After 14 years on NBC's Today show and only one year as host, The New York Times reports that Ann Curry is being fired. Curry was named co-anchor of the morning show last June, replacing Meredith Vieira. It's expected that Curry will transition to a new post as an NBC News correspondent. Word of Curry's ousting comes as rival show Good Morning America is expected to outdraw Today in the ratings for the fifth time in 10 weeks, a feat it first achieved in April (until which point Today had been the morning show king for 16 years). After being groomed for the job for so long, why didn't Curry work out? Here, six theories:
1. She was too newsy
Curry proudly touted herself as a news person first, says James Poniewozik at TIME. While she managed to "register genuine feeling when reporting on a humanitarian disaster," she often appeared bored during cooking and celebrity segments, and her inability to bridge the gap between the show's harder and softer news segments turned off viewers. "I'm at my core a hard-news reporter," Curry told The Daily Beast last fall. "I want more spinach and less sugar in this big meal we give viewers." Ultimately, that was her downfall.
2. She didn't jibe with Matt Lauer
Curry's co-anchor Matt Lauer has privately told people that the two of them lack chemistry, says Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast, which was clearly a dealbreaker. Lauer recently signed a $25-million-a-year deal to stick with Today, making him the future of the franchise. "If he's not feeling a comfortable rapport with his on-air partner, the network has to take that very seriously."
3. She didn't measure up to past hosts
Curry was much better at the news desk, says Mack Rawden at Cinema Blend, and always seemed "a bit of a downgrade from Meredith Vieira." Today producers announced several weeks ago that they had signed "a big mystery 'get'," says Lisa De Moraes at The Washington Post, and, tellingly, it turned out to be Vieira, who'll be helping out with the show's Summer Olympics coverage. Curry has just "never had the charisma to pull off the gig," says Wendy Michaels at Lime Life. "I miss Meredith."
4. She's always been awkward
Curry's firing should come as no surprise to regular viewers, says Caity Weaver at Gawker. It's routinely wince-inducing to watch her "clomp awkwardly through an interview, sometimes whispering to [demonstrate that] she knows what 'concerned' is; sometimes shooting her arm out with a mechanical jerk to pat a guest on the shoulder because it is something she saw a human do once." She was an uncomfortable presence.
5. Her racial and cultural background may have handicapped her
"There's an inescapable sense that Ms. Curry is outside the group in a subtle but unmistakable way," says Mike Hale in The New York Times. It could be because Curry is "biracial (Japanese-American) and spent part of her early childhood overseas, a situation that has been known to generate self-reliance and reserve." This might have subconsciously worked against her, theorizes Hale, as she struggled to fit in with her gushier on-air co-workers. "Barack Obama probably wouldn't make the warmest of morning show hosts," either.
6. NBC has to do something
After ceding its lead in the ratings to Good Morning America briefly this spring, "it's obvious why Today is looking to mix things up," says Anna Moeslein at Glamour. "If the Matt-and-Ann pairing isn't working," says Kurtz, NBC is wise not "to let the situation drag on." There's too much at stake. To some degree, Curry is being scapegoated, says Rawden. She's only been on the job for just over a year. Saddling her with all the blame for the show's problem is "a bit premature."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- Why 2014 may be as good as it gets for the Republican Party
- The U.S. government is actually trouncing Ebola. When will it get credit?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The simple trick to making better decisions in every aspect of life
- Why America needs more billionaires
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
Subscribe to the Week