‘Today’ Uses News Story to Aggressively Promote Primetime Programming

By Andrew Gauthier 


What appeared to be an intriguing news item –unsuspecting citizen helps fight crime–had another layer of interest for NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. The show featured an interview with Justine Faeth, a young New York City office assistant who put her obsession with NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” to use to help the NYPD nab a thief.

On June 15th, when a man without an appointment visited Faeth’s office and asked for a cup of water, Faeth directed him to the office kitchen, and the man left shortly after, depositing his cup and a tissue on her desk. Faeth held on to the trash, which was ultimately used as evidence to charge Kevin Moore, a suspect in several similar investigations, with burglary and grand larceny on Aug. 21.


“I knew to save the cup at least for fingerprints–the show taught me that,” Laeth told the New York Post.

During the show’s first hour, both “Today” anchors Ann Curry and Matt Lauer marveled at Faeth’s “sleuthing” skill. “Law & Order” star Mariska Hargitay even made a “surprise” phone call into the show to congratulate Faeth for her “presence of mind,” and told her, “I am impressed! I better watch out for my job!” Faeth asked about her co-star, the brooding Elliot Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, and the anchors and actress even hinted at a walk-on role for Faeth on “SVU” in the future.

The segment was conveniently followed by a commercial for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

This isn’t the first time that the “Today” show has used its news time to promote its primetime programming. Gawker obtained emails in July that detailed the show’s decision to drop a live interview with Rod Blagojevich in December, the morning that he was arrested by the FBI, in order to cover the announcement of Jay Leno‘s new 10pm show.