Los Angeles Times

Matt Lauer's exit from 'Today' could hurt the show's ratings — and morning TV

NEW YORK - In the nearly 66-year history of NBC's "Today," the program that invented morning television, all of its stars have been considered part of an extended family.

Every few years, regardless of whether they were fired or unceremoniously replaced, the hosts reappear to help celebrate a show milestone. Even J. Fred Muggs, the chimp who was removed for biting guests on the program in the 1950s, was invited back. They were part of the "Today" legacy - a carefully molded, yet intimate, group of personalities welcomed into the homes of millions of Americans each morning.

But Matt Lauer may never show up in the program's Rockefeller Plaza studio again after the network announced Wednesday that he

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