Former Today show anchor Bryant Gumbel was "embarrassed" when NBC named Sarah Palin co-host for a day last week. Hosts “used to be judged not just on their popularity, but the extent to which they were capable of interviewing someone or reporting on a situation, or able to have a degree of gravitas," Gumbel grumbled to Newsweek media critic Howard Kurtz. "Now that's secondary to being popular.” Kurtz characterized the choice of the "disastrous VP nominee" as a way to "poke fun at her know-nothing image while sprinkling some celebrity stardust on Matt Lauer and the gang" at Today.
It seemed to work. The show held its lead in its ratings war with Good Morning America the day Palin went head-to-head with arch nemesis Katie Couric, who was guest hosting for ABC. But GMA finally pulled ahead the following day and tied last Friday with Couric still at the helm.