"Today" has been going on defense for Matt Lauer, with executive producer Jim Bell speaking out against the latest negative story about the co-host on Thursday.
Lauer has been the subject of intense scrutiny since Ann Curry was ousted from "Today" in June. On Wednesday, Bell tried to take the heat off Lauer in a flurry of interviews with the Hollywood Reporter, the New York Times and the Associated Press. He said that Lauer doesn't deserve "blame" for the messy transition, and that the decision to replace Curry was "absolutely my call."
On the heels of those interviews, the New York Post reported that Bell reached out to the press because Lauer asked him to. A source told the paper that the co-host was "sick of being the punching bag" and felt that Bell "didn’t take accountability for all the ratings drama." Bell's interviews are being called "the Yom Kippur attack," according to the Post.
Bell denied the report. “This is exactly the kind of false story that led me to do these interviews in the first place," he told the paper.
The Post's report is the latest example of the bad press Lauer has been getting. He recently dismissed a story that said he was flipping out behind-the-scenes over fallen ratings, and his popularity has taken a battering.