Poor Brian Williams: Even though his “NBC Nightly News” broadcast continues to lead in the ratings, on Tuesday night he had the thankless task of responding to David Letterman’s relentless interrogation about the flurry of gossip surrounding his network’s more troubled franchises, “Today” and “Tonight.”
Letterman pressed the anchor about the upheaval at NBC, starting with “Today.” Last year’s messy replacement of Ann Curry is back in the news this week, thanks to a dishy New York magazine cover story that chronicles the whole affair in excruciating detail.
“I’m the soul of discretion. A few months ago there was some trouble at NBC on the vaunted morning show, what do they call it, ‘Today Show,’” Letterman began, feigning absent-mindedness in that way he does so well.
Clearly uncomfortable, Bri-Wi tried to dodge the questions with a little humor: “Please, please tell me I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be morning and I’m going to say, ‘Hey, I’m doing ‘Dave’ tonight, that was just a dream.”
But Letterman refused to give up, noting how the Curry debacle had dealt an unexpected blow to Matt Lauer’s public image, and suggesting that the other giant rumor swirling about NBC – that Jimmy Fallon is poised to take over a New York-based “Tonight Show” in the very near future — was leaked in an attempt to distract from the troubles at “Today.”
Though it was unclear whether he actually believed this convoluted theory, or if he was simply taking some ironic pleasure in NBC’s woes, one thing was evident: Williams was not thrilled to be on the receiving end of Letterman’s interrogation.
“Oh, good Lord,” he replied, shifting in his seat and nervously fussing with his tie.
Letterman, not quite ready to give up, goaded his guest one last time. “Now, if I’m on to something, blink twice.”
Williams didn’t bat an eyelash.