Viewers who tuned in to Megyn Kelly Today on Oct. 16 were greeted by a familiar face: Matt Lauer. The veteran Today anchor, 59, bantered with Megyn Kelly about emojis and how she had a chunk of chocolate scone in her teeth the first time they met. Later, when she asked him, “Have you ever been attacked by a wild cougar?” he looked incredulous and replied, “Have I ever been attacked by a wild…? No!”
It was awkward. But viewers will be seeing a lot more of Matt and Megyn’s other co-stars during the 9 a.m. hour. Life & Style has learned that the entire Today team is being pressured to make appearances to save Megyn’s sinking show as she struggles to appeal to a morning audience. One show executive “has been hearing complaints from Matt, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker because of their ongoing appearances on Megyn’s show,” an insider revealed. “But they have no choice but to do it.”
None of the stars are happy — especially because they’re now being forced to bail out their new co-worker. Though multiple sources have told Life & Style that Megyn and Matt have been clashing behind the scenes for months, Today’s execs have indicated they “plan to put Matt on Megyn’s show on a frequent basis,” says the insider. “It’s bad enough that Megyn’s ratings are bringing down the entire brand, but having to go on her show and sit there as Megyn just basically flails is insulting.”
Al is particularly annoyed. Last winter, he and Tamron Hall learned they were being pushed out of hosting their solidly rated third hour, Today’s Take, to make room for Megyn. Tamron even quit over the slight. But now a higher-up at NBC News “wants Al to be Megyn’s permanent contributor,” says the insider. “He’s basically being asked to go back to his old job, and Al is balking.”
Megyn’s viewers have been relentless as well. And they aren’t the only ones. Not only are her panicked bosses picking apart her every move after each show, says a source, but the network conducted top-secret focus groups earlier this year about the former Fox News anchor’s presence on camera, In Touch reports. “The feedback was incredibly negative,” says the source. “The focus groups weren’t conducted until after Megyn was hired. Why wasn’t this done before she was hired to determine if she would be a good fit for the network?”
Matt and Megyn on Megyn Kelly Today.
Uneasy execs weren’t happy after receiving the results, says the source. But one of NBC’s top executives tried to calm the others. Says the source, “He assured them that viewers would love Megyn once she went on air.” Execs also decided to not conduct any more focus groups. “It’s a tremendous cost, and the feedback could even be worse than before,” adds the source. “If the results are leaked to the media, more negative stories could be the nail in the coffin.”
There doesn’t seem to be much hope for a turnaround of the show, unfortunately. Since its premiere, Megyn Kelly Today is down 23 percent from the same time period last year when Al and Tamron hosted. Megyn is also getting destroyed by main rival Live With Kelly and Ryan, which is beating Megyn’s show by a staggering 21 percent. Sighs the source, “Megyn’s ratings are bringing down the entire brand.” Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Giford — who host the 10 a.m. hour — have seen their numbers drop, too. We just hope everything gets better for Today…