Former "Today" host Bryant Gumbel told Howard Kurtz at Newsweek that he was "embarrassed" by Sarah Palin's one-day co-hosting gig on his old show. He lamented hosts "used to be judged not just on their popularity level but the extent to which they were capable of interviewing someone or reporting on a situation, or able to have a degree of gravitas. Now that is secondary to being popular."
This reeks of Gumbel implying that in the good old days when he hosted Today (1982-1997), hosts were judged on their skills. Gumbel didn't leave the impression then that he felt his female co-hosts were Queens of Gravitas.
Or even that they were nice people: in 1999, Gumbel trashed Couric to New York Times TV writer Bill Carter that "I've had one assistant for 18 years. Somebody who shall remain nameless went through five in five years. I had one makeup and hair person the whole time I was at NBC. Somebody who shall remain nameless went through three or four."
In her 1992 book Inside Today, former NBC talent coordinator Judy Kessler wrote that Gumbel brought a "locker-room mentality" to the set: "There were women unit managers [Gumbel] claimed to have slept with, and he would say things like,'She's not even a good [expletive].' Then he had the habit of walking around the office and going up behind a lot of women and massaging their backs and shoulders. The other thing he would do was run his hand up their back to see if they were wearing a brassiere....He got a kick out of scaring women."
Kessler quoted a male member of the Today staff, who said: "Bryant was generally so aggressively nasty to women. He would give an assessment of everyone's bust size, and say things like,'You know, I could sleep with that one if I wanted to.'"
Kurtz laid it on a little thick on the Palin stunt by describing it as "giving the disastrous VP nominee a chance to poke fun at her know-nothing image while sprinkling some celebrity stardust on Matt Lauer and the gang."