Kathie Lee Gifford Rallies 'Today' Crew Behind Matt Lauer in Public Letter
Why NBCUniversal's Steve Burke Defended Matt Lauer
Under siege in the press, Matt Lauer received a vote of confidence from inside the walls of Studio 1A.
Katie Lee Gifford told the New York Daily News that she rallied Today show staffers and stars to sign a letter of support for the beleaguered long-time co-anchor, a strike back against the devastating volley of bad publicity Lauer has endured over the last year.
"We all wanted to say something to Matt and nobody wanted to put him in a position that would make him uncomfortable," Gifford told the newspaper. "So unbeknownst to anyone higher up at NBC, I just started this thing."
Gifford had staffers and co-stars sign the letter, with notes indicating how long they'd worked alongside Lauer.
"We the people of the Today' show who work side by side, day by day, year in and year out with Matt Lauer are tired of unfounded and unrelenting stories by faceless characters regarding his character and reputation," the letter read. "No one has coerced us to sign this. With our signatures we stand in support of our colleague and friend."
The subject of intense scrutiny and the target of jabs from anonymous staffers in high profile media stories, Lauer has joked about having a "Q rating lower than polio" and has bared the brunt of the messy departure of former co-anchor Ann Curry. All of Lauer's major co-stars -- from Gifford to Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie -- signed the letter, but Curry's signature was absent. Gifford says that's due to the fact that she was traveling and unable to sign.
In March, Lauer criticized NBC for their handling of the Curry dethroning.
Lauer was said to be touched by the letter, but insisted Gifford not follow through on her plan to publish it as a full page advertisement in USA Today. So, she did the next best thing: giving the details and text of the letter -- along with word of Lauer's humility -- to the Daily News for a bit of free media coverage that would then become a major, viral news story covered everywhere.
In a comment, NBC said, "Everyone at Today is unified and focused on making the show great all around, and this is an example of that."
The release of the letter comes amid the publication of New York Times' reporter Brian Stelter's new book about the morning show wars, Top of the Morning, which takes a heavy focus on the drama at Today.