Kanye West on 'Today' show: Watch the interview he called 'brutal'

kanye-west-today-showImage Credit: NBCThe Today show interview that Kanye West called “VERY BRUTAL” on Twitter yesterday aired in part today, letting the world see the exchange that made West tweet, “I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused.”

After introducing the segment this morning, Today host Matt Lauer played West’s remarks about accusing George W. Bush of racism after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “As far as it being the worst moment of his presidency, you know, I can’t really speak to that,” the rapper said. “But his take, his explanation, I completely agree with and I empathize with totally.”

The trouble in their interview began a moment later, when the Today show cued footage of Lauer’s recent interview with Bush. “I didn’t need you guys to show me the tape in order to prompt my emotions or whatever,” West said in an annoyed tone. “I don’t need all the jazz…Can we be quiet for a second?”

Pressed by Lauer to further explain his thoughts on the Bush incident, West went back on message. “I want to give it the exact perfect wording, because everything I say gets taken and drawn into headlines,” he noted. “I’m here to man up to different mistakes that I made, and speak to the moment when I pegged George Bush as a racist. I came here to say that I made mistakes and I’ve grown as a person.”

But when Today cued another clip of West interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs, he complained again. “Yo, how am I supposed to talk if you’re going to run the thing in the middle while I’m talking?…Please don’t let that happen again. It’s ridiculous.”

In this morning’s segment, Lauer defended the practice of showing old footage during interviews as standard. Watch the interview after the jump and let us know what you think: Was West right to be bothered by Lauer’s interviewing technique?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com:
Kanye West responds to George W. Bush about Katrina controversy: “I definitely can understand the way he feels”
George Bush really does not “appreciate” Kanye West’s Katrina criticism: “The worst moment of my presidency”

Comments (357 total) Add your comment
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  • Bradley

    Wow, that was awkward.

    • Jean

      It was awkward because Kanye made it awkward. He overreacts to everything. He doesn’t like it when things are going smoothly. This dude is an attention-seeker who is just an annoying pest and he is finally getting on everyone’s nerves. Thank god!

      • honk

        you nailed it!. couldnt say it better.

      • Jarr

        Kanye needs to learn how to manage his wagging tongue if he wants to be a star. He can sing, but can’t hold an intelligent conversation. If he can’t stand the media heat, stay in the recording studio.

      • jason


      • Kate

        Exactly…Kanye did not have to be there…he contacted NBC the day that Bush was on Today to respond to his post-Katrina comments. If he put himself up on the Today show, he was subject to their questions and interview style…which is NO different from ANY morning show. He’s a whiney baby who needs serious therapy to get past his demons and stop blaming everyone else for his feelings of “being attacked”.

      • Bradley

        Attacking only Kanye here is dumb. Matt Lauer was a horrible journalist in this situation.

        Remember too that this is a pre-taped interview. I’m sure producers tried to edit it in a more Today-show favoring way after Kanye ranted about it on Twitter.

        Both made it awkward. Don’t only go after Kanye here.

      • FromChicago

        here’s a man who thousands of dollars of diamonds in his mouth….talk about vain! And he doesn’t do diddly squat for charity….he gives a back to school show once a year, but other than that….I can’t say enough how disgusted I am with him…he needs his mama bad, I think she’s the only one who kept him in line.

      • JB

        So nailed on the head etc etc. And let us remember he really cant sing either. Oh unless you count a vocal synth and studio help to be there. He is an idiot with a big mouth, and the biggest problem is that mediocrity buys his albums…. He really has no respect…

      • jack

        what a moron…he gets upset over the smallest things. He keeps saying he’s ‘changed’ but I really don’t see it. He so carefully words his ‘apologies’ that it barely sounds like he thinks he made a mistake.

      • accept differences

        hahaha ok that was very funny and entertaining. But this is part of the beauty of the world and you need to accept peoples differences. I still think Kanye is a great man, and lets face it…at least he is extremely far away from boring. Ya he is chaotic, but come on, life without chaos is boring.

      • rock golf

        I wish Matt Lauer had gone up against George Bush with half the vile, piss & vinegar he seems to have saved Kanye West.
        West is an egotistical jerk, certainly, but Bush is, to put it bluntly, a war criminal.

