Amidst plummeting ratings and eight months after the incident ignited outrage, Matt Lauer is finally speaking out about the ouster of his former Today show co-host, Ann Curry. Today has slipped into second place in ratings to arch-rival Good Morning America, and some are saying Curry’s firing has a lot to do with it.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, his first interview about the debacle at Today, Lauer admitted the once-dominant morning program mishandled Curry’s dismissal and the mistake did some serious damage to him and the show.
“I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well” expressed Lauer. “You don’t have to be Einstein to know that, it clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well,” he added
Lauer said the fallout of Curry’s firing, last fall, was so bad it prompted him to hand in his resignation to NBC chief Steve Burke, telling him, “If you think the show’s better off without me, let me know, and I’ll get out of the way.” Burke subsequently refused to accept the TV star’s resignation.
The interview comes at an interesting time; just weeks after the New York Daily News reported that Today was considering replacing the embattled anchorman because the ratings continue to trend in a negative direction.
The Daily News also reported that the interview was part of NBC’s attempt to clear up Lauer’s tarnished image to improve the struggling ratings. Network insiders claimed Lauer actually attempted to convince producers to handle Curry more gently before forcing her into a reduced role.
Former NBC News president Steve Capus told the Daily Beast, “When Matt was informed that we had made this decision, his good counsel was to go slow, to take care of Ann, and to do the right things,” “He was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann’s throughout the entire process. It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with.”
Curry reportedly did not share the same kind of chemistry with Lauer as did his previous female co-hosts, Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. During the ordeal, there were media reports suggesting he had pressured NBC executives into replacing his co-anchor.
Speculation on how things transpired was reinforced by the fact that a teary-eyed Curry appeared to turn her head to avoid a Lauer kiss during her goodbye segment on the show, and Al Roker made statements months after implying either Lauer or the Today show had thrown her “under the bus.”