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

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | March 27, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | March 27, 2013 |

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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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.