As the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics approach, there appears to be no end in sight to the Ryan Lochte mess. The gold medal-winning U.S. swimmer — who issued a quasi-apology on Friday for “not being more careful and candid” about his account of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro — was the subject of a heated debate between Al Roker, Billy Bush, and Natalie Morales on Today.
“He lied,” the Today co-anchor/weather guru told Bush. “He lied to you. He lied to Matt Lauer. Lied to his mom. He left his teammates hanging while he skedaddled.”
Bush tried to soften the situation, telling Roker to “calm down,” but when he said that Lochte “lied about certain details,” Roker and co-anchor Morales took objection. And when Bush used the phrase “sure, he embellished,” Roker cut him off, saying, “No, no, no, no — he didn’t embellish. He lied.”
“He created all of these moments to make himself look like, ‘I’ve stared them down in the face… I mean, come on!” Morales scoffed to Bush, who recently joined the Today team from Access Hollywood.
“We agree to disagree,” said Roker to Bush, who noted during the segment that IOC spokesman Mario Andrada did not want an apology from the swimmers, and that “we haven’t seen the video of the vandalism.”
Roker and Bush ultimately found some common ground, agreeing Lochte should not have lied to his mother.
Check out the now-viral exchange, above, which includes some intense straw-stirring by Roker.
Lochte will have another chance to clarify his story by talking with Lauer. Portions of that interview will air Saturday night at 8 p.m. during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, and you can see more of it Monday morning on Today.
Earlier this week, Lochte told Bush he and fellow American swimmers Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger were held up at gunpoint last weekend. On Thursday, when asked during an MSNBC appearance whether he bought Lochte’s story, Bush said, “I buy the general flow of the story — some details and embellishments were made.”
“Ryan Lochte, even when he hasn’t been out all night long, in his most lucid state, isn’t the greatest weaver of fantastic tales,” Bush continued. “But in this case, he was so perfect in everything he told me, it seems like generally that had to have happened.”
After an investigation, Brazilian authorities said there was no evidence to support such a claim, and security footage that has been released seems to depict the swimmers committing an act of vandalism at the gas station. Lochte returned to the United States, but Bentz and Conger were detained by Brazilian police over the incident. The USOC, along with Lochte and Bentz, have released apology statements.