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Today’s Matt Lauer Sidesteps Key Issue in Mark Wahlberg Pardon Request

Mark WahlbergWhen it comes to national news, Asian Americans are non-existent. Even when AAPIs are at the center of the story, the community is often ignored.

Case in point–Matt Lauer’s interview with Mark Wahlberg Friday on Today.

Morning news programs are a different beast. The competing programs on broadcast television compete vigorously for the “get.” That’s the term producers use to describe the exclusive, must have interview.

No doubt a lot of negotiations with Wahlberg’s handlers took place before the actor agreed to the interview.

Wahlberg appeared on Today to promote his upcoming movie, The Gambler. It wasn’t until more than half way through the 6 minute interview did Lauer even bring up the pardon controversy.

As AsAmNews previously reported, when Wahlberg was a teenager, he brutally attacked a Vietnamese American man. It’s been reported that the attack left the man blind in one eye, although the victim recently stated in an interview with the Daily Mail that he was blind before the attack.

According to court documents, Wahlberg used racial language in his attack calling him  “a f****** Vietnamese s****”

For that, many in the Asian American community have opposed Wahlberg’s pardon request.

Yet, Lauer never asked the actor about the use of racist language during the interview. It was an issue Walhberg also ignored in his pardon request. His arguments in favor of the pardon on Today pretty much mirrored his petition.

“From the day I woke up in prison realizing the mistakes that I had made and the pain that I caused people, I committed to turning my life around,” Wahlberg told Lauer.

Today failed to meet  its journalistic obligation during the interview by not bringing up the race issue.

To be fair, NBC has written about this aspect of the story on its website. But this only makes me wonder more why Lauer sidestepped the issue when it had the chance to ask him to his face.

Today’s chief rival, Good Morning America, also didn’t bring up this aspect of the story in a Dec 5 report by Paula Faris.

Victim Thanh Lam said in his interview with the Daily Mail he supports Wahlberg’s pardon and has forgiven the actor.

But others have said its not enough. In her blog Reappropriate, Jenn Fang calls on the actor to produce an anti-racism PSA to make amends. A petition organized by the Asian American activist group 18 Million Rising has generated more than 13,000 signatures opposing the pardon.

AsAmNews has contacted NBC News for comment and will publish them if and when we receive them.

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