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In the months since Ann Curry left NBC’s Today Show in June 2012, Matt Lauer has been widely criticized as the cause for her messy departure. He’s been quiet the entire time, although he has finally spoken out in a new interview.
Lauer spoke with the Daily Beast about how far the show has fallen. It once claimed a 16-year winning streak as the most-watched morning show in America, but ABC’s Good Morning America has broken it. Lauer’s public image was also tarnished by Curry’s exit.
“It was a hard time for everybody,” Lauer told the site. “We were getting kicked around a lot. Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved.”
Lauer added that even he thought the network didn’t handle the transition from Curry to Savannah Guthrie correctly. “You don’t have to be Einstein to know that,” he said. “It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well.”
Despite all the reports to the contrary, Lauer and Curry were supportive, with Lauer hoping that Curry would be given more time before being forced out. Former NBC News chairman Steve Capus said that Lauer “was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann’s throughout the entire process. It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with.”
NBC Universal Chief Executive Steve Burke even told the Daily Beast that Lauer was ready to quit, too, but Burke turned that down.
As for all the gossip that surrounded the issue, Burke called it “hurtful at some level but it is what it is.”
E! News notes that Lauer also sounded optimistic about the future, saying that “being No. 2 in the ratings is a real shot in the arm, a kick in the pants...It makes you hungrier...I don't think it's a bad thing to have a fire lit under your ass.”