The Daily Beast said Lauer told NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke he would quit if Burke thought the show was better off without him. Lauer's offer was rebuffed, with Burke telling him, "You're the best person who's ever done this. We'll get through this."
Lauer also criticized NBC, said the story by Howard Kurtz, the Daily Beast's Washington bureau chief. "I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that," adding, "It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well."
"Today" has since ceded its position as the top-rated morning show after a 16-year run to "Good Morning America," recently losing by more than a million viewers.
Lauer says he disagreed with NBC News management about how best to ease Curry off the show -- he counseled a gradual succession plan, but they wanted it done quickly. However, he did concede that he wanted another partner other than Curry even before her promotion from news anchor to succeed Meredith Vieira in 2011. He had even broached the idea of getting Katie Couric to return and that -- according to Kurtz -- "she was receptive to the idea."
The account of the behind-the-scenes drama was confirmed by "Today" spokeswoman Megan Kopf Monday, The Associated Press reports.