Earlier this year, NBC poached ESPN rising star Jamie Horowitz to come in and fix the Today show, which has been struggling in the ratings for a couple of years now, falling behind Good Morning America. Many attribute that to the way they botched the demotion of Ann Curry and Matt Lauer’s declining favorability ratings. But earlier this year, Lauer’s contract was renewed, signaling that NBC wasn’t going to scapegoat Lauer.
It appears that Lauer is still calling the shots over there, too. Because less than three months into his tenure as the new Today show producer, Jamie Horowitz was fired, reportedly at the request of Lauer.
Why? Well, there were some rumors that Horowitz had alienated much of the Today show staff by running a Survivor-style newsroom, pitting anchors against producers and asking staffers to isolate the weakest links, creating a lot of instability and insecurity among the staff.
Another rumor has now surfaced suggesting another possibility: Lauer got Horowitz canned for trying to replace his co-anchor Savannah Guthrie with Hoda Kotb.
According to Page Six, Lauer wasn’t having it:
We’re told Lauer went to NBC News President Deborah Turness amid an anchor revolt sparked by rumors that, under a possible plan by Horowitz which had been discussed with NBC brass including Turness, Guthrie would be replaced by fourth-hour co-host Kotb and Natalie Morales could be eventually unseated as news reader by Josh Elliott.
An NBC source said: “Savannah, Natalie and Willie Geist heard about the plan and talked to Matt, who went to Turness and told her, ‘I want to keep these people,’ so she fired Jamie.
I’m sure that Kotb would’ve been a very good co-anchor, although splitting up with her wine-drinking partner, Kathie Lee Gifford, is just plain irresponsible. Ultimately, though, the Today show doesn’t need more turnover. It needs stability. Firing the on-air talent just creates more uncertainty, both for the organization and for the audience.
Plus, Lauer would probably get blamed for it, and that guy doesn’t need any more bad publicity.
Source: Page 6