NBC’s co-hosts for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer were tasked with coming up with witty banter for an hours-long television broadcast that a billion people were watching.
Some aspects of Britain’s big Olympics show contained elements of the country’s history that were likely lost on most viewers, like the British National Health Service fever dream segment. But it was Vieira’s repeated admissions that she didn’t know anything about a given aspect of director Danny Boyle’s elaborate production that drew the ire of many viewers.
When Lauer described the effect of using small screens at every seat in the stadium as pixels that turned the entire venue into a giant screen, Vieira replied, “One more thing I don’t understand.” Vieira is no idiot, and both she and Lauer undoubtedly had a staff present to make them look sharp on-air, so why would a host play dumb in front of a billion people?
How do television personalities pander to large audiences?
Justin Peters, editor at large for the Columbia Journalism Review