      • Beatrices

        My husband and I regularly watch “The Today Show”. The practice of airing archived video footage to provide context in an interview is common (roughly 75% of the time when such interviews are directed at a historical incident) and is crucial to viewers who may have missed the event or original airing of said video. For Kanye to suggest the show was treating him unfairly is unfounded and laughable. It once again speaks to his paranoid tendencies as a public figure. Somebody lasso that guy off the public stage. Nothing he says ever seems to lead to the greater good; in fact, he seems to thrive on inciting hatred and feelings of racism that we’ve all worked hard in this country to bury and move on from. Electing our nation’s first African-American president (by a voting community comprised of whites, blacks – and ALL races) is testimony to that hard-fought effort. His selfish soap-box rants are designed ONLY to call attention to himself.

      • Andrew

        How would you feel if you were doing an interview and had to be faced with those clips at the same time? THAT is rude on the Today Show’s part.

    • mypitts2

      Put me in with the “that was awkward” camp, and not just b/c of Kanye’s reaction. It’s weird for Matt to seem to want to make him wallow in it, after he already said he was wrong.

      • Omari

        I agree with mypitts2

      • EMT

        just because the today show does something a certain way doens’t mean kanye–or ANY artist or guest–has to like or appreciate it. people are so group think these days. he actually has the presence of mind to articulate his displeasure. more people should be individuals and not just follow the crowd. i agree that he could use a bit more tact, but i applaud kanye. i also agree that he was right about beyonce, but wrong in approach; and he was right about kattrina. AFAMs are often treated like less than citizens in their own country. while bush may not be a racist, his efforts on a disaster affecting a majority black population didn’t go far in showing that he was exactly color-blind.

    • Jon

      The point has been lost. Kanye, Lauer … you have side stepped the context of the question originally being addressed; Bush and the affect of his policies/actions as president on the poor and middle class Americans. The stats show shrinkage on all fronts for those groups. Is it racist? First of all. GET OFF the equation that poor/disadvantage + minority groups. That is a vestige of the institutional demon-ization of minorites to lessen the deserved outrage a moral people should have when the evidence of the injustices are apparent. The overwhelming membership of poor and disadvantage people are white. Fear perpetually used by politicians tricked us to equate poverty with minorities. We are Americans and we are ALL getting the result of divide and exploit economics. To the question at hand the answer is in the stats for the poor – middle class Americans et. al.

      • Mike

        oh god, pleae go away

      • H. Marcuse

        Couldn’t have said it better myself. Unless I said it in German, of course. And said it in 15,000 words.

      • Cantu

        Did you like type your response in your language, then hit google translate and then copy/paste?

      • HUH??

        Talk about going off point. Geez. The “context of the question originally being addressed” in THIS interview was Kanye’s response to Bush’s interview. It wasn’t about whatever it is you’re talking about. Obviously you just needed to get that off your chest and this was the article closest to your agenda. At least be honest about that.

      • dvannf

        I believe, Kanye did’nt need to retract his statement. Bush needed to say he was sorry to the Katrina community.

      • ronniegirl

        i have always thought it was silly to run clips through and interview and kanye was there to talk about bush…as much as i like matt he does throw zingers in to loop you into another conversation. im sure kanye did not agree to talk about anything other than bush…if u watch the interview…matt was frustrating bush too with some of his questions.

      • Zakry

        I didn’t get the point. What was it, white people are poor too? That’s not a newsflash, and what was Kanye supposed to say to it?

      • Brett

        There was no point. His ramblings trailed off before any point could be established.

    • @ Bradley

      If you watch any news/talk program, that is the exact format. (It shows a clip of what they are talking about to refresh the viewer’s memory. Or to show a viewer that hasn’t seen the footage before) This is common practice.
      Regardless of your opinion on Lauer’s talents as a journalist, it doesn’t escape the fact that kanye overreacted (like always). I have absolutley no sympathy for that man. Things like this happen far too often, and I have yet to see evidence that he has “become a better man”.

      • KC

        Exactly. That’s just the format of a good interview – let’s discuss this topic…here’s a recap/footage of what happened…now what is your opinion/comment? Kanye is a tool.

    • Mike

      He needs to do some more growing. Like, into a responsible adult. Not a teenager who says “yo” all the time.

    • Noway

      Why isn’t the fact that so many people died unneccessarily in the aftermath of Katrina “the most disgusting moment” of his presidency???

      • Mandie

        Way to take something ELSE out of context. He said, “ONE of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency, not “THE most disgusting moment” of his presidency. Learn to read, imho. Idiotic of you to expect somebody to react to one statement by commenting on SOMETHING ELSE.

