It’s been made official. Meredith Vieira is leaving the Today show. I know, I know. I’ve said here more than once that I would no longer be watching Today. Ridiculous stories, misspelled captions, grammatical mistakes by Weekend Today anchors, and a few by Meredith during the week. Too many stories about people with screwdrivers in their skulls or animals with special talents. It really has gotten unbearable—almost.
There’s one major reason I still watch: Matt Lauer. I love Matt Lauer. He’s a talented journalist and a skilled anchor who displays an appropriate mix of seriousness and humor on camera. He isn’t afraid of asking the tough questions and does his best with what he has to work with.
In one-on-one interviews, Matt Lauer shows he can relate to just about anyone, showing not only that he has done his homework, but that he has keen insights into what makes people tick. Whether he’s interviewing the President of the United States or a seasoned rocker (I loved his recent interview with Steven Tyler, by the way), we walk away better knowing the interviewee. And I hope it’s safe to say, I’ve got a little crush.
And, because his assets far outweigh the show’s liabilities, I continue to watch. Plus, I have the power of the remote. When an animal or a screwdriver-through-the-head story comes on, I have the power to mute or to switch.
I’ve never been a Meredith fan, so I didn’t choke up when she made her tearful announcement this morning. I never got the sense there was much chemistry there during the last five years anyway.
Ann Curry, another talented and serious newsperson, will be sliding over into Meredith’s chair.
Even though the team of news directors and producers and writers will probably remain the same, I have a feeling that, come June, I might be doing a little less muting and switching.
Yet, I’ll say right now that, wherever in the world Matt goes, I’ll follow. I hope he never leaves. It just doesn’t get any better than beginning a work day with Matt Lauer and ending it with Brian Williams. If only I could do that in person.