NBC is suffering through yet another public relations nightmare with revelations that Nightly News anchor Brian Williams lied about a helicopter he rode in during the Iraq War being hit by a RPG, and now other stories he's told are also coming under fresh scrutiny.
NBC's three most prized programs Today, Meet the Press and Nightly News have now all taken severe public relations hits within the past three years.
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Today, in the wake of its well-known Ann Curry debacle, has been caught and passed by Good Morning America in the notoriously competitive morning show ratings after dominating the proceedings for nearly two decades. Curry was pushed out after a year of infighting and leaks that Matt Lauer and other network higher-ups didn't want her on the couch.
After just one year as a co-host of Today, Curry's on-air announcement that she was leaving in June of 2012 was a disaster for the peacock network. The humiliated, veteran reporter cried openly as she bade farewell to the audience and got perhaps live television's most awkward kiss from Lauer, whose distaste for her was by then a badly kept secret.
Meet the Press, the Sunday morning show standard, also slipped from its longtime ratings dominance to third place when David Gregory became host after Tim Russert's untimely death. Russert led Meet the Press to decisive ratings victories with his everyman approach and grilling of politicians, but once Gregory took over in 2008, the show lost 43 percent of its viewers during his tenure. NBC forced Gregory out in 2014, but not before news broke of the network hiring a psychological consultant to interview Gregory's friends and family to figure out what was plaguing him and the show.
NBC News president Deborah Turness was so desperate to revive the Meet the Press that she even approached comedian Jon Stewart to replace Gregory. Chuck Todd finally assumed the host's chair, but the ugly spectacle was another black eye for NBC.
The network also embarrassed itself with news that it paid $600,000 a year to Chelsea Clinton to be a "special correspondent," an unheard-of salary for someone with next to no reporting experience. A wooden presence, she produced fluff pieces for the "Making a Difference" portion of Nightly News and also scored an exclusive interview with the Geico gecko before leaving the network.
Finally, there's 30 Rock's cable wing. The left-wing MSNBC channel has endured blow after blow over the past few years, including having to dismiss hosts Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin within weeks of each other in 2013 for variously vulgar remarks, an offensive tweet denigrating all conservatives as racist, and a panel laughing at Mitt Romney's black grandson for looking different from his white family members, among highlight reels worth of moments of bias, crudeness, and trifle.
In other news, MSNBC is nearing its worst ratings in nearly a decade.