When one outlet advocates an opinion, the others run with it, and it’s soon too late to undo the damage. Such is the case with Matt Lauer’s Today Show downfall, and the constant assertions that he’s to blame for the ratings decline. So is he to blame? And will he recover?
While I’ve certainly taken my fair share of digs at Lauer for his aggressive interview style, the only people to blame for the ratings decline are Ann Curry and NBC. And before I get the backlash for bashing America’s sweetheart, allow me to explain. First, she never should have been promoted to that post in the first place. She was historically passed-over for that position for more appropriate hosts (see Meredith Vieria), and someone with a soft-spot felt it fair gift her with the role she’d been patiently eyeing. When she got it, it was immediately clear that she didn’t fit. She lacked the laid-back energy necessary for the show’s family-style morning atmosphere. Though she was perfect for hard news, the soft-stuff was an obvious struggle.
I don’t have inside sources at NBC, so I can’t confirm whether Lauer pointed out what was already clear to anyone watching — Curry didn’t fit, and she had to go. His nice-guy status began to tank when other news outlets did in fact blame him, and he was immediately painted as the bully who swiped the sweet-girl’s dream. My uneducated guess is that Curry and some inside-folks with an agenda leaked the stories. And Curry got public revenge when she openly weeped on the air, in what I can only describe as unprofessional. All I’ve ever left behind at a job is a thank you note and a smile, and while those jobs were not public, I certainly didn’t walk around the office complaining and crying about how I wish I could have “carried the ball.”
The subsequent fallout seems to be irreparable, and the only suggestion I’ve got is to commission Barbara Walters for a sit-down with Lauer and get the folks at NBC to give Ann Curry what she wants so she can stop leaking unflattering stories to the press about how NBC banned her from wishing cancer-stricken Robin Roberts well on twitter (Note: I don’t KNOW she leaked that, but again — it’s just an educated guess). Clean up your mess, guys. I’m sick of this garbage.