The "Today" show hosts kicked off the annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center on Wednesday, and they were all smiles ─ with no mention of Matt Lauer ─ even though it was arguably the worst PR day in the long-running morning show's history.
In fact, Al Roker showed the group he was in seemingly good spirits, sharing a snapshot of the three "Today" hosts with wide smiles ahead of the big event.
After allegations of sexual misconduct came out against the network’s veteran host, the show had to press on with the festive holiday event without him. Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Roker introduced Brett Eldridge to sing “Blue Christmas” with no mention of their disgraced former co-host, who was booted from the network just hours earlier.
On Wednesday, the network quickly wiped Lauer’s name off its synopsis for the event on its website, highlighting the three remaining hosts instead. Additionally, the 20-year NBC veteran’s image was scrubbed from all social media extensions of the brand including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, some users on Twitter were quick to note that he still appeared in the synopsis for certain cable providers.
Lauer was abruptly let go from his position at NBC after an unnamed woman approached the network to lobby allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Soon after, Variety reported that Lauer had a history of being inappropriate with female staffers, allegedly exposing himself to someone on one occasion, gifting a sex toy to someone else on another occasion and, according to a separate report from The New York Times, having sex with a staff member who claimed she felt pressured to not refuse his advances.
But for most fans, while Lauer’s absence was noticeable, the show carried a lot of star power to compensate for his absence with performances by artists including Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Seal, Gwen Stefani, Train and The Tenors. Still, some Twitter users took notice of the 59-year-old’s absence.
“Damn I didn’t realize Matt Lauer was fired on the day of the Rockefeller Christmas tree special. That must have caused some chaos,” one user wrote.
“Must have needed time-filler with Matt Lauer firing,” wrote another. “Train Christmas, OK then.”
“The lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree on NBC is just not the same without Matt Lauer,” a user teased. “Actually, I can’t really tell the difference. But if Roker ever leaves, it would be a shame.”