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Howard Stern Sees Ratings Gold for 'Today' if Savannah 'Kills Matt on Camera'

During a simulcast of NBC's Today and Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show on Tuesday, the outspoken America's Got Talent host suggested a way for the network morning show to boost its ratings: "You know, Savannah, it would be great for the ratings if you had the baby and then you had postpartum depression....a lot of women will relate to that. Matt could do a three-piece set on that." [Listen to the audio]

With co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer sitting in Stern's studio, he took the joke even further: "Wouldn't it be great? Let me spell out my scenario. Savannah has the baby. Gorgeous baby, healthy baby, we know that....Savannah then has postpartum depression, comes back to the Today show, kills Matt on camera....Wouldn't that be amazing?"

Lauer sarcastically replied: "It would be. You should program the Today show."

Earlier in the exchange, Stern warned the pregnant Guthrie about taking too much maternity leave: "Now we all know that pregnancy and morning television equals ratings.... But do you worry? Because we know and Matt knows, everyone in television knows this and everyone in radio knows it, when you take a long vacation, anything can go wrong. You can lose your job....Do you worry about leaving the Today show?"

Later, Stern wondered if Guthrie had hired a nanny to help with the baby: "Will the woman you hire be an illegal immigrant?" Guthrie protested: "Absolutely not. By the book, Howard."

Referring to Lauer having a bucket of ice water dumped on his head for charity during Tuesday's broadcast, Stern blasted network programming: "What happened to morning television? I mean, Matt loves – I am friends with Matt. We love to discuss politics. We love to talk about what's going on in the world. And now for crass ratings, Matt's going to be doused in cold water."

Lauer defended the limited amount of substance on Today: "No, well, it's part of the 8:00 hour. In the 7:00 hour we still do cover the news of the day, international, national, we do whatever we can."

Stern followed up: "Matt, does it bother you when you go home at night and you're talking to your wife, and you say, 'You know what they made me do on the Today show? They made me get doused in cold water'? I mean, why don't you have a dunking station?"

Here are excerpts of the July 15 segment:

8:43 AM ET

(...)

HOWARD STERN: I'm interested in Savannah because of your brain. I am shocked – I was just telling Robin that you – I didn't know this. She graduated number one from what college did you go to? Where'd you get your law degree?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Oh, my law degree, Georgetown University Law Center. But I was not number one.

STERN: Did you know this? Weren't you the number one person to pass the bar? You got the highest grade on the bar in Arizona?

GUTHRIE: I did get the highest grade on the bar in Arizona.

STERN: Matt, are you not-

MATT LAUER: Do you know one of the first days we ever worked together was the day of that historic Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare. And it came out, remember how confusing it was? Savannah sitting next to me, I looked at her, she said, "Well, I think really what's happening here is..." and then went out and laid it all out. I thought, this is gonna go well.

STERN: You know, the truth be told, I know Matt from the old days. He was like the voiceover guy on HBO. He's got no background. You know, he pretends to be smart, but you're actually smart.

(...)

STERN: Now we all know that pregnancy and morning television equals ratings. I think Joan Lunden, when she was on Good Morning America, was pregnant for six years. She just wanted to win.

LAUER: That was with one child.

STERN: That was with one child. But do you worry? Because we know and Matt knows, everyone in television knows this and everyone in radio knows it, when you take a long vacation, anything can go wrong. You can lose your job.

GUTHRIE: Thank you.

STERN: No seriously. Do you worry about leaving the Today show? How long do you plan for maternity leave? If I was you, take an hour, have the baby, and get right back on.

GUTHRIE: Well, you know what, Howard? I've got some plans. I mean first of all, I'll probably be gone a couple months. I know the show-

STERN: Months? Oh!

GUTHRIE: I think the show's going to be in great hands.

STERN: You better warm up that law degree. Who is going to take over for you?

(...)

STERN: Who is going to come in and replace you for a couple of months?

GUTHRIE: We've got actually-

STERN: Who do we have?

GUTHRIE: We have a deep bench, honestly.

STERN: Do we have Katie Couric perhaps coming in? I asked Katie about that, she says there's been no discussion about her replacing you for a few months. But, I think in a surprise move, you never know at NBC because they're tricky, they could bring her in.

GUTHRIE: Well, I think we may have a few surprises. But honestly, Natalie, Hoda, Tamron, I think are going to be the ones who primarily fill in.

(...)

STERN: You know, Savannah, it would be great for the ratings if you had the baby and then you had postpartum depression. A lot of women could – a lot of women will relate to that. Matt could do a three-piece set on that. He could – right? You could talk to all the experts. It would help you relate to women better.

LAUER: Here's the part I warned you about.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, I was going to say, "You know what? You're right. What was there to fear?"

STERN: Wouldn't it be great? Let me spell out my scenario. Savannah has the baby. Gorgeous baby, healthy baby, we know that.

LAUER: I'm there.

STERN: You're all there. Savannah then-

ROBIN QUIVERS: He's crashing the birth like you were gonna crash Katie Couric's wedding.

STERN: Savannah then has postpartum depression, comes back to the Today show, kills Matt on camera.

LAUER: Okay, with you so far.

QUIVERS: Well, now we're really talking ratings.

STERN: Wouldn't that be amazing?

LAUER: It would be. You should program the Today show.

GUTHRIE: Really.

(...)

STERN: I want to ask a serious question. What happened to morning television? I mean, Matt loves – I am friends with Matt. We love to discuss politics. We love to talk about what's going on in the world. And now for crass ratings, Matt's going to be doused in cold water.

LAUER: No, it already happened.

STERN: I mean – oh, it did happen?

GUTHRIE: Yeah.

LAUER: It's done.

STERN: It sounds horrible.

LAUER: No, well, it's part of the 8:00 hour. In the 7:00 hour we still do cover the news of the day, international, national, we do whatever we can. But yeah, there was the scene a few minutes ago.

STERN: Matt, does it bother you when you go home at night and you're talking to your wife, and you say, "You know what they made me do on the Today show? They made me get doused in cold water"? I mean, why don't you have a dunking station?

(...)

STERN: I hope to God you've already found a nanny so you are not really that involved. Have you?

GUTHRIE: Well, I found someone to help out in the first couple of months and I had a very good friend give me a good recommendation.

QUIVERS: And then she'll bring in several more.

STERN: Will you – will the woman you hire be an illegal immigrant or-

QUIVERS: Stop it.

GUTHRIE: Absolutely not. By the book, Howard.

STERN: You will do it by the book?

GUTHRIE: I got an "A" in tax. Do you think I can mess this up?

(...)

STERN: One last question. Do you secretly hope that when you are maternity leave the ratings go down without you there?

LAUER: Alright, we gotta go.

GUTHRIE: You know what, Howard? I plead the Fifth!

STERN: Alright, spoken like a lawyer.

(...)

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.