When Michael Keaton made the same mistake onstage later in the night, it sparked a #GoldenGlobesErrors hashtag, where people combined the names of other movies with black stars. But Hager has a job on “Today” that required her to be on television Monday morning, so she had to address the mix-up.
“I had an error in the night which I have to apologize for,” Hager said. “When I was interviewing the incomparable Pharrell, who I adore, I accidentally — and in the electricity of the red carpet, which I’ve never done one before — called ‘Hidden Figures’ ‘Hidden Fences.'”
“I have seen both movies. I thought they were both brilliant. I have interviewed casts from both of the movies. And if I offended people, I am deeply sorry. It was a mistake because I am — y’all know I’m not perfect. I am authentic, but a human,” she continued, her voice starting to shake a bit. “And what I didn’t want to do is make anybody feel lesser than who they are.”
“I apologize to the cast, to Pharrell, but it was a mistake,” Hager said. “I hope we can move on.”
“Today” weatherman Al Roker immediately stepped in to defend his colleague. “All of us that know you, know your heart, and know that that was a mistake,” he said. “We’ve been in live situations … and you make a mistake. Look, I forgot ‘Braveheart’ when I was interviewing Mel Gibson last night.”
“And you called Jessica Biel Jessica Alba!” piped up co-host Natalie Morales, who, incidentally, referred to Amazon’s “Transparent” as “Transgender” on the red carpet.
Then Roker turned his attention to those who mocked her, slamming everyone who helped make “Hidden Fences” a meme. “This culture of Twitter and people waiting to pounce, to get on people for — it’s just got to stop. It’s got to stop somewhere,” he said. “Because it’s just ridiculous.”
“You know, I typically have a pretty thick skin because I’ve lived through a lot,” said Hager, the daughter of former president George W. Bush. “And you can say whatever you want to say about me. But to act as though I don’t care about, um, people, really hurt. And it did.”
“It was ridiculous,” Roker added. “For the New York Times to pile on — to repeat the tweets, it’s just a cheap shot. I really think so.”
Morales went on to explain just how crazy the red carpet can get. “For anybody who doesn’t understand, like you said, the electricity of the red carpet, it’s like a mosh pit. You’re getting celebrities coming from you all directions. You don’t know who you’re going to interview next and you have, like, five people waiting for you,” Morales said. “There’s back-up on the carpet. And it’s a lot happening at the same time. And I think you had just interviewed the cast of ‘Fences.'”
“I do apologize,” Hager reiterated. “I hope they know how brilliant both films are. And I did not want to make anybody feel lesser.”
“Put that to bed,” Roker announced.
“We put it to bed, I hope,” Hager agreed.
“It’s done,” Roker concluded.
Later, Pharrell and “Hidden Figures” star Octavia Spencer responded to Bush’s apology: