Beleaguered "Today" show host Matt Lauer joked
about his recent onslaught of bad press by cracking that he's less popular than polio, according to the New York Post.
Lauer emceed the UJA Federation of New York's Broadcast Cable & Film Division event Tuesday night, and admitted he was a "bit surprised" he was asked to host.
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"If you've been following the papers lately, you know it’s been a bit rough for me," he joked. "These days, I only get asked to host dinners if polio is busy. Yup, I have a lower Q rating than polio right now." (Q scores are a widely used measure of a television figure's likeability.)
Later, he introduced his former "Today" co-host Katie Couric, saying, "Katie has a way of making headlines. Who can forget when she was co-host of the 'Today' show? She got a colonoscopy on TV. Not to be outdone, two weeks ago, I got one in The New York Times."
Lauer was referring to last month's front-page Times story by media writer Brian Stelter, which reported that some "Today" staffers don't think the damage to Lauer's reputation can be repaired
. The story also claims that Lauer's Q score has fallen by more than 50 percent over the past two years (though NBC disputes this).
Lauer's public image has taken a beating since last year
when his co-host Ann Curry was unceremoniously dumped for Savannah Guthrie. Loyal viewers blamed Lauer for Curry's virtual demise.
To add to the reputational damage, a former "Today" show intern spoke out on Twitter last month and said Lauer was "not nice" to him
when he was working there.
Lauer has also taken the brunt of the blame for last year's "Today" show ratings tumble — the morning program fell to No. 2 behind ABC's "Good Morning America" after 16 years on top — and he's not expected to re-sign when his $25 million-a-year contract expires in 2015, according to the New York Post.
But it seems humor may not be enough to put Lauer back to America's good graces.
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