answered a question. Awkward. Then on Friday ’Ye canceled his upcoming “Today” show concert, citing Lauer again.
So who is to blame?
“Kanye wasn’t treated unfairly at all,” says Steven J. Horowitz of YRB Magazine. “Anyone who’s ever watched Matt Lauer give an interview on the ’Today’ show knows that he provides context to what an interviewee is discussing by showing clips. Granted, the tactic is intended to cull a specific emotional response, but it isn’t malicious at all. The problem here is that ’Ye thought he could use this specific media opp as a platform to discuss whatever he wanted and control how it transpired on his own terms. That’s not how it works in television and to bite the hand that helps feed your promo machine is, frankly, childish.”
There is the possibility that the superfluous noise really was distracting to West as he tried to answer Lauer’s questions.
“Kanye notorious for asking people to turn down music (even his own) because it distracts him from getting out his thoughts,” explains Brad Wete of Entertainment Weekly. “He did it on Angie’s show [on New York’s Hot 97 radio station] playfully. He said something like, ’Can you turn down the music. It makes me want to rap.’ And on Flex, [he] was like, ‘Okay, the music is off. Kanye is here.’ So that’s just a Kanye quirk. He should have politely said it distract him and asked could they turn the audio down. All that other stuff wasn’t needed. If it had been a rap outlet, I might even think they should know better.”
The “Today” show may not be The Source or XXL, but a level of decorum should probably be upheld regardless of the outlet.
“Kanye has to realize that there is only so much he can control when it comes to media, especially by now,” says Erika Ramirez of Honey Mag. “They need ratings and adhere to their audience, so they will ask what they feel will accomplish both. Either way, Ye’ has control of his reaction.”
Was Matt Lauer out of line? Or was Kanye West dealt a bad hand? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!