Ode to Journalism

Matt Lauer And The Decline of NBC Today Show

 

Matt Lauer, the co-host of the Today show, turns it over in his hand, marveling at the blade.

“Come to papa!” he says.

Sitting at his glass-topped desk on the morning-show set, Lauer, meticulously outfitted in a green-gray plaid suit and a burnt-­orange tie, has asked the crew for props for a segment on new TSA rules allowing small knives on commercial airliners. A crewman offered up this specimen from his belt holster.

“You know how long it is?” inquires a producer who sits alongside Lauer with a sheaf of notes.

“It’s long enough to get right to your heart, is what it is,” says Lauer.

I casually try snapping a picture with my phone.

“Whoa!” Lauer yells, suddenly serious, pulling back the knife with the reflexes of a practiced fighter. For a moment, he seems unsettled. “Here’s Matt with a switchblade,” says Lauer, imagining the caption. “Great.”

If Matt Lauer doesn’t want to be seen with sharp knives, it’s because last summer his co-host Ann Curry was discovered with one in her back. She was swiftly replaced by a younger, more genial woman, Savannah Guthrie. Ever since, Lauer has been the prime suspect in Curry’s virtual demise. Five million viewers, the majority of them women, would not soon forget how Curry, the intrepid female correspondent and emotionally vivid anchor, spent her last appearance on the Today show couch openly weeping, devastated at having to leave after only a year. The image of Matt Lauer trying to comfort her—and of Curry turning away from his attempted kiss—has become a kind of monument to the real Matt Lauer, forensic evidence of his guilt.

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