Dissecting The Matt Lauer Blame Game

By Alex Weprin 

The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz writes about Matt Lauer, and the pressure and criticism he has faced in the wake of “Today”,s ratings struggles and the maladroit departure of co-anchor Ann Curry.

NBC executives, including president Steve Capus, argue to Kurtz that the blame Lauer has faced is misplaced.

“The whole Ann transition really hurt us,” an NBC executive says. Lauer “was one of the few people who fought to do the transition in a different way—to take our time with it and not do it so rushed right before the Olympics. He wanted to do right by her, and we really didn’t.”


Capus confirms that “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.”

He adds: “If Matt is to blame for the ratings slippage then, is he the only one who gets credit for the two months of steady ratings gains we’ve enjoyed? It’s always a team effort. As I have said repeatedly, he is one of, if not the best, morning show hosts in the history of that genre. We are lucky to have him.”

Related: The Baltimore Sun‘s David Zurawik says that the days of media criticism are at a low-point, thanks in part to social media. Zurawik uses Twitter criticism of Lauer’s Thanksgiving Day parade performance as a jumping-off point.

The image of a solitary viewer Thursday watching the parade on TV, and tweeting snark, irony and even hate at Lauer via a laptop or iPhone, is one that worries me.  Ditto for the folks focusing on Diane Sawyer instead of the presidential election and tweeting very personal attacks suggesting she was tipsy.