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The Morning Show Wars Are Getting Downright Nasty: Matt Lauer Scowls in Anderson Cooper's General Direction

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | March 27, 2013 | Comments ()


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While the late-night wars are simmering, with Jimmy Fallon expected to take over "The Tonight Show" next year, there's a more acrimonious, nastier morning-show war going on over on NBC's "Today" show. Once the dominant morning show in the ratings, things began to take a turn for the worse when Meredith Viera left "Today," which left no decent buffer between the glib Matt Lauer and the "Today" show audience. NBC and Lauer, however, assumed that the deteriorating ratings had to do with Ann Curry's colder interviewing style, as well as her deeper perspective on the news. It's the morning, and they assumed that we didn't want to hear about all the rotten things going on in the world, not when Jessica Simpson is pregnant or Blake Lively has got a new puppy.

So, NBC shitcanned Ann Curry, and Ann Curry cried on the air, and Ann Curry turned away from Matt Lauer when he tried to console her, and now everyone hates Matt Lauer with the fire of Al Roker's appetite. "Today" show ratings plummeted, and now ABC's "Good Morning America" is winning the ratings wars, and Robin Roberts is America's hero for surviving and continuing to survive a series of cancer-related health scares (and for real, Robin Roberts is amazing). Of course, Ann Curry is still under contract over on NBC, buried where no one can see her and be reminded of their folly, although they did insist that Curry not tweet any sympathizing well-wishes to Roberts because it would like like Curry was sympathizing with the "enemy," which is maybe the sh*ttiest turn in this entire saga.

In the past few weeks, as Matt Lauer has attempted to rehabilite his image, lots of really sh*tty things have come out about the man, like the fact that he doesn't like to be filmed holding a knife or the fact that he never really liked Ann Curry in the first place.

It's become clear, in fact, that his popularity has plummeted. His likability rating -- or his Q score -- is hovering near Mel Gibson levels, and there's been a lot of discussion about kicking him to the curb. There's even been talk of Lauer taking over for Alex Trebek on "Jeopardy," which would be a softer landing than Lauer deserves.

The latest turn? Apparently, NBC approached Anderson Cooper about replacing Lauer, and Lauer found out, and Lauer pissed nails, according to Deadline.

I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN's Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year. After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.

Lauer is a dick, and Anderson Cooper would be perfect for the "Today" show. But Cooper also filmed a pilot for a new CNN show recently with Kathy Griffin, seeking to capitalize on the chemistry they have on their New Year's Eve specials. Those two together, actually, would make for a fantastic morning show on any network. It wouldn't be very newsy, but it's always fun to watch Griffin make fun of Cooper and reduce him to embarrassed giggles. Anderson Cooper giggles, after all, could fuel the Internet. Plus, who doesn't want to see Griffin extract the real story out of this saga out of Cooper for the nation's televisual enjoyment?

I should add, too, that Letterman tried to pry some information out of Brian Williams last night over the situation, but Williams -- hilariously, awkwardly -- would have nothing to do with it.



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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • The gorilla in the room is that the best morning show is the previous night's double-feature of Stewart-Colbert. It's smarter, funnier, shorter (ads can be skipped or ignored), without all the annoying local weather and need to self-justify.

  • e jerry powell

    I don't know how it will affect his popularity with anyone else, but I'd tune in to Today every freakin' morning if Lauer did the whole show dressed as a Chippendale's waiter.

  • chanohack

    Tempting, but still not enough for me.

    Anderson, however...

  • e jerry powell

    Fair enough. I was thinking in terms of both the man-candy aspect and the public humiliation aspect. Two-for-one always works for me; I'm all about the efficiency.

  • chanohack

    I'm not convinced Lauer would be publicly humiliated by minimal clothing. But if he would, sure. Everybody wins.

  • chanohack

    I guess it's too much to hope for that NBC and ABC kill each other off in the battle and everyone is forced to watch CBS This Morning which is 65% less fluffy, 82% more newsy, and has 100% more Charlie Rose. Then people could become as obsessed as I am with Nora O'Donnell and whether or not she has a thing for Charlie, Charlie has a thing for her, or if they have a thing for each other and are totally doing it.

    Like I said, that's probably too much, so I'll root for Anderson. He's a delight.

  • John W

    What we need is an Anchorman style brawl between all the Morning and daytime hosts and all the late night hosts. Last person standing gets to host everything.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I don't think I want to see men beating the living bitchcakes out of their female co-workers *for realsies*, Kathie-Lee notwithstanding.

  • e jerry powell

    Oh, come on, can't Kelly Ripa and Kathie Lee Gifford have a deathmatch where they both die at the end? We all win then.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I never anything about same sex pummeling.

    How about a baker's dozen of Kathie Lee's Christmas album caught in a fan belt vs season 2 of Hope & Faith trapped down some kind of shaft with Susan Lucci officiating? Whatever happens next is not something I want on my conscience--that's full. But I'll watch.

