NBC executives defended Matt Lauer and the lack of his involvement in replacing former "Today" co-host Ann Curry in a Newsweek/Daily Beast article released on Monday.
The article, written by Howard Kurtz, featured interviews with NBC News president Steve Capus and other NBC executives with knowledge of the transition. Capus said "anger [has] been unfairly placed on" Lauer after the network decided to replace Curry with the "Today" show's former 9:00 a.m. host, Savannah Guthrie.
The messy morning show shake-up caused many viewers, particularly fans of Curry, to tune away from "Today," upset by the perception that the the network would so publicly mistreat the host of its beloved morning show. Ratings continuously slipped throughout Curry's final months, and have yet to bounce back. As Kurtz writes, many viewers blamed Lauer, thinking that he was responsible with replacing Curry with Guthrie.
An NBC executive told Kurtz that Lauer "was one of the few people who fought to do the transition in a different way—to take our time with it and not do it so rushed right before the Olympics. He wanted to do right by her, and we really didn’t."
This is not the first time the network has defended Lauer. After Curry's tearful goodbye, the then-executive producer of "Today," Jim Bell, defended Lauer in a flurry of interviews, and taking responsibility for the decision.
While Lauer has been blamed for Curry's ousting, it seems as though viewers are also reluctant to warm up to Guthrie. In the November issue of Vogue, Guthrie discussed the rocky transition. "I am incredibly grateful to be given an opportunity to do a job that a lot of women I respect and admire have done before me...and I respect that the transition has been difficult for our viewers," she said. "Change is hard."