In the final minutes of NBC News Group’s upfront presentation at the New York Public Library on Thursday afternoon, Today co-anchor Matt Lauer sidetracked briefly from thanking advertisers for their support of the show to address “what might be a teeny white elephant in the room.”
“All of us in this room that work for NBC News, we love covering the news. We hate being the news,” he said.
Lauer was referring of course to a slew of press this week surrounding Today and especially his role in its current second-place status. The anchor broke his silence on the messy ouster of Ann Curry in an interview with The Daily Beast, which included quotes from NBCU CEO Steve Burke and former NBC News president Steve Capus that sought to shoulder the blame for Curry’s removal, which has been largely foisted on Lauer.
There was the interview NBC News Group chairman Pat Fili-Krushel gave to the Los Angeles Times that said Today had become too complacent. Then Thursday’s New York Times reported that Lauer’s Q-score, which measures likability of TV personalities, has dropped precipitously since last year, prompting NBC to call a meeting of Today staffers to discuss focus group findings.
“You said all press was good press,” Lauer’s co-anchor Savannah Guthrie replied to him on stage.
“Yeah, that didn’t work out,” he said. “We want to go back to being the most-watched morning program and the least talked about morning program and I think we can succeed on both fronts.”