Two years ago, it was nearly relocated to CBS News. NBC News management had signed off on letting everyone on the show out of their contracts to take over mornings on CBS.
Scarborough recalled a time he called Jim Bell, then executive producer of the ‘‘Today’’ show, and Bell came to the phone saying, ‘‘How’s the guy on the least-watched and most talked-about morning show?’’
‘‘I said, ‘Fine, Jim, how’s the guy who works on the most-watched and least talked-about morning show?'’’ he said. ‘‘I think if you gave the ‘Today’ show the chance to still have that distinction they would take it in a second because being talked-about is not all that it is cracked up to be.’’
While the exchange was likely little more than locker room trash talking, Scarborough and Brzezinski found it typified an attitude among some people at NBC News who weren’t quite comfortable with their show’s opinionated format. ‘‘We didn’t really feel like we were at home here,’’ Brzezinski said. It was telling they were being allowed to go without a fight.
Both hosts were intrigued at the thought of reaching a bigger audience at CBS, and their producer, Chris Licht, ultimately jumped. Brzezinski, a former CBS News reporter, wondered if they'd have the same freedom.
Then Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, called Scarborough upstairs, wondering why he was being asked to approve giving away a show he and his friends watched every day. He urged them to stay, that things will work out, and it would be the best decision they'd ever made.
‘‘He was right,’’ Scarborough said. ‘‘Because we get to do everything we want here.’’
Scarborough has been approached about getting back into politics, and it’s telling that he doesn’t dismiss out of hand reports that he might want to run for president someday. At the same time, he’s well aware there are few jobs that will give him the influence (and money), he has now.
‘‘He and Mika have created something very fresh and different,’’ Griffin said. ‘‘I think that would be a hard thing to walk away from.’’
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter (at)dbauder.