Today show weatherman Al Roker apologized this morning on air from Sochi for suggesting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would be one term and out over his “goofball” decision to keep schools open in the thick of the latest winter storm.
One of the popular theories as to why NBC’s Today show is not grabbing the usual winning crowds it enjoys whenever it goes to an Olympics (its ratings have popped, but ABC’s Good Morning America was able to snag a bigger crowd this past Tuesday, for instance, though Today jumped back on top Wednesday) is that Today is getting pummeled by the weather. Not the surprisingly warm temperatures in Sochi, which is affecting conditions for several Olympics competitions, but the mondo snowstorm that was forecast for, and then hit, the U.S. East Coast. Particularly East Coast morning viewers looking for information about the storm barreling down on them might have been too distracted to watch Team Today each morning, interviewing U.S. medal winners, discussing Russian culture, and wearing eucalyptus-branch hats while soaking at a Russian bath house. That, even though Today at least one morning led its broadcast with a big storm report, and has included segments on the storm throughout its Sochi broadcasts.
Today weatherman Roker may have solved that problem when he gave himself a speaking part in the storm spectacle, launching a Twitter tirade against New York mayor Bill de Blasio over the latter’s decision to keep NY schools open Thursday despite severe weather warnings. This morning, Roker got a big fat plug across the media landscape when he apologized on Today for one of those tweets, in which he gave his “long-range forecast” that de Blasio would be a one-term mayor.
Roker said he stood by all of his tweets – there were a lot – but that “the one tweet I do regret in the heat — I’m very passionate about weather — I made a prediction there would be only one term to his administration. I apologize for that. That was below the line,” Roker acknowledged on this morning’s program.
It was the denouement of a drama that began Thursday when de Blasio’s administration decided to keep schools open. “Why are schools all around NYC closed? It’s going to take some kid or kids getting hurt before this goofball policy gets changed,” Roker began to tweet angrily. More where that came from — particularly with regard to de Blasio’s explanation that the snow had come faster and heavier than had been forecast.
— Al Roker (@alroker) February 13, 2014
Roker made so much noise that when de Blasio held a news conference yesterday afternoon to defend his decision to keep schools open while telling the public at large to stay home, he got asked about Roker’s tweets. Which Today show played this morning:
“I respect Al Roker a lot..I’ve watched him on TV for many, many years. It’s a different thing to run a city than give the weather on TV. So I am comfortable with our decision making, and we just got off the phone with the National Weather Service,” de Blasio said, adding, ” I respect all the meteoroligists out there, but the one I respect the most is called the National Weather Service.”
Today did not show the bit that immediately followed, in which the mayor said he called NWS right before the news conference, and “and they just affirmed to us… that this went faster and heavier than their projections last night. And that happens — it’s weather. None of us controls it. It’s our job to adjust and respond to it.” Today did, however, report that Roker had tweeted in response, “Mr. Mayor, I could never run NYC, but I know when it’s time to keep kids home from school.”
“By the way, the IOC has just added tweeting to its 2018 Winter Games,” Today’s Savannah Guthrie joshed.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.