Book Review: Top of the Morning by Brian Stelter

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Rating: 4 / 5

NBC’s Today Show has been the morning television darling for well over 800 weeks.  Arguably the strongest time in Today Show history was when Katie Couric and Matt Lauer anchored the show. In Top of the Morning, Stelter goes behind the scenes, with the histories of Today Show, GMA, and This Morning, but also delves into the downfall of the Today Show, which was helped generously with the public axing of Ann Curry, and the ascension of GMA as the number one morning television show.

I found Top of the Morning fascinating on many fronts.  Turning on the television in the morning, viewers are met with pleasant and generally mild mannered anchors reporting on the latest news with a healthy dose of pop culture news or cooking segments.  Behind the scenes, though, it is a whole different ballgame.  I never knew a morning show could be so politically charged, with backstabbing and mild bullying taking place.  Stelter details the firing of Ann Curry in great detail, and the backlash and criticism Lauer faced as co-host of the Today Show.

I didn’t realize how important ratings are to morning shows.  Stelter provided great inside information on the machination of ratings, and how they translate to advertising dollars, which is why the weekly ratings numbers are so important in broadcasting.  It is shocking how cutthroat the morning show industry is, just to move up in ratings.

Growing up, I used to have Today Show on every morning. Last year though, I unconsciously switched over to GMA.  As the book documents, the GMA hosts (Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Laura Spencer, and Sam Champion) have better chemistry and overall seem more genuine than their counterparts at Today Show.  I thought Top of the Morning was interesting, but only if you know the players.  If you don’t watch either the Today Show or GMA, then this book will be irrelevant.

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