  • Sean

    K A N Y E RULES!!!!

    • BYB

      This is why liberals are never going to get any place. George Bush did nothing to you and yet you call him names. Maybe read a little instead of listening to a jerk like Kanye.

      • ger

        “George Bush did nothing” – so true, so true.

      • BrutalxTruth


      • Deb

        Actually, I am a liberal, of the bleeding heart variety. I felt for GWB in his statement about being pegged as a racist. I thought calling it “the worst moment of his presidency” might have been slightly over-stating it, ya know, considering 9/11 and Katrina and Rita and a couple of other natural disasters and military setbacks, but I did feel for him, because it probably did totally suck and what was he going to do, go on TV and say “NO I LOVE BLACK PEOPLE!!”? And Kanye is a tool.

        Just so you don’t make such broad generalizations all the time. I’m not the only liberal who feels this way. Cause we talk about it sometimes in our super-secret, Pinky and the Brain take-over-the-world style meetings. ;-)

      • mypitts2

        Liberals will be fine, dude.

      • Geronimo Jackson

        So all Liberals hate George W Bush and love Kanye? I was unaware of this. I’m a little ticked to find that my political stance is going to make me have to go out and buy his albums which I was pretty sure I didn’t care for. I also didn’t know that I hated George Bush. I always thought I simply disagreed with him.

        This is a rough week for me; I was also recently informed that because I am a liberal I support the murder of babies, and am a communist.

    • GW Bish

      You have this little black button called a ‘caps lock’ on that big buttony thing that came with your computer. Once you learn how to use the computer properly, you can turn that little ‘caps lock’ buttony thing off. STUPID.

    • T.Sharp

      Kanye is full of bull and needed a reality check

    • Barbara Weiss

      very mature

    • Barbara Weiss

      very mature Sean

    • craig s

      hes a little racist punk,he wishes he had half the talent taylor has,she writes and plays her music,she doesnt sing words to a beat box,like him and beyonce,he better waqtch wher he shows his face now,hes pissed alot of people off!!!

      • C-Lo

        He’s a multi-platinum producer in addition to being an artist he doesnt just sing into a box

    • Beatrices

      Go back to the playground where someone might give a rat’s ass about junior-league name calling. Pathetic.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m not defending Kanye in anyway, but what was the point of picking the scab, Matt? Find me the person in the world who doesn’t know what Kanye’s done in the past. The rest of us know.
    Lost a little respect for Lauer… and gained a bit for Kanye for coming on television to man-up.

    • Michelle

      Agreed. Can’t say I’m a fan of Kanye, but why play that clip while he’s showing empathy towards Bush? Instead of being able to see his face as he’s speaking today, we have to see him being a jackass 2 years ago.

    • Bebe

      Kanye isn’t very eloquent, is he? He doesn’t sound very intelligent at all, in fact. This is the guy who was billed as “The Educator” or whatever when he entered the scene? He’s just sad.

      • AliB

        I actually think that he sounded really self conscious. He did express that everything he says becomes a headline, so he was probably thinking really hard about everything he said and came off not so eloquent.

    • honk

      i agree with you except for the part on a little more respect for Kanye. just heard a interview a few weeks ago where he said he was right about beyonce getting the award. hes just a jerk that needs to get out of the spot light for good

      • Kam

        Umm, so? That’s his opinion. And he is allowed to have it. He can think he is RIGHT about believing beyonce deserved the aware yet still be apologetic and know he was WRONG about running up on stage. I really don’t get your logic.

    • Fran V

      Picking at scabs is what the Today show does best these days. Robert Downey Jr. was on to promote Due Date and they spent 2 minutes talking about the movie and the rest of the interview talking about his many-years-past drug habit and asking what advice he had for Charlie Sheen. He was visibly annoyed and I didn’t blame him.

      • BA

        Totally agree! I’ve been turning of the Today Show more and more lately, because they seem so bent toward slanted sensationalism. Good Morning America is more balanced to me.

      • KC

        See now THAT makes sense for someone to get annoyed about – RDJ gets asked about that all the time. So glad he’s doing better. But didn’t Kanye purposely go on Today to discuss/have a response on the Bush topic?

    • Juneau

      Man-up? Are you serious? He didn’t. He can’t

    • Lizzie

      I agree. How does anyone expect him to move on if the press can’t stop revisiting the incidents for the rest of his life. Kanye could be 90 and die and they’ll still be playing those clips.

