Willie Geist Fills in for Matt Lauer on ‘Today’

By Chris Ariens Comment

williemeredith_6-30.jpgMSNBC’s “Way Too Early” host Willie Geist made his debut as Matt Lauer’s fill-in on the “Today” show today, increasing his visibility 25 fold, from a couple hundred thousand viewers to about 5 million. Geist filled in for Ann Curry earlier this week on the news desk, but this was the first time he was at the anchor desk from 7am onward.

This got us thinking about who gets chosen for the plum spots at the nation’s #1 morning news show when the regulars are out.

NBC has no shortage of female anchors who can fill in for Meredith Vieira — Curry, Natalie Morales, Amy Robach, Tamron Hall.

But what about male fill-ins? MSNBC is often seen as the farm team for NBC News. Think: Williams, Holt, Morales, Robach, etc. But what male current MSNBC host would be trusted in Matt Lauer’s chair? Scarborough? Olbermann? Ratigan? Matthews?

Often, these fill in slots are worked in to the talent contracts and it’s no secret that Geist has the confidence of some people pretty high up at NBC. So will we see more of him on the “Today” show? Stay tuned. But as of tomorrow he’s back to his regular gigs at “Way to Early” and “Morning Joe.”

Earlier on MediaBeat: Willie Geist on His Show and Staying at MSNBC