10:38am PT by Erin Carlson
Matt Lauer Apologizes to Former Intern: 'Always Tried to Be Nice'
Lesson to important TV anchors: Be polite to the "little" people in the newsroom because one day they might call you out on Twitter in your darkest moment.
That's not to say Matt Lauer treated his former intern, Mark Zinni, badly -- there's two sides to every story -- but the beleaguered Today show co-host offered an apology on Twitter to Zinni, now an anchor and reporter at Fox's Cleveland affiliate station, after he retweeted a follower who quoted him as saying Lauer was "not so nice." Another quote: "I was just a young kid with a bright future ahead of me."
Lauer's response, from Tuesday: "huh? Always tried to be nice Mark. Sorry you didn't think so. Hope you're doing well."
On Thursday, the social media-loving Zinni was firing off a torrent of comments and replies regarding his Lauer tweet-versation, telling people to "be careful what you say on twitter, ha!" and stating: "For the record, i wasn't 'disgruntled' ... I had a great time in '97!"
Lauer, meanwhile, is mired in all sorts of drama over his future on the NBC morning show, which has slipped in the ratings and fallen to No. 2 behind Good Morning America since Ann Curry was pushed out of the show last summer. Although Lauer has said the circumstances of Curry's exit were mishandled, the public perception is that he was key in the decision to let her go.
As his reputation takes more hits, many media observers wonder how long Lauer, whose contract runs through 2014, will remain in the co-anchor's chair alongside Curry replacement Savannah Guthrie. On Wednesday, NBC executives and sources close to Anderson Cooper denied reports that the CNN anchor had been approached about Lauer's job: The network did reach out to Cooper, THR reported, but he is not in line to replace Lauer.
Later on Thursday, Zinni defended his Twitter TMI in a post on FOX8.com, writing: "Darren Sweeney, an executive producer at FOX 8, asked about my experience with Matt Lauer. If you know me, you probably know that I don’t take myself too seriously. So, my answer was more of a joke about being young and naive during my time at Today, but I added that he wasn’t nice to me. I didn’t slam the guy, I just made an honest comment."
Added Zinni: "Twitter is a great resource for everyone because it’s instant and, thankfully, shorter than a phone call. Bottom line, I was shocked Matt Lauer even bothered with me and, really, he remembers me? I’m flattered."