Ann Curry couldn’t even look at her cohost Matt Lauer during her last days on the set at Today. According to one report, she refused to hug him on the air. Rumors at the time had it that Lauer had played a key role in getting her fired after just a year at the show. But now, as Today falls farther behind Good Morning America in the ratings, NBC has its own new spin on the story: We’ve got it all wrong! Lauer was the good guy!
The Daily Beast‘s Howard Kurtz reports now that Lauer tried to convince his bosses to give Curry more time to find her place in the new job, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the narrative spun at the time: That Lauer had been instrumental in her dismissal. Lauer tells Kurtz that although Curry wasn’t his first choice for the job, he was totally supportive once she had it. And he knew the show would suffer if she was fired, see, so you can’t blame him for the fact that that’s exactly what’s happening now!
As Vanity Fair notes, the timing of this new story is a little suspicious. A few weeks ago, the Daily News reported that Today was contemplating ousting Lauer amid low ratings and a persistent audience suspicion that Lauer had helped boot Curry. Now, some suspect, Lauer and NBC insiders have granted interviews to Kurtz to try to rescue his reputation — and the show’s ratings.
“It was a hard time for everybody,” Lauer tells Kurtz. “We were getting kicked around a lot. Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved.” He admits the transition between Curry and current co-host Savanna Guthrie wasn’t smooth. “I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that,” he says.
Conveniently for Lauer, ”sources familiar with the process,” including former NBC News president Steve Capus, tell Kurtz that Lauer was in fact the good guy in the whole debacle: Lauer “repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to slow things down and give Curry more time before she was pushed into a reduced role,” Kurtz reports.
Someone wants America to believe that Lauer is a super-professional, genuine good guy. Are you buying it?