Matt Lauer And Tom Cruise Interview

Summary: An unprecedented interview between Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise on the Today Show in 2005 not only highlighted Cruise’s controversial beliefs about Scientology and psychiatry, but also sparked a heated debate about the role of media in allowing public figures to promote personal agendas.

1. Background of the Interview

The interview, which initially aimed at promoting Cruise’s upcoming film “War of the Worlds,” quickly became a topic of controversy due to Lauer’s persistent questioning about Scientology, Cruise’s involvement in the Church, and his public criticism of Brooke Shields for using medication to treat postpartum depression. Cruise’s aggressive defense of Scientology and condemnation of psychiatry, as well as his dismissive attitude towards Lauer’s questions, further fueled the tension and raised concerns about the ethics and responsibility of media professionals in conducting interviews with public figures.

However, the controversy did not end there. Following the interview, criticism and backlash against Cruise and the Church of Scientology escalated, leading to widespread public scrutiny of their practices, beliefs, and alleged abuses of power.

In response, the Church launched a PR campaign to defend Cruise and discredit his critics, including Lauer and Shields. The incident also had a lasting impact on the reputation of the Today Show and Lauer, who was accused of exploiting the interview for ratings and failing to challenge Cruise more effectively.

2. The Role of Media in Interviewing Public Figures

The Lauer-Cruise interview raised important questions about the ethical and professional responsibilities of media professionals and journalists when interviewing public figures, especially those with controversial or polarizing views. Critics argued that Lauer failed to challenge Cruise’s statements effectively, allowed him to dictate the terms of the interview, and ultimately gave him a platform to promote his agenda without sufficient scrutiny or critique.

However, defenders of the interview countered that Lauer’s persistence and skeptical attitude towards Cruise’s claims were appropriate and necessary, given the gravity and potential harm of his rhetoric. Some also argued that the interview shed light on important issues related to mental health, medication, and the impact of religious beliefs on personal and social behavior.

Overall, the debate about media responsibility and accountability in interviewing public figures continues to be a contentious and complex issue, with no easy solutions or consensus among stakeholders.

3. The Controversy over Scientology and Psychiatry

One of the main reasons why the Lauer-Cruise interview became so heated and polarizing was due to the controversial nature of Scientology and its opposition to psychiatry and medication. Cruise’s fervent defense of the Church and its beliefs, as well as his criticism of Lauer and Shields for their acceptance of conventional medicine and treatment, sparked widespread backlash and condemnation from mental health professionals, celebrities, and the general public.

Opponents of Scientology argue that the Church is a dangerous cult that exploits vulnerable individuals, bans critical thinking and dissent, and promotes pseudoscientific and harmful practices, such as the use of “auditing” to control members’ thoughts and actions. Critics also point to the Church’s alleged history of abuse, intimidation, and manipulation, and the negative impact of its anti-psychiatry stance on public attitudes towards mental illness.

Proponents of Scientology, on the other hand, claim that the Church offers a unique and effective way to achieve spiritual and personal growth, and that its beliefs and practices are based on scientific principles and empirical evidence. They also argue that psychiatry is a flawed and corrupt industry that profits from overmedicating and misdiagnosing patients, and that alternative approaches, such as Scientology, offer better outcomes and fewer side effects.

4. The Influence of Personal Beliefs on Public Discourse

The Lauer-Cruise interview also highlighted the tension between personal beliefs and public discourse, and the impact that influential public figures can have on shaping public opinion and policy. Cruise’s endorsement of Scientology and opposition to psychiatry, as well as his attacks on Lauer and Shields for their contrary views, demonstrated the power and danger of using one’s platform to promote controversial or unsupported claims.

At the same time, the controversy also sparked an important debate about the limits and responsibilities of free speech and expression in a democratic society. Critics of censorship and government interference argue that individuals have the right to express their opinions and beliefs, regardless of how unpopular or unconventional they may be, and that the role of media and education is to expose people to diverse perspectives and evidence-based information, rather than to suppress or silence them.

However, defenders of rationality and critical thinking emphasize the importance of distinguishing between opinions and facts, and of holding public figures accountable for the accuracy and reliability of their claims. They also point to the harm that pseudoscientific and unproven beliefs can cause, especially when they are promoted by those in positions of power and influence.

5. Lessons Learned and Future Directions

More than a decade after the Lauer-Cruise interview, the controversy and its aftermath continue to shape public discourse and media ethics. Some key lessons and implications include:

– The importance of professional standards and training for journalists and media professionals, especially in dealing with sensitive and complex issues related to mental health, religion, and personal beliefs;

– The need for transparency and accountability in media coverage, including the disclosure of conflicts of interest, biases, and potential risks to public safety and welfare;

– The value of diversity and inclusivity in public discourse and representation, to ensure that a range of perspectives and voices are heard and respected;

– The role of education and critical thinking in promoting evidence-based and rational approaches to personal and social issues, and in counteracting the influence of pseudoscience and misinformation;

– The importance of civic engagement and activism in holding public figures and institutions accountable for their actions and statements, and in advocating for policies and practices that prioritize public health and welfare over individual interests and beliefs.


The Lauer-Cruise interview was a complex and controversial event that exposed deep rifts and tensions in relation to media ethics, mental health, religion, and free speech. While it remains a source of debate and criticism, it also offers important lessons and insights for how we can better navigate these issues in the future, and ensure that our public discourse and decision-making are informed by reason, evidence, and compassion.

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