NBC’s ‘Today’ skips 9/11 moment, airs Kris Jenner interview
By Lisa de Moraes,
NBC’s “Today” show had a public-relations disaster on its hands Tuesday when someone noticed that it did not air the annual moment of silence that’s held Sept. 11 at 8:46 a.m., in New York and Washington, marking the time when the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower in 2001.
But what had people’s undies so bunched was not only “Today’s” decision to give the annual moment of silence a pass, but also that, at that moment, “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie was interviewing Kris Jenner — Mama Kardashian — about her breast implants. Or rather, the expiration date on her breast implants and how important it is for breast-implanted women to keep track of their implant expiration dates.
Not coincidentally, this Sunday marks the finale of the latest “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” season.
Faster than you can say “Everyone gets to be a TV critic on Twitter,” people were pillorying NBC and “Today,” which, we should probably note here, has not carried the moment of silence for the past several years, except for last year, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
“The terrorists just won,” tweeted one master of understatement.
“#NBC talking about Kris Kardashian’s boobs at 8:46? #epicfail #respect,” chimed in another.
“How is NBC Today marking the 11th anniversary of the moment the first plane hit? By interviewing Kris Kardashian. #NBCFail #understatement,” added yet another.
There were loads more where that came from. Journalists weighed in, too, calling it “an odd bit of counterprogramming” and a “jarring contrast,” with some reporters gleefully noting that NBC was being torched on Twitter.
The “Today” show on Tuesday did, in fact, dedicate “a portion of its time to Sept. 11 coverage throughout the entire show,” a show rep noted when contacted by The TV Column.
“Today’s” coverage commemorating the terrorist attacks included a lengthy segment with a Sept. 11 survivor earlier in the show. Also included in the “Today” broadcast were multiple shots of Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower, seen throughout the show. And it was a topic of discussion in the show’s regular Today’s Professionals segment.
Meanwhile, NBC News’s cable network, MSNBC, aired the entire “Today” broadcast from Sept. 11, 2001 — a network tradition since 2006.
None of which matters, of course, if NBC hate is trending on Twitter and your once-wildly-popular morning infotainment show is struggling to recapture viewers but has instead been beaten by “Good Morning America” eight of the past 10 weeks.
It’ll get even uglier if anyone savaging NBC News’s programming decision remembers that NBC’s parent, Comcast, owns E!, and that Ryan Seacrest — the bright new star in the “Today” show firmament — is an exec-producer of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
The NBC-owned station in New York preempted “Today” during that time Tuesday to cover the observations of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Washington’s NBC-owned TV station was carrying “Today” and was therefore airing the Kardashian interview at the moment of silence, but, a station rep noted, WRC (Channel 4) covered the Sept. 11 anniversary extensively, beginning with its 4:30 a.m. newscast and continuing through the day.
Couric’s big debut
Katie Couric’s triumphant return to daytime TV Monday snagged the biggest ratings for a syndicated talk show launch in a decade.
The “Katie” unveiling tied “Dr. Phil’s” premiere in September 2002. There have been 25 daytime talk show debuts since the premiere of “Dr. Phil.”
“Katie” won its time slot in the country’s two largest TV markets — New York and Los Angeles. But here in Washington, Katie got crushed by Mehmet Oz, airing on WTTG (Channel 5), our Fox station.
“Dr. Oz” averaged 102,000 viewers in its season debut — more than double “Katie’s” 50,000.
One industry pundit speculated that Dr. Oz did so well because Dr. Phil’s show did not air in the time slot Monday, owing to CBS’s coverage of the U.S. Open. That left Oz the only doctor in sight.
Couric also finished behind the 4 p.m. newscast of WRC, but by just 2,000 viewers, according to early stats.
Among women ages 25 to 54 — the currency of daytime TV — “Katie” scored an average of 7,000 viewers in Washington, still trailing “Dr. Oz” (32,000 viewers). Couric also came in behind WRC’s newscast in the age bracket, but by a wider gap of 9,000 viewers.
Nationally, Katie is the alpha dog in the pack of new daytime talk show stars; she outscored Steve Harvey by 87 percent, Jeff Probst by 150 percent and Ricki Lake by 250 percent.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.