From Matt Lauer to Billy Bush: TV News Hosts Who Made Dramatic Exits From the ‘Today’ Show
As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to permeate Hollywood and beyond, other prominent figures, such as journalists and politicians, have also been called out. Among them is Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC’s Today in November 2017.
While Lauer’s exit is one of the most dramatic in the show’s history, it’s far from the only one to spark controversy. Here’s a look back at some of those that preceded Lauer’s departure.
Anchor Matt Lauer replaced Bryant Gumbel, hosting alongside Katie Couric. He was called “the hunk next door,” and reported on several historic events, including 9/11.
After 20 years on Today, Lauer was unceremoniously fired following the allegations of sexual misconduct. His impropriety was quickly revealed to be a well-kept secret at NBC.
After Meredith Vieira left Today in 2011, she was replaced by Ann Curry, a long-time NBC correspondent with extensive international experience. However, Curry’s tenure on the show was short, and it appears that Lauer is at least partially to blame.
According to a 2013 article from NY Mag, “Curry felt that the boys’ club atmosphere behind the scenes at Today undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture.” Curry worked on other NBC projects for the next few years, before leaving in 2015.
One of the “Four Horsemen” of NBC in the 1960s, Frank McGee was an influential journalist of the time. He famously reported on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and actually lived with members of the military in Vietnam in order to help the creation of a documentary about the integration of black soldiers at the time.
McGee co-hosted Today alongside Barbara Walters for three years in the early 1970s. But his exit was sudden and unfortunate: Just days after taking a leave of absence from the show in 1974 due to his deteriorating health, McGee passed away from pneumonia, a complication that arose while he was receiving treatment for bone cancer.
Barbara Walters made waves as the first female co-anchor of Today, but Jane Pauley was a pioneer in her own right. The journalist became a mother to twins during her tenure, making her a role model for working mothers in the 1980s.
But in 1989, Pauley was edged out by Deborah Norville, in a move by the network that many assumed came as a way to replace her with a younger woman. However, when Pauley left, the show’s viewership dropped, and she was soon brought back with successful one-hour specials and a new co-anchor position on Dateline.
Just because someone is successful in another program, it doesn’t mean that they will be a good fit for Today. Pauley’s successor, Deborah Norville, is a prime example of that.
Norville was brought on after her success as the anchor of NBC News at Sunrise, but this didn’t translate to high viewership on Today. Despite winning an Emmy during her short tenure on the program, she did not return from her maternity leave in 1991.
The cycle of women being ousted from Today has continued into the present day. Tamron Hall came aboard in 2014 and marked an important benchmark for the program.
Today’s first black female co-anchor should have been more of a landmark for NBC, but Hall didn’t feel valued at the company. In 2017, Megyn Kelly took over her time slot, and Hall departed shortly after.
Historically, men have not been held accountable for their sexual misconduct (or proximity to it). This all changed in 2016 when, during Donald Trump’s run for president, a tape was released of him making very inappropriate comments about his treatment of women to Billy Bush prior to a taping of Access Hollywood in 2005.
In the weeks that followed, Bush was suspended, and eventually fired from, Today, which he had only been working on for a few months. One year later, Bush penned an op-ed, where he acknowledged his part in the incident.
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