    • Beatrices

      Kanye has shown a *pattern* of behaving badly. This is not an isolated incident. His thoughtless remarks about Bush was just one of many transgressions. He wasn’t handcuffed to do this interview. He had a chance to redeem himself but once again chose to play the pathetic victim in an effort to draw more bad attention to *himself*.

    • Amy R

      I totally agree with you. I don’t always think Kanye West chooses his words carefully, but I actually think he had a very valid point. Why add all the tv ‘jazz’? And then the Taylor Swift thing…who are they kidding at the Today show? Everyone knew the incident to which he was referring. Showing the clip was unnecessary and irrelevant to the Bush issue. It seemed a little sensationalist, like they were trying to see a juicy story instead of actual news. If I were Kanye, I would probably feel like I had just sat through a compilation of my worst moments for the sake of a sexier story. I get his feeling of being ‘misused.’

  • jmcg

    I’m on Kanye’s side on this one. It seems a little petty to keep dredging it up. Lauer is beating a dead horse.

    • graeme

      Agreed. Kanye gives a pretty eloquent answer the first time Lauer asks the question. Not sure why Lauer just rephrases the same question over and over again.

    • @ jmcg

      Lauer brought it up because Bush just recently mentioned the “racism” incident. Secondly, he was tying it to an incident (Taylor Swift) that many people (including myself) believe to be racially driven.

      • Rebecca

        Please, Taylor Swift did not deserve to win that VMA over Beyonce. So just stop!! You all know it. Taylor Swift cannot and probably will never be able to sing well outside of the studio. I mean, have you heard her sing live?? Jeez, it’s like nails on a chalkboard mixed with screeching, breathless cats. Good lord!! And that video??? CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! Romeo and Juliet??? Really??

        So, yes, Kanye was a douche for interrupting her speech. But all of you know you were thinking the same thing….

  • jenn

    I do think that rolling tape regarding the Taylor Swift incident was inappropriate and untimely. I also think Lauer intended on contributing to the negative light West has been held in.

    • Mike9999

      Rolling the Taylor clip at that time was *exactly* on point and appropriate. Lauer was, in essence, asking Kanye “How does it feel to be called a racist?” That’s exactly what the line of questioning was about.

      • Sue

        Kenye never learned manners. He is sickening.

      • Rebecca

        It wasn’t racially motivated why he interrupted Taylor. It’s the fact that she didn’t deserve to win…. full stop!

  • HML

    Ugh, could Matt Lauer be a worse interviewer? The way he was prompting answers instead of letting Kanye answer for himself. I am not a Kanye fan but Lauer is such an egotistical jacka**.

    • Juneau

      Maybe Matt was just trying to get Kanye to the point instead of babbling on and on and on and on.

      • HML

        He wasn’t babbling so much as trying to formulate a response. Lauer doesn’t need to put words in his mouth.

  • nodnarb

    Kanye needed a Twix moment.

    • honk

      lol that is so funny and true

    • Noella

      The “Twix”moment remark very, very funny.

    • Tara

      Lmao !!

  • TJ

    Kanye was actually right to be annoyed with the Today Show. Matt Lauer was trying to get a sound byte out of him and not an interview. It was clear that Matt was not listening to him, just as he was not listening to Bush about “worst” moment. Bush did not say that in the interview. FYI not a Bush supporter.

    • ronniegirl

      i watched the interview… bush did say it was one of the worst moments during his presidency

  • Carrie #2

    Yeah, I’m not a Kanye West fan but I have to side with him on this one, I think Matt Lauer’s really beating a dead horse and trying to put words in Kanye’s mouth. Just back off and let the man talk, geez.

  • Shawn

    Kanye didn’t have to do the interview, though he has got an album to promote, so they should have treated him with some respect. Matt Lauer is basically human garbage though letting Bush get away with suggesting that he isn’t a racist. I guess ratings are so bad at NBC that they gotta try anything they can to create controversy.

    • TJ

      Considering that Bush appointed Rice and Powell to the most power cabinet position and that he said that he wanted Obama to suceed as the President. I really think you are off base on calling him a racist. Maybe it is time for you to move on from the Bush years.

    • Mandie

      The only one being racist here, clearly, is you.

