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Matt Lauer admitted that Ann Curry’s Today Show exit could have been smoother for all involved.
The longtime NBC anchor opened up about Curry’s departure from the show late last year, admitting you don’t have to be “Einstein to know that” it wasn’t handled well.
“I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that,” Lauer told The Daily Beast. “It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well.”
In fact, although it was widely reported Lauer had something to do with Curry’s exit, he actually campaigned for the network to ease into it and even offered to leave if executives thought it would be appropriate.
Former NBC News president Steve Capus told the Daily Beast “When Matt was informed that we had made this decision, his good counsel was to go slow, to take care of Ann, and to do the right things.”
He added, “He 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.”
Chief executive of NBC Universal, Steve Burke, added that Lauer came to him one day, offering “If you think the show’s better off without me, let me know, and I’ll get out of the way.” But he recalled assuring Lauer, “You’re the best person who’s ever done this. We’ll get through this.”
TV Guide reports that Lauer explained the way they planned to “get through” it was by redesigning the show. He explained, "We're choosing more inspiring stories. It's a much more positive show, a more uplifting show. Much of the darkness is gone, by design."
He also said of being the No. 2 ranked show, "In some ways 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 a--."