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Former Intern's Unflattering Claim Prompts Apology (of Sorts) From Matt Lauer THR

It’s being called an apology, but “Today” host Matt Lauer’s response to an unflattering tweet about him appears to fall into the “sorry you took it the wrong way” category.

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed, Lauer’s former intern Mark Zinni -- now an anchor at Fox’s Cleveland affiliate -- tweeted that when he was an intern, Lauer was “not so nice.” Zinni also tweeted: "I was just a young kid with a bright future ahead of me."

Lauer, who has been embroiled in drama ever since NBC’s “Today” show sank in the ratings and Lauer was blamed by many viewers for the awkward ouster of Ann Curry, responded with his own tweet, writing: "huh? Always tried to be nice Mark. Sorry you didn't think so. Hope you're doing well."

THR adds: “Lesson to important TV anchors: Be polite to the ‘little’ people in the newsroom because one day they might call you out on Twitter in your darkest moment.”

Zinni followed up Thursday with a series of social media posts, including "be careful what you say on twitter, ha!" and "For the record, i wasn't 'disgruntled' ... I had a great time in '97!"

The timing appears to be bad for Lauer, with speculation currently swirling about his future on “Today.”

“As his reputation takes more hits, many media observers wonder how long Lauer, whose contract runs through 2014, will remain in the co-anchor's chair alongside Curry replacement Savannah Guthrie,” THR reports. “On Wednesday, NBC executives and sources close to Anderson Cooper denied reports that the CNN anchor had been approached about Lauer's job: The network did reach out to Cooper, THR reported, but he is not in line to replace Lauer.”

Zinni commented on his Twitter exchange in a post Thursday on FOX8.com, writing: "Darren Sweeney, an executive producer at FOX 8, asked about my experience with Matt Lauer. If you know me, you probably know that I don’t take myself too seriously. So, my answer was more of a joke about being young and naive during my time at Today, but I added that he wasn’t nice to me. I didn’t slam the guy, I just made an honest comment."

Zinni also wrote: "Twitter is a great resource for everyone because it’s instant and, thankfully, shorter than a phone call. Bottom line, I was shocked Matt Lauer even bothered with me and, really, he remembers me? I’m flattered."

mark-zinni.jpgMark Zinni