Matt Lauer says he's not leaving 'Today' to join Katie Couric
During a press conference held by NBC News at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Monday, following the announcement that Meredith Vieira will be leaving the "Today" show, her co-anchor Matt Lauer dismissed rumors that he will soon be following Vieira out the door. "I have a long-term deal with NBC," said Lauer, whose contract expires Dec. 31, 2012. "I'm gonna be here for a while."
Asked about rumors that he'd talked with his former "Today" co-anchor Katie Couric about teaming up on a future project, he confirmed that they'd discussed the possibility, but he said Couric's timetable was more accelerated than his -- she will step down from her "CBS Evening News" post in June -- and the negotiations just didn't work out. "I just determined that there really wasn't a need for us to continue the conversation right now because I'm not going anywhere," he said.
Meanwhile, Vieira told the crowd she's been planning her departure from "Today" since January, around the time NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker stepped down from his post. "I was extremely torn, because I love it here, but I had personal issues that were weighing on me and I felt that I needed to really examine them closely," Vieira said.
She ultimately set a final "Today" appearance for June 8 because her daughter graduates from high school on June 9 and her son graduates from college June 12.
Although she acknowledged that she wants to spend more time with her family, she took issue with the idea that she's quitting to nurse her husband, who has struggled with multiple sclerosis."There's so much speculation in the press recently about poor Meredith and her invalid husband. I want to set the record straight on that," she said, adding that she feels this speculation "diminishes" both her husband and herself. "My husband Richard is in good health, and that's part of the reason I want to leave right now, because I appreciate what that means in a very deep way.... I want to appreciate our time together and not have to punch a clock so much."
-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press