Matt Lauer's career seems to be in serious need of crisis management. The Today show anchor, whose alleged role in Ann Curry's firing was pounced on by the press, is currently hanging on by a thread to his Today show title. But despite Lauer's efforts to keep his seat on the couch, the morning show's growing mess has NBC executives longing for a replacement.
Since Ann Curry was fired from the Today show last June, Matt Lauer's attempt to extricate himself from the Today show's troubles have proved futile. Lauer, who has been largely blamed for giving co-anchor Curry the boot, never made an attempt to hide his antagonistic on-air relationship with Ann Curry. Indeed, even prior to Curry's promotion to anchor, Lauer, according to New York Magazine journalist Joe Hagan, "openly complained" about Curry, and "simply didn't like her." When it came to his disdain for Curry, Lauer was, at one point, even overheard saying, "I can't believe I am sitting next to this woman."
Curry, who was ultimately fired from the Today show in a not-so-secretive scheme, battled bad chemistry with Matt Lauer until the very end. Describing her final months at the Today show as a time of "professional torture," Curry was mocked and made fun of for her on-air ensembles. In a three-part plot hatched by the Today show's executive producer, Jim Bell, Curry was selected as the scapegoat for the morning show's less-than-remarkable ratings and fired from the Studio 1A desk.
Following Ann Curry's messy June exit, Lauer's likeability - which has always been questionable - took a tremendous hit. At one point, the Today show anchor's Q score - a barometer for measuring the popularity of television personalities - was down by 25 percent. Joe Hagan's scathing New York Magazine piece dashed the disgraced daytime anchor's approval ratings even further, and media reporter Brian Stelter's recently released book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, only fueled media fire surrounding Lauer's sullied reputation.
Although Lauer, who initially requested that a team of crisis experts be called in to clean up the Today show mess, has recently taken NBC's PR efforts into his own hands, Today show executives are rumored to be performing their own crisis management. According to The New York Times, NBC has already singled out CNN's Anderson Cooper as a possible successor should the network decide to let Lauer go. Cooper, who makes approximately half of Lauer's 25-million-dollar salary, according to RadarOnline, was allegedly approached by an NBC executive to size up his interest in following in Matt Lauer's footsteps.
WATCH MATT LAUER CONFRONT RYAN SEACREST ABOUT RUMORS THAT THE REALITY HOST WILL BE HIS 'TODAY' SHOW REPLACEMENT
Although NBC denied the plan to fire Lauer and reinstate Cooper on the Today show coach, media reporter Stelter maintains that the network is just trying to cover up its covert operation. "What else would Anderson Cooper do on the Today show," Stelter said in a live interview. "He's not gonna come on and be the weather man." Indeed, The Times insists that NBC did make a call to Cooper, whose contract with CNN expires this fall. "Three people in the tight-knit television business, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the outreach was considered confidential, confirmed that the call was made this month," the New York newspaper writes. "But executives at NBC, while tacitly confirming their interest in Mr. Cooper, strenuously denied that they saw him as a short-term fix to the problems that have plagued Today, which fell to second place in the ratings last year after 16 years at No. 1."
Whether or not Anderson Cooper will replace Matt Lauer as the Today show's morning anchor, NBC seems to have a slew of highly-qualified candidates lined up to take over Lauer's longtime role. According to reports, reality host Ryan Seacrest could be another potential successor should Lauer be forced to forego his permanent post. The American Idol host has allegedly already met with Today show producer, Jim Bell, regarding an upcoming spot on the show.