Matt Lauer: ‘I Just Burst Out Crying’ When Obama Gave Biden Medal of Freedom

Following a gushing report on Friday’s NBC Today about President Obama awarding Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, co-host Matt Lauer revealed that he was overtaken by emotion while watching the White House ceremony on Thursday: “So I'm glad there were no cameras in my apartment yesterday because I was just sitting there weeping....I just burst out crying when I saw that moment. It was incredible.”

Introducing the three-minute segment, Lauer proclaimed: “...there was something special in Washington yesterday. It's getting a lot of attention. President Obama surprising his vice president, Joe Biden, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.” Correspondent Andrea Mitchell followed: “It was extraordinary, Matt....Barack Obama had a parting gift for his vice president, Joe Biden. Also on display, the kind of friendship rarely seen between high-powered politicians here in Washington.”

Amid clips of the event, Mitchell offered a series of fawning declarations on the Obama-Biden relationship:

It’s a bond like we've never seen before....At times, more like a White House buddy movie than a political partnership....After eight years, the Bidens and Obamas forging a friendship so close they consider themselves family....Their friendship often reaching a fever pitch on social media. Biden tweeting a photo of a friendship bracelet on the President’s birthday: “Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever.”

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Wrapping up the report, she touted: “...[Biden] has plans for an active life after the White House. There’s the cancer moonshot, there’s teaching, establishing a foreign policy institute, and who knows what else for a man who seems forever young.”

It was then that Lauer noted his weepy reaction. Fill-in co-host Meredith Vieira cheered the event as being “So beautiful.”

Here is a full transcript of the January 13 report:

7:18 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Not sure if you saw this, but there was something special in Washington yesterday. It's getting a lot of attention. President Obama surprising his vice president, Joe Biden, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That is the nation's highest civilian honor. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has more on that emotional ceremony. Andrea, good morning.

ANDREA MITCHELL: It was extraordinary, Matt. Good morning. As they prepare to leave the White House, Barack Obama had a parting gift for his vice president, Joe Biden. Also on display, the kind of friendship rarely seen between high-powered politicians here in Washington.     

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama’s Big Surprise for Biden; Awards Emotional VP the Medal of Freedom]

BARACK OBAMA: This has been quite a ride.

MITCHELL: It’s a bond like we've never seen before.
                                
OBAMA: The best vice president America's ever had, Mr. Joe Biden.

[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]

MITCHELL: At times, more like a White House buddy movie than a political partnership.

OBAMA: This also gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.

MITCHELL: And then, a surprise parting gift for Biden, who thought he was simply coming over for a farewell toast with the Obamas – until he saw his whole family.

OBAMA: For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]

JOE BIDEN: I don't deserve this, but I know it came from the President's heart.

BIDEN [TO ANDREA MITCHELL]: He's a truly, truly decent man. I remember, you know, when Beau was first diagnosed and he rushed to the hospital. And he came literally running down the hall in his shirt sleeves. Is he alright? Is he alright?

MITCHELL: After eight years, the Bidens and Obamas forging a friendship so close they consider themselves family.

OBAMA: My family’s so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens.

MITCHELL: In their darkest hour, the Bidens asking the President to give the eulogy for their son Beau.

OBAMA: I am grateful every day that you’ve got such a big heart, and a big soul, and those broad shoulders. I couldn't admire you more.

MITCHELL: Their friendship often reaching a fever pitch on social media. Biden tweeting a photo of a friendship bracelet on the President’s birthday: “Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever.”

OBAMA: To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.

BIDEN: I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of – part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country. Mr. President, I'm indebted to you. I'm indebted to your friendship.

MITCHELL: After nearly 50 years in public service, Joe Biden tells me he has no regrets about his decision not to run for president again. It was the best thing for his family at the time. And that he has plans for an active life after the White House. There’s the cancer moonshot, there’s teaching, establishing a foreign policy institute, and who knows what else for a man who seems forever young. Matt, Meredith?

LAUER: So I'm glad there were no cameras in my apartment yesterday...

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Why? What –

LAUER: ...because I was just sitting there weeping.

VIEIRA: Oh, crying, right. So beautiful.  

LAUER: I just burst out crying when I saw that moment. It was incredible. Andrea, thank you very much.


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