Matt Lauer talks about Ann Curry's controversial departure from "Today" more than a half year after she left the show. Speaking to The Daily Beast, he claims, "It was a hard time for everybody. We were getting kicked around a lot. Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved."
Responding to the backlash the show received for firing Curry, the longtime "Today" host admits, "I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that." He adds, "It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well."
Though so, Lauer admitted he preferred to have Katie Couric back on "Today" when Meredith Vieira left the show. He quietly approached Couric, who reportedly agreed to the idea. However, when NBC turned down her new talk show "Katie", she teamed up with ABC instead.
While some people blamed Lauer for Curry's firing, former NBC News president Steve Capus says Lauer "was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann's throughout the entire process." Capus goes on defending the 55-year-old journalist, "It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with."
Moreover, sources tell the site that Lauer "repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to slow things down and give Curry more time before she was pushed into a reduced role." Capus adds, "When Matt was informed that we had made this decision, his good counsel was to go slow, to take care of Ann, and to do the right things."
"Today" has been struggling to regain its No. 1 position after being defeated by "Good Morning America" since last year. As the show was gradually declining in ratings, Lauer once offered to resign if it's needed to save the show.
"If you think the show's better off without me, let me know, and I'll get out of the way," Burke recalls Lauer saying. Burke's response was, "You're the best person who's ever done this. We'll get through this."
Now Lauer has seen the positive side of being No. 2. "In some ways being No. 2 in the ratings is a real shot in the arm, a kick in the pants," he says. "It makes you hungrier ... I don't think it's a bad thing to have a fire lit under your ass."