Kathie Lee Gifford On Letter Defending Matt Lauer: People Were 'Lining Up' To Sign It

Kathie Lee Gifford stops by Access Hollywood Live on January 5, 2011 Kathie Lee Gifford stops by Access Hollywood Live on January 5, 2011

Kathie Lee Gifford is not one to sit idly by when witnessing what she perceives is an injustice, especially when the subject of the attacks is a friend – in this case, Matt Lauer.

After weeks of buzz claiming Matt was behind the decision to force Ann Curry out at the “Today” show, Kathie Lee penned a letter defending Matt, which was signed by over 200 of their co-workers.

“This was not a hard thing to do, because I literally wrote it and I signed it first [then] people were lining up,” Kathie Lee – who was awarded the Mother of Achievement Award from American Mothers at a luncheon on Friday — told Access Hollywood in a new interview. “They’d heard about it — they were literally taking the pen out of my hand, to sign.”

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Kathie Lee’s letter read: “We the people of the ‘Today’ show who work side by side, day by day, year in and year out with Matt Lauer are tired of unfounded and unrelenting stories by faceless characters regarding his character and reputation… No one coerced us to sign this. With our signatures we stand in support of our colleague and friend.”

When she gave Matt the letter, he was speechless.

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“He just really didn’t even say a thing he just looked at me and he gave me a great hug,” Kathie Lee said, becoming emotional as she recounted the touching moment. “I don’t like injustice. I don’t like it when it happens to a little kid in the Bronx, I don’t like it when people are standing in a line to watch their loved one cross a finish line [at a] marathon, I don’t like it when bad people do evil to good people.”

Her initial intention was to publish the letter as a full-page ad in USA Today, but Matt put the kybosh on that plan – a move Kathie Lee said speaks to Matt’s humility.

“Matt said to me, ‘Kathie, I’m not comfortable with that’ — that’s basically what he said,” she said. “He said, ‘It means the world to me that you guys all did this but that’s enough.’ And you know what? That’s the proof of the character I’m talking about with this man!”

Included in the signatures were Matt’s “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Willie Geist and Hoda Kotb – but Ann Curry’s signature was missing.

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“This is not about Ann. Ann’s a member of our family of course at NBC, she’s still on [‘Rock Center with Brian Williams’] and she’s still on the Nightly News,” Kathie Lee explained. “She’s traveling so much — literally we’ve just been doing this the last couple of weeks and nobody has seen Ann.

“So, I would have loved to have had Ann sign. I would have loved to have given her the opportunity to, but I still to this day don’t know where Ann is!” she added with a laugh.

-- Erin O’Sullivan

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