  • Tinkerville

    You can not imagine the fucks I do not give about morning news shows.

  • Kristen Mc

    Ugh, Matt Lauer is such a total dbag. One time, back when Katie was still on, she was throwing back to him, and he replied, "alright Matt...I mean Katie". It's like a total metaphor for how much of a douchepumper he is.....and junk.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ok, I *still* don't want Anderson Cooper to go back to straight-up fluff. Stay with 360, Coop.

    ...as well as her deeper perspective on the news.

    I get mad when I read things like this, because maybe in the context of The Today Show Ann Curry was deep news, or maybe she was a real journalist before she did The Today Show, but she was a terrible interviewer, asking leading and/or ridiculous questions that answered themselves ("does it make you sad your son was killed in a freak accident?"), and overdoing the empathy-projection.

    But as for the Lauer/Cooper stuff - it's pretty amazing the power of rumors and suggestion. If NBC wasn't upfront with Lauer about talking to Cooper, then he doesn't know which side is putting out feelers. It's all more Machiavellian than a stupid morning show deserves, but that's a billion dollar enterprise will do for ya.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Agreed. Matt's Lauer's indefensible treatment of Ann Curry doesn't retroactively make Ann Curry an interviewing genius cut down in her prime. And she could be as obsequious as anyone with celebrities if the mood took her, which it did. I think she's just better suited for the kind of field work where doesn't matter if you can't hear the interviewee for all of the empathy 'mmms'. I sound like I'm putting her to roast which I don't want to do and I'm certainly not defending Lauer, who couldn't fathom that he might have been behind the show's failing's ratings (bleh), but I don't understand the hagiography and with her vindication at hand there's isn't a need to construct one.

  • Slash

    I would TOTALLY watch an AC-Kathy Griffin show.

    Right now, I rarely watch any morning show for more than a few minutes at a time. I mostly watch the local one for weather and traffic.

    As soon as "celebrity" (esp. reality show) crap comes on, I can't change the channel fast enough.

  • chanohack

    The first hour of CBS isn't bad. However, they are totally conservative, if you care about that. (Fox News likes their viewers to think they are the only conservative news agency, but I will argue in front of anyone that the CBS people are righties.)

  • Fredo

    I think my folks are amongst the last to watch the Today Show religiously. But that's more out of habit at this point.

    Remember when Today was #1 with perky Katie and friendly Matt and loveable Al? Well, Katie was found to be a cold and calculating, Matt was revealed as a major league d-bag and Al sharted his undies in the White House.

    Ironically enough, Al is the one least covered in doodoo.

  • Puddin

    I have only watched Today on mute at the gym, and even in that context Matt Lauer seems like an a-hole. I welcome his slow, painful, and very public demise.

  • John G.

    the gym puts me in bad mood too

  • Kballs

    he doesn’t like to be filmed holding a knife

    That's because America would see the murderous greed he has for carving human flesh the moment a knife handle presses into his eager palm.

  • John G.

    Yes, it's a deep psychological schism in his brain. He can't take seeing any pictures of himself holding knives, because in Matt Lauer's kill room in his winter estate where he traps hikers every winter to torture and kill, the walls are all mirrors and there are cameras everywhere. His kills are captured on film and hung around the room, so that as they wait to be murdered his victims get to see what's in store for them. Any reminder of this while he's in character as "Matt Lauer the morning show guy" will cause a violent episode. He's not sure, but he thinks that Anne Curry knew.

  • Jennifer Schmennifer

    He's bad at hiding it, per this exchange from one of the links:

    Matt Lauer, the co-host of the Today show, turns it over in his hand, marveling at the blade.

    “Come to papa!” he says.
    [snip]

    “You know how long it is?” inquires a producer who sits alongside Lauer with a sheaf of notes.

    “It’s long enough to get right to your heart, is what it is,” says Lauer.

  • I think the Cooper/Griffin NYE stuff works so well because it's once a year. Don't get me wrong, I love it and my wife and I have been watching it pretty religiously for the past 3 or 4 years (we're old and lame, you see), but I can see it losing some of the novelty if it was on every day or even every week.

  • six6sixwitch

    Fuck the Today Show. Stupid fluff programs like that contributing to the overall stupidity of the woefully uninformed masses.

  • dizzylucy

    I used to catch about 15-20 minutes of it each morning for a basic news rundown. They lost me with the incessant Michael Jackson death coverage. When I tried going back a few months later, it was all Gosselins and Kardashians. No thanks.

  • zeke approves of this message

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I hear that people have better things to do in the morning than watch morning shows.

  • Erin S

    Holy shit. I didn't know how badly I wanted an Anderson Cooper/Kathy Griffin morning news show until this moment.

  • JJ

    I hear that this is a game of gossip telephone. I also hear that if I say that I heard something, I can assume it to be news. I heard a fly buzz when I died.

  • John G.

    where do you think you are? gossip telephone is pajiba nation's chief export.

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