For a segment that aired in May 2008, Matt Lauer joined in with the so-called bullfighters at the Houston Rodeo. The Today Show's "dangerous jobs" segment played more like a piece of engineered rodeo propaganda than journalism of any kind.
SHARK was appalled to find out that Matt Lauer, co-anchor of the NBC Today Show, was a "clown" at the 2008 Houston Rodeo.
The piece plays like a rodeo advertisement, but was part of the Today Show's "Dangerous Jobs" segment. Matt is quoted as saying he "agreed to try his hand at one of the scariest professions in the world" - rodeo clown.
Matt considers a rodeo clown a "profession" and a scary one at that!? Oh sure, rodeo folks have tried to change the name to "bullfighter" just like they changed the names of calf roping and steer busting.
How about Matt trying his hand at a truly, scary profession like a U.S. soldier over in the war zone, or a firefighter, or a police officer or a prison guard? Something honorable instead of a role in a westernized circus where animals are being abused, injured, and killed.
Matt Lauer claimed he had the "guts to be a rodeo clown," now SHARK is challenging Matt to have the guts to deal with the cruelty and corruption of rodeos.
We are requesting that the NBC Today staff of Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and Al Roker match the 8 minutes and 44 seconds spent glorifying the rodeo with 8 minutes and 44 seconds exposing the abuse and cruelty perpetrated upon the victims of rodeos. In other words, providing "fair and balanced" reporting.
What You Can Do
Write the Today Staff and let them know what you think about this issue and encourage them to expose the truth about cruel and deadly rodeos.
Suggest they go to our websites: RodeoCruelty.com to see the truth about rodeos.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112
There are three email addresses to contact:
There is a petition circulating also: sign the petition.
Here's what just a few other compassionate viewers have written:
Dear Today Show,
I thought the media was supposed to investigate the facts before it does any story -- and especially before it makes light of a subject that is far from humorous.
As hosts of NBC Today, you and your producers clearly didn't do any homework before Matt became rodeo clown for a day.
I wish the four of you, plus all 60,000 attendees at the rodeo the evening Matt rode into Houston, had first watched a few of the 60-plus YouTube videos that reveal just how gallantly these cowboys treat the animals in their custody. You would've cancelled your guest clowning, Matt, the crowded stadium would've been empty, and the rodeo goons would be one step nearer to folding their seedy, sickening enterprise.
Please check out a few of the videos below. If the level of brutality, the degree of immorality, and the instances of illegality do not shock you, I can only conclude you've checked your compassion and humanity at the door. Or kept it hidden in a barrel!
(3) U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds support animal abuse
(5)National High School rodeo finals
(7) Three-month-old rodeo calf
(8) Southwest Airlines sponsors animal abuse
There are plenty more YouTube rodeo videos if you haven't seen enough. In case you're wondering why there's no video of the Houston rodeo, the answer is that its organizers do a great job of preventing videocameras in to record events. But eyewitnesses report that animal abuse, injuries and deaths all occur at Houston's Reliant Center every February/March.
Well, NBC Today, now that you've already helped deceive and desensitize viewers and perpetuate animal abuse, perhaps you'll find a way to balance the scales, such as running a feature on rescues and sanctuaries that save "washed up" rodeo livestock from slaughter. There's where you'll meet truly courageous, compassionate citizens!
Dear Today Show,
My family and myself would appreciate it if you did an expose on the cruelty involved in rodeos. Rodeos are barbaric activities and have no place in a humane culture.
We respectfully request that you look at the truth of rodeo cruelty at:
RodeoCruelty.com and The CruelTruth.com.
Matt Lauer is, of course, a wonderful person but, as educators, we see rodeo as teaching that cruelty to animals is OK-- and it is not.
Could you please do a story on the other side of the the issue- behind the scenes as depicted in the two web sites provided above?
Respectfully, as someone who watches MSNBC, I would like to suggest that the writing staff of the Today Show become familiar with the cruel and at times inhumane treatment of animals exploited at rodeo events.
I would further like to suggest the writing staff, and if possible the hosts of the Today Show, go to these websites: RodeoCruelty.com and TheCruelTruth.com to find the truth about rodeos.
Thank you for your consideration.