A major shakeup is coming to NBC. Now that Matt Lauer has been fired due to alleged sexual misconduct, the network will need to find a permanent replacement. This will be the first time since 1994 that Lauer has not been present on Today.
So who might NBC bring in to replace its highest-paid and most famous anchor? Here are some potential options.
One strong contender within NBC is Willie Geist. Geist is currently the anchor of the Sunday edition of Today, having ascended to that position in 2016. He performs a pretty similar job to Matt Lauer on that show, and so the transition would be fairly smooth. Morning Joe viewers will also recognize Geist as a co-anchor.
Plus, Geist has proven himself capable of stepping in for Lauer already, having filled in for him on Today many times. He would be perhaps the safest and most expected choice.
However, what’s unclear is whether Geist is a big enough name for NBC. A market research firm recently shared data with Bloomberg suggesting that of the viewers they spoke to, only 16% were familiar with Geist. In contrast, about 50% were familiar with Lauer. So it’s possible NBC will want a bigger draw.
A less safe but widely speculated choice would be Megyn Kelly. Kelly left Fox News to join NBC in 2017, premiering her morning show in September. Megyn Kelly Today airs during the third hour of NBC’s morning programming.
By moving Kelly, NBC would be replacing an alleged sexual harasser with a victim of sexual harassment. Kelly has said that Roger Ailes sexually harassed her while she was at Fox News. She has also been praised for her coverage of recent sexual harassment scandals. In particular, a monologue about Bill O’Reilly gained a lot of attention earlier this year.
Kelly’s show got off to a rocky start, though the ratings have steadily improved. It remains to be seen if NBC will want to take another major chance on her, especially after her NBC show’s mixed response.
Craig Melvin currently hosts MSNBC Live during the week, but on the weekends, he hosts the Saturday edition of Today. Just like moving Willie Geist from Sunday to the weekdays would make sense, moving Melvin off of Saturday would also be a logical choice.
Melvin has experience with hard news reporting, having covered major political events, including conventions and elections. He may or may not be a big enough name for Lauer’s seat, but he’s safe and reliable.
Of course, another option would be to get Hoda Kotb to step in as Lauer’s permanent replacement. On Wednesday, after Lauer was fired, Kotb was the one to fill in for him, giving us a taste of what Today with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb would look like. They both handled the situation with grace, and some viewers suggested just keeping Kotb in that seat moving forward.
Kotb currently hosts Today‘s 10 a.m. hour with Kathie Lee, so they’d be moving her up a few hours. The only issue here is that Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb have a lot of chemistry together, and she might be difficult to replace on that hour.
Natalie Morales is currently the host of Access Hollywood, replacing Billy Bush in 2016. She has been with NBC since 2002, starting off as an anchor at MSNBC, and so she has the experience covering hard news that NBC would want.
Also, in 2008, Morales became co-anchor of Today‘s third hour, and in 2011, she replaced Ann Curry as the show’s news anchor. Currently, she is an anchor on Today‘s West Coast edition. This would be another example of NBC promoting someone who already has quite a bit of experience with the Today brand and also has name recognition.
Katy Tur is a correspondent for NBC News who currently anchors the 2 p.m. hour on MSNBC. Tur provided excellent coverage of the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Trump would frequently mention her by name during his rallies, which earned Tur the moniker of Trump’s “favorite target.”
She later wrote a well-received book about her experiences in the election called Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History. Tur’s background is similar to that of Savannah Guthrie, who worked as NBC News’ White House correspondent for three years and anchored an MSNBC show for a year before landing at Today.
For similar reasons, Kasie Hunt’s name has also been floated. Hunt is an NBC political correspondent who hosts an MSNBC Sunday show.
Carson Daly has been an NBC personality since 2002. Having previously hosted MTV’s Total Request Live, Daly moved over to Last Call with Carson Daly in 2002. He also hosts NBC’s The Voice, and he has been a social media correspondent for Today since 2013.
If NBC wants to hire from within and wants a recognizable name, the network might consider Daly. He has also filled in for Lauer on Today before. The only issue is that Daly does not really have any news experience, something NBC is reportedly looking for in the new anchor.
This would probably never happen, but the host whose name was most mentioned as a possible Lauer replacement this week was Ann Curry. Curry was famously a co-host of Today with Lauer for one year, but NBC fired her. It has been widely reported that Lauer was the main reason for her dismissal. According to CNN, Lauer made it known when he was renegotiating his contract that he didn’t like Curry and wanted her gone.
After Lauer was fired, a popular sentiment became that Curry must be laughing hysterically somewhere, enjoying the downfall of the man who got her fired. In fact, the phrase “Somewhere Ann Curry” soon began trending on Twitter, and fans of hers suggested she should make a triumphant return to replace Lauer.
As long as we’re on the subject of anchors who left NBC under dramatic circumstances, there’s Tamron Hall. After spending 10 years with NBC News, Hall left in 2017. She was previously the anchor of Today‘s third hour. But NBC canceled her show in order to make room for Kelly. Hall subsequently decided to leave NBC entirely.
Fans of Hall’s were quite upset that NBC replaced her with Kelly. So after Lauer’s firing, Twitter users mentioned Hall’s name as someone who must be enjoying NBC’s misfortune and who they’d love to see come back.
In July, it was reported that Hall was to host a new daily show. But considering Harvey Weinstein was supposed to produce it, it’s unclear whether that is still going to happen at all, so Hall coming back to Today isn’t out of the question.
Shriver is a familiar face and very experienced. Her anchor experience dates back to 1978 with KYW-TV, and she has worked with CBS and NBC. In fact, after serving as the first lady of California, Shriver returned to NBC as a special anchor and still holds this role today.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!