Daily News front page splash ‘flat wrong,’ says NBC

Reports that Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb was being flown into London to boost ratings are false, the network claims

The New York Daily News was quick to splash Tuesday’s front page with news that NBC’s Hoda Kotb was being flown in to rescue the Today Show’s Olympics coverage from Savannah Guthrie.

The paper used two sources at NBC to confirm that Kotb had been flown to London to “rescue” the team because their pre-Olympics broadcast had fallen behind ABC in the ratings. NBC has exclusive rights to show Olympics coverage in the US, but most US outlets have a team in London reporting around the games.

According to past Today Show footage and a show spokeswoman, that scenario wasn’t the case.

“The Daily News story was flat wrong,” Megan Kopf, a publicist for the Today Show, told CJR.

Twitter was quick to react to the coverage. Alex Weprin, an editor at TVNewser, tweeted that the Daily News story was “atrociously wrong” and later followed up with a detailed takedown. Brian Stelter, the television and Web reporter for The New York Times, was quick to pick up on Weprin’s story. “Paper never even called NBC?” he tweeted.

According to Mashable the hashtag #nbcfail was tweeted 20,000 times by July 29, mostly in connection with the suspension of Guy Adams. Brandon Ballenger, a freelance journalist, has created a Storify that divides the #nbcfail hashtag by topic, including “stupid commentary” and “condescending to critics.” Such criticism could explain why NBC is scrambling to raise “sub-par ratings,” as the Daily News article suggests.

Most tweets in connection with Hoda Kotb spread the Daily News story that she was being flown into London to give the NBC ratings an emergency boost.

On Tuesday morning, the Daily News updated the online version of the story to include a statement from Megan Kopf, a publicist for the Today Show.

“It is well-know that Hoda was traveling to London to participate in the Today Show’s Olympic coverage because we announced it on our show three weeks ago,” the statement read.

Underneath the Today Show statement, reporter Carson Griffiths stood by her scoop:

“Our network insider maintains that Kotb’s actual departure was up in the air and that Thursday’s call came because of the sub-par ratings for the pre-Olympics coverage against the “Today” show’s rival,” she writes.

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Hazel Sheffield is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @hazelsheffield. Tags: , , ,