Reporting From Baghdad, I’m Ryan Seacrest

Rumors swirl as NBC tries to find Lauer replacement

The rumors last week about NBC considering Ryan Seacrest as a replacement for Matt Lauer on The Today Show raised some eyebrows in the blogosphere. Isn’t The Today Show still in the news division at NBC? And how exactly is Seacrest—host of American Idol and the celebrity gossip show E! News—qualified to do news?

Well, despite any fourth estate hyperventilating, his bona fides as a showman might simply trump his lack of experience in newsrooms.

The Seacrest rumor is only the latest step in the morning shows’ steady move toward a softer, more entertainment-focused—and ultimately more profitable—format that is only tangentially about news.

But if that’s the case, why not move the shows from the news divisions to the entertainment units? “They make so much money for the news divisions, the networks will never move them,” says one source with a long career in broadcast news.

“The only reason you would do it is if you’re shutting down the news division altogether,” says another former morning show executive.

But given the current state of the network news business, that clock might have already stated to tick. Wonder if Kim Kardashian can read off a teleprompter?