On Friday, the hosts of NBC’s Today show celebrated the network broadcast’s 70th anniversary by highlighting significant moments in the morning show’s history and it’s past hosts. However, one glaring omission was any mention of disgraced former co-host Matt Lauer – despite a handful of fleeting images of the serial sexual harasser during a lengthy montage looking back at the past seven decades.
“And welcome to Today. The official date, 14 January, is the official start of the 70th Anniversary. Today….we are in the middle of honoring this incredible milestone and we’re gonna do it all morning long,” co-host Hoda Kotb gushed at the top of the show. Moments later, she touted: “But we do want to begin with a look back at Today’s timeline.”
That timeline went decade by decade, starting with the broadcast’s January 14, 1952 debut up through June 20, 1994, when the show’s current home at Studio 1A Rockfeller Plaza opened. While past hosts like David Garroway, Barbara Walters, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric were all mentioned, the incomplete “timeline” stopped before Lauer joined the show in 1997, the beginning of his 20-year tenure.
Lauer’s November 29, 2017 firing, amid numerous sexual harassment claims and even one rape accusation, was certainly never mentioned.
Kotb wrapped up the timeline segment by proclaiming: “So get this, in a memo leading up to Presently’s debut, NBC executive Pat Weaver wrote that the goal was for America to be ‘well informed, amused, to be lightened in spirit and in heart and to be reinforced in inner resolution through knowledge.’ So look at us, 70 years later, that is still our goal.”
In the early morning, at 8:00 a.m. ET ET hour, a nearly 12-minute montage aired looking back on the show’s 70 years. Eagle-eyed viewers could spot Lauer briefly at five different times, but if they blink, it would be hard to miss those moments.
He was the anchor, but he didn’t know it. Today show for 20 of the past 70 years, Lauer’s name was never uttered once during the entire two-hour broadcast on Friday.
NBC’s selective of editing of its own history was similar to how CBS Mornings, on Monday, marked the 10th anniversary of co-host Gayle King anchoring the broadcast – which conveniently skipped any mention of her disgraced former co-host Charlie Rose, another serial sexual harasser.
News organizations should have a unique responsibility to be honest about their own past – the good, the bad, and the ugly – especially when it comes to scandals involving prominent anchors in positions of power.
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Below is the complete transcript of January 14th’s timeline segment.
7.02 am ET
HODA KOTB – Join us as we celebrate an American institution today (Friday, January 14, 2022).
ANNOUNCER : This special edition is from NBC News TodaySavannah Guthrie, Hoda Kokotb and Hoda Kutb celebrate the 70th anniversary. Live interest Studio 1A at Rockefeller Plaza.
KOTB is a warm welcome Today. The official date, 14 January, is the official start of the official 70th Anniversary celebrations. Today. Savannah was so excited to make it. She’s still recovering from COVID, she will join us from home in just a little bit. But we are in the middle of honoring this incredible milestone and we’re gonna do it all morning long.
CRAIG MELLIN: We are. We are. We are going to look back at the many memorable moments over the past seven decades and we’re also going to share a few special surprises along the way, including this. This is what you should see. You’re looking live at the iconic Empire State Building, it is decked out in Today orange in honor of our big anniversary.
KOTB: Carson and Al were both lucky enough to have flipped the switch yesterday. It was great. We’re gonna show you more of that later. We do however want to start with looking back. Today’s timeline. So, it was at 7:00 am. ET was 1952 at this moment. TodayThe first broadcast was live at the RCA Exhibition Hall, Rockefeller Center’s street level. The broadcast’s first live broadcast featured Dave Garroway as host. This hour was also the first broadcast by Dave Garroway.
MELVIN: Treteen years later. TodayThe broadcast would debut in full color for the first time. Each morning the show begins with the iconic NBC peacock logo.
KOTB: Now let’s fast forward to 1974. Barbara Walters became first female anchor for the show. Ten years before she began, Walters was a writer and reporter. As a journalist and writer, she was in her twenties. Even though she did many big interviews and covered breaking stories, her co-hosting rights were not granted until the late 1970s.
MELVIN: Eight years later, Bryant Gumbel joined Jane Pauley at the anchor desk, becoming the show’s first African American host.
KOTB: Let’s head to 1994, TodayThe future was back in their sights. Bryant, Katie and the rest of the team opened the Plaza to the crowd. They also brought back the Window on the World. It was such a staple of the show’s early days.
This memo should be followed up with Today’s debut, NBC executive Pat Weaver wrote that the goal was for America to be “well informed, amused, to be lightened in spirit and in heart and to be reinforced in inner resolution through knowledge.” So look at us, 70 years later, that is still our goal.
MELVIN: For 70 years, every morning.