Matt Lauer has kept a very low-profile since he was fired from NBC after accusations of sexual misconduct last year, but he's now speaking out publicly for the first time since then, and he finds himself in another controversy. This time, it's with the government of New Zealand.
Last year, the disgraced "Today" show host purchased the Hunter Valley Station ranch in New Zealand for $9 million. The 16,000-acre property stretches from the mountains down to the shores of Lake Hawaea and Lake Wanaka on the country's south island.
The government now apparently wants to build an easement on his 16,000-acre property so hikers can get to the Hawea Conservation Park.
"The easement itself would create a problem. All of a sudden we would have no way of knowing who's back there. One of the directors of one of the groups said it would be carefully managed. Well, by who?," Lauer told Radio New Zealand on July 24. "Is there going to be someone from Walking Access Commission sitting on the side of the road, or are the people that farm that property going to have to sit there and count every person who goes back there, and what's going to happen when they get back there and they don't come back out? Are we supposed to stop farming that land and go look for them?"
The newsman thinks it's no accident that this happening now.
"I believe the groups that are behind this are in some ways unfortunately taking advantage of some difficult times I've been through over the past six months and I think they see me as an easy mark," he said.
The host, John Campbell, implied that maybe his firing and his past have nothing to do with the government's desire.
"I think most of the articles that I have read, John, and the comments I've heard on radio programs, they make very frequent reference to that because they think New Zealanders are going to find some outrage," he said. "I will tell people they don't know the circumstances of that situation."