NBC “Today Show” co-host, Meredith Vieira made comments during Monday’s post Academy Awards coverage that generated a substantial number of complaints. During a celebratory interview with the cast of the multi-award winning movie, The Hurt Locker, Vieira jokingly made reference to a past hug between actors Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner at the time the film was nominated.
VIEIRA: "You hugged him pretty tight, I must say, in the moment. There was a lot of man lovin' goin' on last night. Do I have reason to be worried?"
Anthony Mackie then offered a heartfelt response, completely disarming the idea that there may be a problem with two men embracing.
Vieira has a long track record of supporting our community so the remarks did come as a surprise. GLAAD also heard from multiple constituents who were offended by what she said. That’s when we got on the phone with Vieira to voice concerns and ask her to address the issue. We had a very productive conversation and in the end we walked away knowing her heart is in the right place and she had no intention of causing harm for LGBT people.
She even sent along a statement of explanation and an apology which she asked GLAAD to distribute:
“During an interview with the cast of the hurt locker on Monday, I turned to actor Anthony Mackie and made a joke about "man hugging" in reference to a hug he and fellow actor Jeremy Renner had shared a few weeks earlier on our air. It was meant to be lighthearted, but some were offended by what they believed to be a homophobic comment. That was never my intent, but that doesn't matter. Words are extremely powerful and should never be chosen lightly, even in a lighthearted moment. I apologize to any and all that I offended. My support of the gay and lesbian community is longstanding and well documented. It has not and will never waver.”
GLAAD thanks Meredith Vieira for listening to concerns, addressing this issue sincerely and for using this moment to educate the public on how words can hurt. We continue to value her as an ally and a friend.