Surprise ‘Today’ Trip to Kabul, With Curious Timing

By Andrew Gauthier 

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The New York Times

To an untrained eye, Matt Lauer and Al Roker‘s trip to Afghanistan last week may have seemed like yet another morning television stunt.

Mr. Lauer and Mr. Roker were co-hosts of NBC’s “Today” show from Kabul last Tuesday and Wednesday, the same week that Diane Sawyer bid farewell to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the chief competitor of “Today.” The morning shows are legendarily competitive; they will go to great lengths–and sometimes even on great, lengthy trips–for a ratings advantage.

So was the war zone trip an attempt by NBC to blunt the ratings for Ms. Sawyer’s final week, or at least divert attention from her? No, it was coincidental–but NBC couldnt explain why until after the hosts were already in Afghanistan.

“Today” had been in talks with the Pentagon for weeks about taking the morning show to Afghanistan. More…