During his 20-plus years at the "Today" show, Matt Lauer reportedly made sure that no potential male rival ever got close enough to replacing him, using his immense power at NBC to do so.
According to a new report in Page Six, Lauer was "ruthless" in his quest to maintain his position at "Today."
"Matt killed off, in their infancy, every man who could succeed him at the time that he was ready to hang it up," a source told Page Six. "So there's nobody to take his place. And now NBC is paying the price."
Those affected by Lauer's alleged "maneuverings" include David Gregory, Josh Elliott and Billy Bush, who "was already in Lauer's sights" when he was fired following the leak of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape featuring future president Donald Trump.
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"We had a conversation about that and I was told, he told me, that he went privately to the bosses and took that line," Bush said on Monday. "I said I appreciated it, and I accepted it, and thanked him."
In the week since NBC News Chairman Andy Lack announced that Lauer was fired from NBC News for "inappropriate sexual behavior," speculation has mounted around who could possibly fill his seat as co-anchor of the network's premiere morning show.
Initial reports indicated that new addition Megyn Kelly was gunning for his vacant seat, with sources going so far as to allege that she urged women to come forward with their stories about Lauer's misconduct to help her snag the position. Multiple sources say that this isn't the case, and that Kelly isn't seriously being considered for the role.
One front-runner could be Willie Geist, who hosts "Sunday Today" and has filled in for Lauer in the past.
"The network likes Megyn in her current role," a source told ET. "The rumor around the 'Today' show offices is that Willie Geist could be the one to replace Matt."
Another likely contender is "Weekend Today" host Craig Melvin, though one network exec quoted by Page Six is skeptical of Melvin's chances, noting that he "couldn't pick him out of a lineup."
For now, Hoda Kotb will continue to fill in for Lauer "in the short term," a source said.
Since his firing, Lauer has been holing up at his home in East Hampton with his family, though some reports claim that his wife Annette Roque has fled the country. The ousted "Today" anchor has been spotted twice, once meeting up with a famed lawyer and another instance where he was wearing his wedding ring.
See photos of Matt Lauer and Annette Roque:
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- This article was initially published on AOL.com: Why is there no clear Matt Lauer replacement on the 'Today' show? Sources say Lauer's to blame