Matt Lauer Grills One Direction About Drug Use on 'TODAY'

By McCarton Ackerman 11/18/14

Fans of the popular boy band took to Twitter to voice their outrage.

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Matt Lauer has sparked the fury of One Direction’s teenage fans after his pointed question about the drug use of band member Zayn Malik during a recent interview on TODAY.

One Direction was at Universal in Orlando, Fla., to promote their new album, but were missing Malik. Liam Payne explained that Malik had a “tummy bug” and couldn’t make the trip, but Lauer raised eyebrows by insinuating that Malik is an addict.

“Liam, there’s obviously a lot of concern. A lot of fans have been tweeting overnight. There’s been a lot of action on social media about him,” said Lauer. “Is it something more serious than just a minor illness? There have been rumors of substance abuse, what’s going on?”

Payne refused to take the bait and insisted Malik had a stomach bug. Those in the audience also began loudly booing Lauer and One Direction fans later took to Twitter to slam his line of questioning. “Leave it to Matt Lauer to spice up a One Direction album launch interview with inappropriate, rude leading questions,” wrote one fan.

Malik later spoke out against and denied any form of drug use. “I’m really angry and upset by what was said,” he told the Daily Sun. “I was really ill at the weekend. That’s why I couldn’t fly to America. “ A spokesman for One Direction said that Malik “will join the band for promotion for the new album as soon as he can.”

While it doesn’t appear that Malik has a drug problem, Lauer’s question wasn’t totally unwarranted. He and band member Louis Tomlinson were videotaped smoking what appeared to be marijuana while visiting Peru last May. However, marijuana is legal in Peru as long as it’s for personal use and the person is carrying less than eight grams.

Tomlinson declared that he wanted to “light up” as the car left a parking lot and a rolled cigarette appears to be lit shortly after. He then joked about a nearby police car escorting their van, declaring “One nil bitch! Look at this bitch! He's having a look. He's thinking, 'I'm sure I can smell an illegal substance in there.' And he's hit the nail on the head."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.