Matt Lauer admitted on Wednesday that "Today" is not where he wants it to be, and said that he takes full responsibility for the show's struggles.
The news has not been happy for "Today" in recent months, as "Good Morning America" has finally broken its 16-year winning streak and, with multiple wins in the ratings, proven that it is a durable new competitor for the top slot in morning television. Lauer's co-host Ann Curry has also had to weather a spate of bad press.
If there is one bright spot for "Today," it's that Lauer is sticking around, having signed a purported $25 million-a-year contract to stay on.
Of course, that eye-popping figure is one Lauer denies fervently. He appeared on "Piers Morgan Tonight" Wednesday and told guest host Donny Deutsch that he has never seen the real terms of his contract reported accurately.
But Lauer was relatively frank in his assessment of where "Today" is at the moment.
"Times are harder there right now," he said. "I think it's been well publicized. We are -- the show is not where I want it to be right now. The ratings are not where I want them to be ... I want to make it better."
He added that the show needed to be reinvigorated "in some ways that perhaps we have, you know, let up on in the past couple of years," and he said that he should take the blame for any failures it was experiencing.
"When people start to write articles about what might be wrong with the 'Today' show you know where you should point the finger," he said. "Point it at me because I have been there the longest. And it's my responsibility."
Lauer also said that viewers can figure out some of his political views if they watch the show enough.
"I do try to stay down the middle and yet I think over the course of time, if people watch our show ... they're going to know where I stand on certain issues by the questions I ask, the way I ask them or the questions I don't ask," he said.
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