The Today show, which ousted Ann Curry from its couch last June, has more than just declining ratings to account for. In Brian Stelter’s new book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, the media reporter sheds shocking new light on Ann Curry’s devastating departure.
In her final year, the Today show was a cold and cruel place for Ann Curry. Curry, who started with the show in 1997 and ascended to co-anchor chair in June 2011, was a fearless female correspondent who exhibited emotional investment in her subjects. It was this transparent kindness and commitment which made her beloved by Today’s five million fans. But despite her heartfelt fervor, Ann Curry was shipped off from the show in the most despicable daytime disaster to date.
So what was behind Ann Curry’s awful oust? According to Stelter, Ann Curry’s shaky chemistry with Matt Lauer doomed her tenure at Today from the start. When the show’s 16-year streak of rating victories were upset by rival Good Morning America, Curry was served up as the scapegoat. In a three-part plan, Stelter reveals, the Today show’s executive producer, Jim Bell, devised a scheme to fire his top female correspondent and replace her with the younger Savannah Guthrie. The scheme, Stelter says, was given the name “Operation Bambi,” after Bell was told that firing Curry would be the equivalent of “killing Bambi.”
And if the Today show’s dishonest design to fire its co-anchor wasn’t enough, Ann Curry’s last year on air was fraught with mean-spirited foul play. According to Stelter, the cast and crew spent much of their time in the control room mocking Curry’s on-air outfits. In the spring of 2012, for instance, Today show staff openly made fun of a bright yellow dress Curry wore during a broadcast. Photoshopping a photo of Big Bird alongside a picture of Curry, Today show employees took an US Weekly-inspired poll, asking the crew to vote on “Who Wore It Best?” Even Bell wasn’t exempt from the bullying. In Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, Stelter confirms that the Today show producer “commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes.” He also, according to another anonymous producer, scheduled a meeting to teach Today show staff a lesson in live blunders, using a mistake made by Curry as his example. Bell, of course, has denied the bullying allegations.
Curry, however, kept her class and cool. In an emotional on-air send-off, the show’s co-anchor thanked her viewers, more so than her colleagues, for watching and supporting her. “I have loved you and I wanted to give you the world and I still do,” she said. Curry also admitted that she “never expected to leave this couch after 15 years.” Hinting at the network’s shameful behind-the-scenes scheme, Curry told her viewers: “For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball over the finish line, but man I did try.”
WATCH ANN CURRY'S EMOTIONAL TODAY SHOW EXIT
The Today show’s terrible treatment of Ann Curry continues to deeply affect the former co-anchor. Curry, who was been keeping a low-profile following her humiliating dismissal, has categorized her last few months in front of the camera as “a form of professional torture.” Although Curry is currently surrounded by familial support, she remains “profoundly hurt” by the bullying of the Today show’s all-boys club.
Brian Stelter’s book,Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, on the Today show conspiracy against Ann Curry, will be released next week.