Weekly Column: NBC’s Today made the most of its big “get” this morning — Matt Lauer’s exclusive and chilling interview with Dottie Sandusky, wife of former Penn State assistant football coach/convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky, in which she said the victims were “manipulated” when they “saw money,” did not scream from the basement of her house as one has claimed, and that her husband having showered with the boys is a generational thing. ABC’s Good Morning America, meanwhile, was touting its talk with ABC News’ Dan Harris about the on-air panic attack he suffered a decade ago – the result, he says, of years spent covering wars abroad and his use of recreational drugs to deal with the emotional aftermath of that war coverage.
Coming out of the Sochi Games, the morning infotainment-show war has never been hotter. Today, which won the two weeks of the Winter Olympics – its first weekly victories since the 2012 London Summer Games – returned aggressively with a Love Your Selfie interactive campaign, a ribbon-cutting on its new outdoor space by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and a make-up hug between de Blasio and Today weatherman Al Roker after their much-reported Twitter dust-up. Lauer’s Sandusky exclusive is Today‘s latest sit-down in that aggressive post-Sochi push that also included a chat with Toronto’s click-bait mayor Rob Ford. Even so, GMA jumped back on top in the ratings the very first week after Sochi, and has widened its lead each week, though the gap is still smaller than the 1.1 million lead GMA had on Today this season leading up to Sochi. “All this competition has been good for the viewer – we’re all trying harder, all fighting as hard as we ever have,” Today EP Don Nash told Deadline. “I’ve been at this show 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it. … We are fighting for every viewer.”