  • TJ

    Also, Kanye was right about his opinion between Taylor Swift/Beyonce, but it was just rude. I totally agree with him

    • fredro

      I agree too, Beyonce should have won, but I gues they didn’t want to give Beyonce “Album of the Year” and “Video of the Year” …but Kanye could have waited until after the show, when he would actually be interviewed.

      • craig s

        are you serious?these people sing the same sounding crap song after song,taylor writes and plays her own music..all they do is sing karoke..

      • @ Craig S

        That Craig S. guy is a fan boy.. he keeps wriiting and defending Taylor Swift.. repeating that she writes her music.. like no one else does that and its so rare.. I’m not biased against her.. but you really need to cease your stupid rants.. she’s not the only musician/artist who writes and/or produces their own music…

      • Rebecca

        Beyonce writes and sings her on music. She can also sing live, which as I’ve heard, Taylor has some difficulty…

    • EMT


  • winston

    That was a low blow by Matt Lauer. I have to say that Kanye West’s twitter posting sounds a bit suicidal. Lauer, you better watch it.

    • Bebe

      “I have to say that Kanye West’s twitter posting sounds a bit suicidal.”

      From your lips …

      • Miss Talk

        No, for real.
        Do you people need to see this guy dead before letting it go? He said he was sorry a trillion times even if a lot of people agreed with his comments yet people like Lauer keep pushing him to the canyon.
        I’m starting to think that people like to bash him because he makes them feel better about themselves.
        Stop BULLYING him.

      • Will

        Honestly, Kanye hasn’t earned my forgiveness yet. Im not sure he realizs that but making the covr of your new album a drawing of your naked self is definitely not helping your image Mr. West.

      • straw

        Miss Talk, aka Chris Crocker, watching someone like West make a complete fool of himself at every opportunity makes EVERYONE feel better about themselves. For real.

  • Niki

    I agree that “Today” was looking to stir up more controversy and was definitely prompting Kanye West for sound bites. The producers were probably betting on the fact that showing the clips in the middle of his answers would provoke him. However, at some point, I would really love to see West be the bigger person and take responsibility for his own actions. It’s fine that it irritated him that the clips were being shown; but was it totally necessary to react the way he did? He should have answered the questions truthfully without the complaints about the clips and saved the comments for his Twitter page later. That would have truly shown us that he’s grown as a person.

  • reel_deal

    Goddammit Matt Laurer, why are you so terrible?

  • Ben

    Funny how people like West and John Mayer feel like they are being attacked when it comes down to being criticized for the wrong-headed crap pouring out of their own mouths. If you are going to make a public ass out of yourself…be prepared to be called out on it.

    • Malcom

      I’m so glad there are so many perfect people in this world. Thanks for weighing in, Mr. Perfect.

      • Niki

        It’s not about being “perfect”, it’s about having tact and being an adult. People such as West and Mayer have to remember they are in the public eye at ALL times. Anything they say is going to be scrutinized, so being mindful of what comes out of their mouths is necessary. Though we should probably also remember that these are celebrities who are looking for publicity, so it’s entirely possible that they’re courting controversy purposely with their remarks.

      • Sheli

        Wow, did Ben touch a nerve, there? I see nothing in his post claiming to be perfect. I’m certainly not, but if I act like an ass, I’m sure not going to be shocked if someone points it out. I’ve said and done plenty of thing in my life that, in the heat of the moment seemed right to me, but looking back were just so wrong. I’m glad Kanye has grown enough to maybe reevaluate. I’m no Kanye fan by any means, either.

      • Malcom

        Having tact and being an adult? Then be an adult and move on instead of living in the past. Every single article about this man is constantly bombarded by the same posts over and over. You claim it’s not about being perfect, then stop judging and criticizing the man like you are perfect. My entire point is so many people rant on and on about how terrible he is as a person, as if they’ve never done something regrettable in their life. Are you really so perfect that you can judge someone? There’s such a thing as forgive and forget. The way you people go on about his past mistakes, you’d think he actually did them to you. Now how exactly is that adult? Don’t come at me with that hypocritical nonsense.

      • Mr. Perfect

        Stop talking about me, a-hole.

      • @Malcom part II

        On a some level you may be right. HOWEVER…many of us mere mortals (meaning not celebrities) make mistakes, learn from them, and hopefully don’t repeat them. But in this case, Kanye seems to continue to repeat the same behavior, in a public manner that millions will see, but then complains when he gets the attention for it. Can’t have it both ways.

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