We haven’t really addressed the ongoing morning-show wars — except for Al Roker’s frozen face — since Savannah Guthrie took over for Ann Curry back before the Olympics. The facts are these, however: Today show ratings have been in a free fall ever since the Olympics, and the reason is not Savannah Guthrie. The reason is Matt Lauer, the biggest dick in morning television.
Let me explain:
Try to imagine who the typical viewer of a morning news program is? I won’t describe their characteristics because I don’t want to offend, but you know exactly who I’m talking about, and they are over-caffeinated, sensitive, and loyal, the kind of people who just turn it on the same station every goddamn morning and keep it running in the background while they’re getting themselves and the kids ready for work and school. These viewers LOVE GOSSIP and also think that MEAN PEOPLE SUCK.
And no, they were not huge fans of Ann Curry, who they thought was a little too smart and dry for their morning-show tastes, which is why Today ratings took a little dip when Ann Curry replaced Meredith Viera. But when the Today Show unceremoniously sh*tcanned Ann Curry, they martyred her. They transformed her from a detached news reader who wasn’t particularly good with interviews into a jilted co-host who was fired for being too smart for her own good. When Ann Curry got a little weepy on her Today Show farewell, while Matt Lauer sat by stoic, five million viewers Today Show viewers collectively thought, “F**k that guy. What an ass. He’s tossing Ann Curry aside for a trophy co-host.”
Meanwhile, over on Good Morning America, poor Robin Roberts gets cancer AGAIN, and ABC and the staff of GMA completely stand by her and show her unbelievable support. Morning show viewers, who are sensitive to these kinds of things, are all like, “Awwww, GMA is good people. While Matt Lauer is kind of a jackass who blamed his erudite co-anchor for a dip in ratings instead of blaming himself. A real man takes responsibility instead of scapegoating that poor woman. They DIDN’T EVEN GIVE HER A CHANCE.”
Then, last month, in a really awkward exchange on the Today Show, Al Roker passively-aggressively suggests ON THE AIR that Matt Lauer threw Ann Curry under the bus. Don’t think for a second that the soccer moms didn’t see that and flash their devil eyes at Matt Lauer (soccer moms are sweet on the outside, but pure manipulative evil on the inside). The result?
Matt Lauer’s likability ratings fall 25 percent. Suddenly, Good Morning America is taking over in the ratings game — winning eight of the last ten weeks, and dominating Today by nearly a million viewers one morning — and Matt Lauer is berating his staff, telling them they’re not even allowed to mention Good Morning America around him. Today doesn’t help its case when, on 9/11, they interview a Kardashian while everyone else is observing a moment of silence. Plus Angelina Jolie is basically calling Matt Lauer a jackass, and a lot of people still haven’t moved past the marital infidelity rumors, or rumors that Lauer fathered Natalie Morales’ kid.
Now, Matt Lauer is facing a pay cut if he can’t turn ratings around, and of course, all of these things are reported in US and People magazine, which is exactly what Today show viewers read because, remember, they LOVE GOSSIP and think MEAN PEOPLE SUCK, which just continues the cycle, which will continue to devolve until someone else is scapegoated in the way that Deborah Norville was scapegoated by the Today show back in 1991.
And that’s where we are. Today is losing, and they don’t even have a sense of humor about it (they spiked Ann Curry’s appearance in the Modern Family Emmy segment; Curry was originally supposed to fill the role of re-cast Lily, instead of Ken Jeong).
Tune in again this December when we bring you up to speed once again on the morning news show wars. Until then: Watch Sportscenter or listen to NPR in the mornings.