Feature

Did NBC botch its firing of Ann Curry?

Many loyal viewers are furious with NBC for pushing Curry out of the Today anchor chair amid a steady stream of anonymous press leaks and back-channel criticism

Ann Curry said her tearful, unceremonious farewell as a co-anchor on NBC's Today show on Thursday, and it was "hard to watch, even if we all saw this one coming," says Pat Clark at The Modesto Bee. While many observers have long felt that Curry was never quite right for the job, NBC sources had been anonymously trashing her in the press for a week. (Savannah Guthrie is expected to replace Curry.) If that sounds familiar, it's because NBC did the same thing with Conan O'Brien, says Sharon Waxman at The Wrap. As with Conan, Curry "was left hanging out to dry, embarrassing the network [and] angering dedicated viewers" who don't like seeing years of loyalty rewarded "with an undignified escort to the curb." Did NBC once again bungle a high-profile demotion of on-air talent?

The Peacock Network blew it... again: "Can't this network do anything right?" asks Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter. Its handling of Curry's ouster from her dream job seems "like both calculated assassination and [a] bizarrely ill-timed roll of the dice." Sadly, that's par for the course at NBC. It's clear the "bean counters" call the shots, and they blame Curry for their cash-cow morning show's recent ratings slump. Even if that's true — a big if — show some class. NBC's knack for "pushing its people out on a raft it just lit on fire" is "starting to get pathological."
"Did NBC just botch the Ann Curry issue?"

But NBC had few good options: NBC executives were never sold on Curry as Matt Lauer's co-anchor, says Stephen Battaglio in TV Guide. But they'd passed her over once, for Meredith Vieira, and "any initial doubts about how well Curry [would click] with Lauer were outweighed by fears that passing her over again" would cause a repeat of the debacle in 1989, when NBC kicked out "a still-beloved Jane Pauly" for short-lived Deborah Norville. Back then, viewer wrath sent Today "into a devastating ratings dive." If NBC faces a backlash again, at least they can claim that they gave Curry her shot.
"Inside Ann Curry's Today exit — What went wrong"

Either way, NBC's flub is Curry's gain: Before NBC started sticking the shiv in her back last week, "Curry was not all that well liked," says Willa Paskin at Salon. But when NBC "very publicly and shadily wronged her," Curry turned into the TV version of the archetypal "wronged political wife." She dutifully showed up to work, even while admitting that the furtive trash-talking "hurt deeply." And her "very tearful, raw, and occasionally difficult-to-watch goodbye" sealed the deal. Curry not only scored a new $10 million deal, she's also "never been more likable now that she has been so publicly wronged."
"Ann Curry is not really sorry"

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