Matt Lauer is not having a great week. A front-page story in the New York Times yesterday focused on the Today show's ratings troubles, and quoted staffers who think Lauer—whose popularity with viewers has been decreasing ever since the Ann Curry debacle—is on the way out. Indeed, Lauer discussed the Curry situation for the first time this week, telling the Daily Beast he thinks NBC failed to "[handle] the transition well" and insisting he didn't force Curry out. Today, the New York Post jumps into the fray, with a report that Lauer is the first choice to take over for Alex Trebek as Jeopardy host in 2016.
Lauer's Today contract is up in 2015, and Trebek is expected to step down the following year. (Also on the shortlist: Anderson Cooper, whose contract with CNN is up next year.) But one network insider tells the New York Daily News we should all be taking rumors of Lauer leaving Today with a grain of salt. "This is a fabricated story line," he says. "Matt is one of the most talented anchors in the history of morning television and there have been no discussions whatsoever about taking him off the show. It’s not even a consideration." Lauer himself addressed his image trouble yesterday at NBC's "upfronts" PR session, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I promise to spend all of my time and energy over the next several months trying to keep Savannah out of the headlines," he joked in reference to co-host Guthrie.