Matt Lauer on Ann Curry's 'Today' exit: 'It was a hard time for everybody'
"Today" show host Matt Lauer reportedly gave a revealing interview about Ann Curry's departure from the morning program and how he offered to step down from the show after receiving bad press and low ratings.
Lauer spoke to The Daily Beast and the lengthy interview was posted on the site on Monday, March 11. The article opens with Lauer reportedly telling Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBC Universal, that he would leave if Burke believed the show was better without him.
"You're the best person who's ever done this," Burke told Lauer, according to the website. "We'll get through this."
Lauer said of the time period, "It was a hard time for everybody."
"We were getting kicked around a lot," he added. "Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved."
Lauer has co-hosted the NBC morning series since 1997. Curry, who stepped in as the initial replacement of co-anchor Meredith Vieira in 2011, left the show in a tearful farewell in June 2012. Curry was then replaced by Savannah Gurhtrie and the report calls Curry's exit "messy" and "abrupt."
"I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that," Lauer said to The Daily Beast.
It was around the time of Curry's departure that "Today" slipped behind ABC's "Good Morning America" in the ratings, which only became worse after Curry's exit. Many viewers blamed Lauer for the Curry situation. However, Lauer says that he urged the network to give Curry more time to develop in her new role.
"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," Steve Capus, the former NBC News president, said, according to The Daily Best. "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."
It was also revealed in the interview that Lauer reached out to Katie Couric to return to her "Today" position before Curry was promoted to co-anchor.
Couric was reportedly open to the idea, as she was shopping her daytime talk show to networks. She and Lauer reportedly began talking about doing the talk show together and selling it to NBC, but Burke rejected the idea because it would be too expensive. Couric now has her own show, "Katie," on ABC.
According to The Associated Press, the account of the behind-the-scenes drama at the morning show was confirmed by show spokeswoman Megan Kopf.
Lauer reportedly signed a long-term deal to stay on the "Today" show in April 2012.
"Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team," Steve Capus, who was the NBC News president at the time, said, according to The New York Times. He stepped down from the role this past February.