Let’s face it. Matt Lauer, the popular, engaging backbone of NBC’s “Today,” wears the TV industry’s black hat right now. It is a serious point, for, as former tennis great Andre Agassi once put it, “Image is everything.”
And these days, Lauer’s image has seen better days.
Lauer continues to feel the reverberations of “Today” reporter Ann Curry’s messy exit from the show. Many conspiracy theorists will suggest that Lauer had something to with Curry’s leaving and some will go so far as to say Lauer wanted it to happen.
Since much of the program’s audience is comprised of homemakers who put family above all else, they took it personally when NBC dumped Curry rather unceremoniously. It was as if a kind of divorce between Lauer and Curry, two trusted friends to the viewers, had taken place.
The audience watching at home had to have someone to blame — and since it is hard to rail against a monolithic network, Lauer was a convenient target for their anger.
Or, perhaps something else is happening here. Maybe, just maybe, Lauer is the shrewdest judge of talent on TV. “Today” gave up its long-time lead in the ratings to rival “Good Morning America” of ABC because the show may have looked and sounded a bit predictable and stale. Lauer isn’t saying, either way, but perhaps he felt the show needed a new energy source. Who knows? If Lauer did, indeed, push for a change in the line-up, he may have done it as a result of his shrewd conclusion that “Today” needed new blood.
What will become of Matt Lauer? It has gotten to such a lamentable point that journalists now speculate that NBC could next drop Lauer or somehow lower his profile on the show.
Alex Wallace, the NBC News executive in charge of “Today,” told the New York Times that “we would like Matt Lauer to be in the chair as long as he would like to be. We hope that’s for many years to come.”
How many? Nobody is sure at the moment.