Plenty of the British boy band's fans were furious when the Today show host
asked if Zayn Malik's absence was due to "substance abuse," and now Zayn himself is slamming Lauer's insinuation.
"There's been a lot of action on social media about him," Lauer said on-air after Liam Payne said that Zayn had a stomach illness. "Is it something more serious than just a minor illness? There have been rumors of substance abuse. What's going on?"
Not surprisingly, that didn't fly well with Zayn or the fans that loudly booed Lauer.
"I'm really angry and upset by what was said on the Today
show," the 21-year-old singer tells The Sun
. "I was really ill at the weekend, that's why I couldn't fly to America."
He also stressed how upset he was about having to miss out on promotion for their new album Four.
"I was gutted to have to miss album release day, but I'm going to be back as soon as I can," he adds. "As soon as I'm feeling better I'm going to join the guys and carry on with the promotion for the album."
But this isn't the first time One Direction has been embroiled in a drug scandal.
In May, Zayn and Louis Tomlinson were caught on camera in a video obtained by the Daily Mail
lighting up what looks to be a joint
, while joking about drugs.
Liam apologized for his bandmates
on Twitter later that month, writing, "I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways I apologise for that. We are only in our 20's we all do stupid things at this age. We all have a lot of growing up to do in an extreme circumstance I'm not making excuse but it's fact we are gunna fall short somewhere."
Though on Monday, Liam was cool under pressure following Lauer's surprising drug questioning, replying, "No, he's just got a stomach bug. He's okay. He's just at home. He just needs to rest. He's okay."