Matt Lauer missed out on a big story Friday that could have helped boost the Today co-anchor's tarnished public image.
While Lauer was dispatched to Waco, Texas, to cover the aftermath of the bombings there, his unflappable co-host, Savannah Guthrie, took the lead from Today's headquarters in New York, deftly navigating incoming breaking news on the Boston bomber manhunt without breaking a sweat as the NBC morning show stretched into the afternoon. Guthrie finally signed off around 1 p.m. eastern, ceding the anchors' seat to Brian Williams.
Over seven hours, Guthrie interviewed friends of the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while also tag-teaming with Pete Williams -- who's stationed at NBC's Washington bureau -- to piece together information on the massive pursuit to apprehend the 19-year-old Boston-area fugitive.
Williams has emerged as a breakout journalist star since Monday's attack at the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three people and injured around 170. While CNN botched its coverage on Wednesday by erroneously reporting that an arrest had been made, Williams -- a former spokesman for the Pentagon -- held out, disputing accounts from CNN and other outlets including The Associated Press.
Williams scooped media this week when he reported that the bombing suspects are brothers and that the two told the driver of the Mercedes SUV they carjacked Thursday night that they were behind the blasts.
Guthrie, meanwhile, has won props on social media, with Joe Hagan, the New York magazine reporter who wrote a recent cover story on Today's decline, retweeting a message that read: "Savannah Guthrie for the win."
Her Today colleagues Al Roker as well as Lauer commended Guthrie's skillful (and epic) leadership. She's "doing a terrific job," Roker tweeted, with Lauer chiming in: "So much happening so fast in Boston! @SavannahGuthrie so great at handling all the moving parts! Wonderful coverage @NBCNews."