Britney Spears: Matt Lauer Once Said He ‘Did His Job’ in the Infamous Dateline Interview and ‘Would Do It Again’

Matt Lauer famously interviewed pop singer Britney Spears in 2006 on Dateline. The interview has seen a resurgence in interest thanks to The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears. More than 10 years later, Lauer wouldn’t change anything about the Spears interview, despite the damage to her personal life. The former reporter told Bravo’s Andy Cohen he “did his job” interviewing Spears that day and would do it again.

Matt Lauer interviewing Britney Spears
Matt Lauer and Britney Spears | Craig Blankenhorn/NBC NewsWire

‘Framing Britney Spears’ pulls back the curtain on the pop singer’s conservatorship 

Spears isn’t the first celebrity to be placed under a conservatorship, but she’s one of the most talked-about. After retaliating against the media with an umbrella, Spears was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold. Then, “Ooops!…I Did It Again” singer was placed in a court-sanctioned conservatorship in 2008. Spears’ father, Jamie, is in control of her assets, health care, living arrangements, and, virtually, her life. Thanks to The New York Times documentary, fans understand the long-running court battle Spears has been in. For years, she has been trying to have her father replaced as her conservator. Framing Britney Spears also highlights the pop star’s rise to fame and all of the media attention that came with it — including the infamous interview with Lauer. 

Britney Spears broke down in her 2006 interview with Matt Lauer 

In the Framing Britney Spears documentary, only a clip from the infamous Lauer interview is highlighted. What isn’t shown is the way Lauer frequently referred to Spears as “sexy” and “sexed up” during the interview. Still, his comments weren’t the reason she began to cry.

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Before asking her what it would take to get the paparazzi to leave her alone, Lauer read off a slew of media-inspired questions. He rattled off headlines inferring Spears was a “bad mom” or recorded “bad songs.” Lauer also read a headline that questioned Spears’ marriage to Kevin Federline — at the time of the interview, Spears was pregnant. Later, Lauer asked Spears if she “[did something] that brought [the negative press] on.” All of this resulted in Spears breaking down and crying on camera.

Matt Lauer wouldn’t change anything about his interview with Britney Spears 

While Lauer wasn’t the first or last reporter to barrage Spears in an interview, he did become one of the most controversial. Before the recent Spears documentary came to be, Lauer was a guest on Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live in June of 2017. When a fan asked Lauer if he would have changed anything about his interview with Spears, he had an interesting response. “I think the only part that was at all controversial was [when] she got very emotional and she began to cry,” Lauer explained. He said producers offered Spears the chance to stop and collect herself, as the interview was taped — not live. Lauer said Spears wanted to continue, despite feeling emotional about the “hounding of the press and the paparazzi making her life miserable.” 

Regardless of Spears’ reaction, Lauer feels he did his job that day. “I let her talk and people didn’t think it went that well and I apologize,” he told Cohen. Lauer concluded that he would do the same thing again. In November of 2017, Lauer was fired from NBC News.