Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

NBC's Lauer Invites Elton John to Bash Reagan as 'Overrated,' Cheer Clinton as 'Fantastic'

In an interview with singer Elton John on Tuesday's NBC Today that focused on the performer's AIDS awareness activism, co-host Matt Lauer teed him up to rate recent presidents on combating the disease: "Elton champions those he feels made a positive impact on the AIDS epidemic, but he also takes to task those he believes caused harm. And he doesn't hold back." [Listen to the audio]

Lauer declared: "Let's play a little game of political word association. Give me the brief answer to each of the names that I'm going to throw out, just your first reaction. Ronald Reagan." John sniffed: "Overrated." Lauer continued: "Bill Clinton." John gushed: "Fantastic. Made some big mistakes but, God, he's a fantastic man."

When Lauer brought up George W. Bush, John initially had praise: "I have a kind of soft spot for him in a way because he was very – what he did for AIDS was fantastic." Then John quickly added: "But I'm glad he's not in power anymore."

Moments later, Lauer turned to President Obama announcing his support for gay marriage and wondered: "As a gay man, how did you feel about it?" John proclaimed: "I think it's wonderful that he did that. You know, he's done a lot, he got rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And you know, you just can't do things overnight and I really appreciate what he's done."

When Lauer brought up the possibility of Obama doing it for political reasons and to boost campaign fundraising, John dismissed such concerns: "Well, it's the right thing to do. It's ratification of our rights."

Wrapping up the segment, Lauer concluded: "Elton John is incredibly outspoken."

Here is a portion of the July 17 exchange:

8:23AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: Elton [John] champions those he feels made a positive impact on the AIDS epidemic, but he also takes to task those he believes caused harm. And he doesn't hold back. Let's play a little game of political word association. Give me the brief answer to each of the names that I'm going to throw out, just your first reaction. Ronald Reagan.

ELTON JOHN: Overrated.

LAUER: Bill Clinton.

JOHN: Fantastic. Made some big mistakes but, God, he's a fantastic man.

LAUER: George W. Bush.

JOHN: I have a kind of soft spot for him in a way because he was very – what he did for AIDS was fantastic. But I'm glad he's not in power anymore.

LAUER: So for one issue...

JOHN: He was brilliant on this.

LAUER: ...he was the guy-

JOHN: Yeah, he was fantastic with AIDS.

LAUER: Not long ago, President Obama in an interview said he supports gay marriage. As a gay man, how did you feel about it?

JOHN: I think it's wonderful that he did that. You know, he's done a lot, he got rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And you know, you just can't do things overnight and I really appreciate what he's done.

LAUER: But do you think he said it for political reasons? That he was forced into a corner where he had to say it.

JOHN: By Joe Biden?

LAUER: Well, not only by Joe Biden, by some who were holding back financing and fundraising money until he came out and made that comment?

JOHN: Well, it's the right thing to do. It's ratification of our rights.

LAUER: Elton John is incredibly outspoken.

(...)