As The Today Show tries to figure out how to stave off the charge by Good Morning, America, NBC executives apparently have decided that co-host Ann Curry should get the blame for the show’s ratings dip. The New York Times broke the story that NBC executives are in talks with Curry to figure out how they can move her into another role, perhaps as a foreign correspondent, capitalizing on one of her biggest strengths.
When Good Morning America beat Today in the ratings battle in April for the first time in 16 years, television insiders began to speculate that part of the problem was the lack of chemistry between Curry and Matt Lauer. But of course Lauer, who just renegotiated his contract in April for a reported $25 million a year, will never be in danger of being moved, as he is considered one of the most valuable properties in television. Because it generates hundreds of million of dollars in ad revenue and is credited with inventing the morning show format, the dramas of the Today Show co-hosts have always received outsized attention, from Tom Brokaw to Jane Pauley to Bryant Gumbel to Katie Couric to Meredith Vieira and now Ann Curry, who was just promoted to replace Vieira last June.
Lauer has said Curry has “the biggest heart in television” and, indeed, she can sometimes seem close to tears when she is reporting on tragedies in the U.S. and around the world. But it is precisely her sensitivity and compassion that has endeared her to many fans, who might be so disgusted by attempts to oust her that such a move could lead to a ratings plunge for Today, leaving Good Morning America atop the heap.