Matt Lauer reportedly orchestrated the firing of Today show executive Jamie Horowitz this week, after Lauer found out that fellow anchor Savannah Guthrie was to be fired.
The shake-up came mid-week not long after rumors that Natalie Morales and Willie Geist would be fired. When Lauer found out about the plans — which included a plan to replace Guthrie with Hoda Kotb — he reportedly held out and demanded that Horowitz be fired instead.
“Savannah, Natalie and Willie Geist heard about the plan and talked to Matt, who went to [NBC President Deborah] Turness and told her, ‘I want to keep these people,’ so she fired Jamie,” an NBC source told the New York Post’s Page Six. “Once again, Matt Lauer calls the shots at ‘Today.’ The idea of bringing Jamie in was to bring change to the show to help beat GMA, but how can you fix it if nobody can make any changes?”
Sources said that Horowitz had problems beyond Matt Lauer. The insider said he also had conflicts with staff and producers, and didn’t see eye-to-eye with NBC executives. He will still get the remaining $3 million let on his contract.
Not long after the firing was announced, Turness tried to quell rumors that Morales and Geist would be fired.
“NBC’s TODAY has the best anchor team in morning television,” she said in a statement. “The entire TODAY show anchor team — Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Willie Geist, Carson Daly, Tamron Hall, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb — are incredibly talented, valued and have our support. In response to the false rumors that have been circulated about our anchor team, NBC wants to be absolutely clear: The rumors are wrong — period. This is the team we are committed to. And this is the team that our viewers turn to in the morning.”
Matt Lauer himself has been embroiled in some on-air controversy lately. He earned the ire of One Direction singer Zayn Malik after suggesting that he missed a planned interview due to problems with drugs. Malik said he was sick and unable to leave England.