Weeks After Lauer Is Ousted, ‘Today’ Changes Show’s Top Producer

Posted January 17, 2018 1:07 p.m. EST

Seven weeks after Matt Lauer was ousted from NBC’s “Today” amid allegations of sexual misconduct, there has been another shake-up at the morning show.

NBC said on Wednesday that Don Nash, the show’s executive producer since 2012, would leave and would be succeeded by Libby Leist, a veteran “Today” producer with deep ties to Washington and a strong working relationship with Savannah Guthrie, a co-anchor. The move makes Leist the first woman to hold the top producing job for the show’s first two hours.

“Today” has surged in the ratings since Lauer’s firing, beating ABC’s “Good Morning America” for seven straight weeks, its longest such streak in nearly six years. Some people in the television industry have asked whether the NBC show’s rise reflects early interest in the post-Lauer era at “Today” — Hoda Kotb was named as his permanent replacement this month — or whether it signals a long-term shift. Even NBC officials have been caught off guard by the strong viewership figures.

The ratings improvement makes Nash’s departure something of a surprise, although changes in show anchors are often accompanied by changes at the executive producer level. Nash had a close working relationship with Lauer.

Shortly before Nash’s departure was announced, former “Today” anchor Ann Curry appeared on “CBS This Morning” and discussed the issue of harassment at her former professional home. Curry left the show in 2012, a messy departure that some attributed to Lauer.

“I am not surprised by the allegations,” Curry said, when asked if Lauer had abused his power.

“I can say that I would be surprised if many women did not understand that there was a climate of verbal harassment that existed,” she said. “I think it would be surprising if someone said that they didn’t see that. So it was verbal sexual harassment.”

In a memo to staff members, Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News, praised Nash for helping stabilize “Today” and for being “one of the best live control room producers in the business.”

“We’ve offered him a number of roles within NBC News and NBCUniversal, and we hope he’ll stay in the family,” Lack wrote.

For his part, Nash said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“I will forever cherish the unbelievable experiences and incredible people I have had the privilege to work with,” wrote Nash in a memo to members of the “Today” staff. “It was so much fun. Dr. Seuss wrote, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ I’m so glad it happened.”