Photo Credit: Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images News; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
On Saturday, Today (NBC, weekdays, 7 a.m. ET) announced on its website that Sarah Palin will join Tuesday's show as a guest cohost. No doubt some viewers raised an eyebrow at this news! Today, of course, is the former home of Katie Couric, who's been seen as a sort of nemesis to the former vice presidential candidate ever since the gaffe she made during a 2008 interview. (Remember Palin's inability to tell Couric one newspaper she read regularly?)
And now Palin's going to fill the seat that Couric once occupied? It seems odd. But during an on-air phone call with Today Monday morning, Palin said that the invitation to appear reflected Today's open-minded format. "I appreciate NBC's boldness in having me on," she said. "Doesn't it kind of reflect the diversity of opinions that I hear that you all espoused?"
"Or desperation," quipped Meredith Vieira (who happened to be in the studio to announce that she would be co-hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games for NBC). "Desperation" might be overstating it, and Vieira was joking. But Today has been readying some intriguing programming to counter this week's ratings-boosting guest host at its rival, ABC's Good Morning America. Who's GMA's big sub host? None other than... Couric, whose ABC talk show Katie launches in September.
Some media outlets have reported that the execs at Today were surprised that their former star plans to do her perky morning thing on a rival network. For instance, Fox411 learned that Today producers "are anxious to win the ratings" against Couric and "have the staff on red alert to book guests that will keep viewers tuned into their broadcast."
In addition to Palin's appearance, Today has also trumpeted that a "legend" is returning to the show, and that Ryan Seacrest will make a big announcement on the show on Tuesday.
Truth be told, the former Alaska governor is a sure way to draw viewers. Her outspoken opinions have a way of riling up people on both sides of the political debate, for very different reasons. And she's happy to stir the pot!
"Oh my goodness, there's so much to weigh in on," she told Lauer during her call. "Hopefully we won't bore viewers with so much political talk. There's so many issues going on with energy prices and some national security issues have to be addressed. And I think no matter what it is that we discuss, somehow it's going to turn into a bit of a political discussion because it's absolutely paramount right now that people are paying attention to what's going on in our country in order to make good decisions to get it back on the right track, guys."
Her cohosts may or may not agree with all her views, but it will be fun watching them try to spark a conversation about one issue: What did she really think of Julianne Moore's portrayal of her as ditzy and unwound in HBO's Game Change? We'll have to tune in to find out!