We're about five months removed from the dismissal of Ann Curry from the Today show, and NBC executives are still trying run interference between you, your hate for Matt Lauer, and Matt Lauer himself. Their latest attempt involves complaining about your tweeting habits to The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz. "Sadly ... this is the era in which we live: Venomous tweets somehow threaten to drown out all of those who praised Matt for his coverage." NBC News President Steve Capus told Kurtz. "Matt had nothing to do with Ann’s reassignment. He does not make those types of decisions. There has been an incredible amount of misplaced blame on Matt," Capus is quoted as saying. That sounds similar to what executives said on September 26, when the now-former Today executive producer Jim Bell came forward and tried to take the blame for Ann Curry's firing: "He is the host and does not have management responsibility. It was not his call. That was my call," Bell said. Bell didn't mention the "venomous tweets" back in September, so it would seem the Twitter hate has only grown since then.
Since Curry left the show in late June in a terribly awkward weepy fashion, Today was actually worse off heading into the Olympics and even lost its 16-year dominance over Good Morning America, which, despite the smiling faces and Kathie Lee's day-drinking, is worrisome to those involved in the matter. And this latest move—NBC executives complaining to Kurtz about all those nasty tweets, and so far after the fact—might just signal that the drop-off might have something to do with what viewers (or at least Twitter users) think of the network's $25 million man. Like this tweet over the weekend and the Thanksgiving Day Parade:
Matt Lauer isn't wearing a hat because his steaming, furious hate for Ann Curry is keeping his bald head warm.— Nathan Smith (@nathanisthebest) November 22, 2012
If that kind of vitriol weren't still an issue, NBC executives might not be working so hard to take all the blame for firing Curry, as they have been since September. The thinking there being: it's way harder to hate a suit who's supposed to be a jerk (especially one like Bell, who's since been "reassigned") than the smiley well-paid morning co-host.
As Kurtz points out, a lot of this Matt Lauer hate—and the theory that Lauer engineered Curry's firing—all stems from anonymous sources. And those embers of a story were huffed and puffed by reports of Curry not hugging him goodbye or instances like Curry being icy toward him when she visited the set in London during the Olympics. (We've seen a lot of vocal Curry supporters on our site.) And apparently, to morning-show wonks, he's totally Deborah Norville (which we guess is like the Newt Gingrich/Tonya Harding/Diana Ross of morning shows) Kurtz wrote:
Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, says he expected that Guthrie “would be seen as the hated replacement, in the same way Deborah Norville was vilified when she replaced Jane Pauley many years earlier. But it seems that Matt Lauer has become the new Norville, accused of forcing out Curry and blamed for the show’s inability to blunt Good Morning America’s newfound momentum.”
For what it's worth (Savannah Guthrie, listen up)...Norville now hosts Inside Edition.