News Column

Ann Curry Deserved Better Exit From 'Today'

July 9, 2012

Kristi Turnquist

Ann Curry

Considering we're easing into the slow summer programming months, it's been a busy few weeks in the TV world. We've seen the unceremonious removal of Ann Curry from the "Today" show co-host chair; Anderson Cooper officially declaring that he's gay; and the death of television legend Andy Griffith.

These events crossed over from the realm of fluffy entertainment reports, the land of Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce rumors and all things Kardashian, into genuine news stories. The reasons, though, are as varied as the individuals involved. Curry was only a year into her new job; Cooper's announcement has resonance, in light of the ongoing debate over gay marriage equality; and Griffith was a nostalgic symbol of a simpler time.

Related story:"Ann Curry Fights for Journalism"

Oregonians, though, had a special interest in Curry's story, and the shabby way she was treated. Curry has deep roots in the state, having graduated from Ashland High School and earned her bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon. Her first on-air job in television was as an intern at a station in Medford. Longtime Portlanders will remember when Curry worked for KGW in the early 1980s.

After joining "Today" as the news anchor in 1997, she ascended to the co-host job about a year ago, amid much fanfare and celebration. During her first broadcast in her role, Curry said, "I really feel like Cinderella." This was, she said more than once, her dream job.

But as the network saw a drop in the "Today" show ratings this year, blame started landing on Curry's shoulders. Never mind that ABC's "Good Morning America" got a viewership lift from having cast-offs and winners of the highly rated "Dancing With the Stars" as regular features. "Today" co-host Matt Lauer somehow escaped blame.

No, the problem, the powers-that-be concluded, was Curry. On June 20, The New York Times reported that she was being replaced, but as negotiations dragged on, Curry still had to sit in her co-host chair and pretend that everything was normal in "Today" world. She was a total professional, up until she let the tears come in her on-air farewell, a segment awkwardly tucked into the end of the June 28 "Today" broadcast.

Curry is moving on to what sounds like a job that will be a more comfortable fit for her passion for international reporting -- she's the newly named NBC News National and International Correspondent/Anchor and "Today" Anchor at Large (whatever that means). And she gets paid lots of money. But it was still galling to see her left to twist slowly in the public wind while the network and Lauer -- who was reportedly instrumental in pushing for Savannah Guthrie to replace Curry -- cruised along.

Curry, and her viewers, deserved better.

Source: (c)2012 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

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