8:07am PT by Erin Carlson
Matt Lauer: 'I Have a Lower Q Rating Than Polio'
Despite the downward spiral of his public image, Matt Lauer is managing to have a sense of humor about his tarnished reputation and all the negative media attention on the backstage drama at the Today show.
The besieged morning-show anchor hosted a UJA-Federation of New York event on Tuesday celebrating his friend, Bloomberg Media Group CEO Andrew Lack. In the New York Post, he was quoted as telling the audience that he was "a bit surprised to be asked to host this dinner. If you’ve been following the papers lately, you know it’s been a bit rough for me. These days, I only get asked to host dinners if polio is busy. Yup, I have a lower Q rating than polio right now.”
While introducing presenter Katie Couric, Lauer cracked another joke: "Katie has a way of making headlines. Who can forget when she was co-host of the Today show? She got a colonoscopy on TV. Not to be outdone, two weeks ago, I got one in The New York Times."
(See also: jugular-targeting headlines such as "America Hates Matt Lauer.")
Lauer, meanwhile, is the subject of much speculation 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.
To that end, many media observers wonder how long Lauer, whose contract runs through 2014, will remain in the co-host's chair alongside Curry replacement Savannah Guthrie. Last month, NBC executives and sources close to Anderson Cooper denied reports that the CNN newsman 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.