Kathie Lee Gifford is still good friends with Matt Lauer, and she isn’t afraid to say so. One year after her fellow former Today show anchor got the boot from NBC over allegations of sexual misconduct, Gifford is going on the record to make it clear she’s no fair-weather friend. In the new issue of People (on stands this Friday), she explains how she defines friendship — and how that definition is actualized when it comes to her relationship with Lauer.
“I was texting him last week and praying for him this morning. That’s what a friendship means to me,” Gifford told People. “I’ve been through very, very hard times in my life and I saw my friends drop away because they weren’t my friends. Times like that test the mettle of friendships. The Matt I love is the Matt I still do.” Gifford goes on to address the fact that she doesn’t feel comfortable playing judge and jury when it comes to the misgivings of others. “I believe in redemption because Jesus did. And it’s not for me to judge any choices he made. That’s between him, his wife and his God. My job is to be his friend and be there for him. He’s found out who his real friends are.”
🗣Do you stick by or distance yourself from a friend associated with a scandal? pic.twitter.com/H2zKx5FjnY
— The Talk (@TheTalkCBS) March 27, 2019
Of course, Gifford’s prerogative is hers and hers alone. However, it goes without saying that many people may find her outlook problematic in light of the accusations against Lauer. In November 2017, after more than two decades as the anchor of Today, he was fired following detailed complaints from female colleagues alleging inappropriate sexual behavior. Per Variety, there are at least three women who came forward with claims of sexual misconduct against Lauer over a several-year time span.
In addition to losing his job as part of the fallout over the accusations, Lauer lost something arguably more precious: his marriage. In January 2019, the Post reported that Lauer’s wife of almost two decades, Annette Roque, had “forced him out of the Hamptons estate they shared with their three kids.” Subsequent reports have claimed that Lauer will be responsible for paying Roque up to $20 million in their divorce. He’s currently laying pretty low, telling reporters he’s just “been busy being a dad.”
In Gifford’s eyes, Lauer’s losses are simply further proof that he needs her friendship now more than ever. “He made mistakes and he paid dearly for them. But I believe in second, third and 100 chances,” Gifford told People.