Lauer has been under fire since Ann Curry was replaced on the program last summer by Savannah Guthrie.
Gumbel was stuck in the middle of his own on-air triangle 24 years ago when Jane Pauley got pushed off the show for Deborah Norville.
Tuned In caught up with Gumbel Monday at the Peabody Awards, where his Real Sports was honored with the trophy for broadcasting excellence.
Gumbel said he and Lauer are best friends, who talk regularly and play golf.
“He’s going through a difficult time,” Gumbel admitted. “But I think part of that comes with the territory. It wasn’t that long ago when I was going through the same thing, at the same place.”
Gumbel also weathered a scandal at the morning broadcast, when a scathing memo about personnel was leaked in 1989.
“It happens, it’s part of life,” Gumbel said. “Nobody’s going to pass the plate and feel sorry for you.”
A morning juggernaut for years, Today’s ratings have not been able to recover since Curry’s departure, steadily losing to Good Morning America.
The reports followed that NBC was ready to yank the one-time popular newsman, who succeeded Gumbel in 1996. Many believe the network threw Lauer under the bus.
“I’m not close enough to it to know. I know when you’re in the center of the storm, it feels like your not being supported. Certainly, I felt that way when I was there.”
Gumbel would not reveal details of his conversations with Lauer.