Matt Lauer courtesy NBC Matt Lauer courtesy NBC
Matt Lauer defended NBC News' decision to air an interview with Princes William and Harry, even as the network paid $2.5 million to broadcast the July 1 Concert for Diana from Wembley Stadium in London. The Today coanchor shot down speculation that his groundbreaking interview was part of the deal. Lauer is hosting a one-hour version of the daylong concert at 8 pm/ET Sunday night, following a repeat of his sitdown with the royals, which originally aired June 18. "When the concert deal was signed, they hadn't decided they were even going to do an interview," Lauer told reporters in a phone press conference on Monday. "There was a lot of discussion and my writing and my calling. Do I think the fact that we were airing the concert gave us an enormous advantage? Absolutely. [But] there was no 'we get the concert and we get the boys.' If there had been some quid pro quo, I wouldn't have had to go through the hoops I had to go through." In the wake of renewed accusations of checkbook journalism following NBC's rumored $1 million offer to Paris Hilton for her first post-prison interview, Lauer said interview deals should be "more transparent... maybe we need to have a mission statement for future interviews so people know what did or didn't happen." (

NBC later retracted the Hilton offer.) Lauer continued to say that "if the entertainment division makes a judgment that a concert like this for Diana is a good get, it can't mean that we then are excluded from continuing to pursue an interview with her sons." Reporting by Ileane Rudolph