TV industry insiders say no amount of NBC executive reshuffling can save the embattled “Today” show — until its longtime co-host throws in the towel.
Lauer has been blamed for the show’s ratings woes, which intensified in June when co-host Ann Curry was suddenly ditched and replaced by Savannah Guthrie.
“This problem is not going to go away until Matt Lauer does,” a prominent former NBC News exec told the Daily News on Tuesday. “He’s great, but fairly or unfairly, his brand is damaged.”
The sentiment comes just as a new production team is poised to take over “Today,” which has fallen into second place this year behind archrival “Good Morning America” in the cutthroat ratings race.
Many in the television news industry believe that the show lost its dominant place in morning TV because it became stale under Bell’s watch.
“You look at ‘GMA’ and they’ve got it going. They come across like a family, and the approach is appealing and feels fresh,” a high-ranking TV news insider told The News on condition of anonymity. “They’ve got that morning TV chemistry, which the current regime at ‘Today’ just seems to have let slip away.”
Former co-host Katie Couric recently told The News that she believed another issue with “Today” was that the show had gotten too soft and lost part of its focus on hard news.
A good example of that was how, on this year’s anniversary of 9/11, Bell chose to air a mindless interview with Kim Kardashian’s mom, Kris Jenner — in which she rambled on about her breast implants — rather than air a moment of silence at Ground Zero.
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