03/14/2013 08:33 am ET Updated Mar 14, 2013

Matt Lauer's Popularity Has Fallen To New Lows: NY Times

Matt Lauer just can't seem to catch a break.

The "Today" co-host has recently begun trying to repair some of the lingering damage from the NBC show's disastrous firing of Ann Curry nine months ago, but he is being met with skepticism and a newfound wave of bad press.

For all of the drama surrounding him, Lauer remains a force to be reckoned with, at least in terms of his raw television skills. He has a formidable ability to combine journalistic rigor with the soft news that any morning show host must endure. NBC has repeatedly pledged its loyalty to him.

But Curry has become an albatross around his neck, following him wherever he goes.

Lauer told The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz on Monday that he had pushed for Curry to be treated more gently by NBC executives; those same executives backed up his version of events. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Lauer had been contemplating how to tackle the continuing toxicity surrounding "Today" for months. The strategy appears to have hit a snag, as a front page story in Thursday's New York Times brought more downbeat news for Lauer.

In it, Brian Stelter reported that some "Today" staffers think that the damage done to Lauer's reputation cannot be repaired, and that he will not sign another contract with the show; that his "Q score," widely seen as a top barometer of television popularity, has plummeted by more than 50 percent over the past two years and put him behind ABC rival George Stephanopoulos (though NBC disputes this); that NBC executives are concerned about his "connection" to the audience; and that Curry still feels betrayed by him. All in all, not a fun story to wake up to on a Thursday morning.

In response to the Times article, a source at "Today" told The Huffington Post, "not sure who this reporter is talking to, but it's nobody who knows what the show is really like or how the staff really feels."



Ann Curry's On-Air Style