In the afterglow of signing a reported $25 million a year contract to continue co-hosting the "Today" show, Matt Lauer is again facing allegations he fathered the second son of the morning show's news anchor, Natalie Morales.
The National Enquirer cited an anonymous source this week who claimed: "The Matt Lauer love child scandal is the worst-kept-secret among the network morning shows."
The malicious accusation first surfaced in 2008 when Morales announced she was pregnant with baby number two. At the time, the National Enquirer quoted a source who said the two NBC news stars had gotten cozy while covering the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy together and had remained close since that time.
Some amateur detectives even concluded Morales' son, Luke, resembles Lauer more than he does her investment banker husband, Joe Rhodes.
Lending credibility to the baby daddy rumor, Lauer's marriage to Annette Roque was rocky during this time span, with sporadic episodes of rumored separations.
Four years later, Lauer and Morales are still married to their respective spouses, but the so-called love child rumor remains alive and well.
Some insiders speculate that Lauer's professional rivals want to topple the balding-but-boyish "Today" host by tarnishing his family man image. Says one TV insider, "The morning show competition has never been hotter and Matt is the reigning king. Everyone wants to see him get knocked off his pedestal, and that's why these outrageous baby daddy rumors have resurfaced."
Other conspiracy theorists wonder if Ann Curry's people are stirring the pot. Rumor has it Lauer is not as crazy about his new co-star as he was with former couch mates Meredith Vieira and Katie Couric. He may even blame the empathy oozer for the show's shrinking ratings. Lauer and Curry's on-screen chemistry is palpably weak, and pictures of the pair look stiff and forced. It is possible Curry's PR people are behind the revival of the love child rumor to pre-empt Lauer from getting his brunette co-host fired.
Baby daddy rumors are troublesome for the mainstream media, which ignore sketchy stories because they don't want to get skunked. The National Enquirer insisted presidential candidate wannabe John Edwards was the father of Rielle Hunter's baby, but it took months before the more respectable press decided there was enough evidence to prove the story was true.
Meanwhile, tabloids made way too much of the bogus paternity suit against pop star Justin Bieber, so it makes sense for the media to be gun shy about hopping on another baby daddy bandwagon.
For now, with only anonymous sources willing to spill on an alleged Lauer-Morales love child, the story is likely as realistic as "reality" TV.
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