Meredith Vieira Talks Matt Lauer and Ann Curry's "Mishandled" Today Show Fallout: "S--- Happens"
Meredith knows! Former Today show co-host Meredith Vieira told The Hollywood Reporter that she felt for both Ann Curry and Matt Lauer during their epic fallout back in 2012.
"That was such a bad time," Vieira, 60, noted of Curry's abrupt departure from the NBC program that June. "I really felt for Matt a lot. And I felt for Ann, too. It turned so nasty, really nasty. Every day you're reading this stuff that is just beyond cruel from angry, angry people who felt that Ann had been slighted and embarrassed and humiliated."
As detailed at the time in Brian Stelter's buzzy book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, Curry had a tense relationship with her Today show co-anchor Lauer. When she was replaced after one year by Savannah Guthrie, fans felt Lauer was the one to blame. Noting that, Vieira said: "They basically pointed to one person on whom to take out all of their anger. I don't know if I would have survived that."
While Vieira didn't give any advice to Lauer during that time period, she did offer friendship and comfort. "I just told him I loved him and I was there for him," the former View co-host told THR. "But I never sugarcoated what had happened. I thought it had not been handled smartly from the very beginning, because I don't think they ever felt that was the right fit for Ann so they should never have put her in that position to begin with. And then the ending was so mishandled."
According to a startling New York magazine piece last March, Lauer was not a fan of Curry from the get-go. "Everybody at NBC, everybody at the Today show, everybody understood that Ann was kicked out of her position because Matt didn't want her there," a prominent NBC staff member told the publication. "That's why it was so personal between Ann and Matt."
Even Don Nash, the longtime executive producer of the show, saw how Lauer and Curry's tense relationship translated on-screen. "You can't fake it for very long that early in the morning," Nash told NY Mag at the time. "I think viewers have a sixth sense about all that. If your two anchors don't like each other off the air, they're not going to be fooled if they love each other on the air."
Nash, though, sang Vieira's praises to THR. "She's not impressed by fame, money, prestige or the ability to set the agenda. What's important to her is to have a happy family life," he said. "She's the poster child for someone who figured it out."
Indeed, Vieira seems to have figured out—and accepted—that conflict happens in the workplace. "You know what," she mused to THR of the Curry-Lauer saga, "s--- happens. People make mistakes. We all do."