Bob Bestler | ‘Today’ won’t be on the TV tomorrow

On the looseNovember 16, 2012 

Dear “Today”:

You and I have been friends for a long time, through the good and the bad.

We were together when you replaced the gravitas of Tom Brokaw with the sports-centered Bryant Gumbel.

We were together through the entire Deborah What’s-her-name episode, when you broke a young woman’s heart after a brief tryout. Remember the Gumbel memo? I do.

We watched the maturing of Jane Pauley and Katie Couric; we watched Matt Lauer start to bald out – after learning where in the world he was.

We were there, shocked senseless, when you stayed on the air that awful morning of Sept. 11, 2001. It was TV journalism at its most gripping.

We’ve stood with Al Roker and, more recently, Jim Cantori, as they fought through the driving rain of a dozen or so hurricanes.

Yes, “Today,” we’ve watched together as presidents came and presidents went, and as young athletes soared to Olympian heights every two years on your morning recaps.

Truth is, until recently, I could not imagine starting the day without a cup of coffee and you guys, even if I could stay just long enough to get the early morning headlines.

I don’t know when the doubts about your journalism began to seep in, but over time I have come to realize that watching the “Today” show is like reading The National Enquirer instead of The New York Times or even The Sun News.

The world may be falling apart all around us, but here is “Today” with the latest cutesy YouTube highlight, the latest Hollywood scandal (can you say Lindsay Lohan?), the latest TV sitcom star, usually an NBC sitcom in need of a network push.

What I have always found truly galling are those episodes when the “Today” regulars trade in their journalism hats to show us how funny they are or, dare I say it, how silly. The annual Halloween costume thing is but a start.

What I’m saying, “Today,” is that you guys have gotten pretty light-headed, and I’m not only talking about Willard Scott’s 100 club.

I’m not sure when it started – or why it took me so long to catch on and start shopping elsewhere.

Was Brokaw the last serious moment? Or was it Couric?

Doesn’t matter.

After watching the other day as you called in Newt Gingrich – Newt Gingrich! – to enlighten us about the developing Petreaus-Broadwell scandal, I had to switch channels again.

Nothing against Newt, but one has to draw a line against programming irrelevance.

Anyway, see you next week. Maybe.

Contact BOB BESTLER at bestler6@tds.net.

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