The reason behind Ann Curry’s Today show exit is still a mystery to her. The 63-year-old journalist opens up about her 2012 ousting from the NBC morning show in a new interview with Elle, admitting she doesn’t “really understand” why she was replaced after becoming a co-anchor for the morning show a year prior.
“I know I did nothing wrong. I know I was good at my job,” Curry, who had been at Today since 1997, tells the magazine. “…The bottom line is that it still hurts. It honestly hurts really deeply, because I really think I did nothing wrong.”
“But in spite of the pain of it, which still lingers, I know that I contributed to some people suffering less,” she continues. “But I tell you, it was tough. It was hard to walk that line, to not add more [suffering]. Boy, oh boy, was it tough.”
In the years since Curry’s Today departure, many, including herself, have speculated about why she was pushed out. One theory involves her then-co-anchor, Matt Lauer. Curry says she told management that “they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women” after a colleague confided in her about his alleged inappropriate behavior.
At the time, Curry kept details at a minimum in an effort to protect the identity of the woman who approached her. Though Curry knows she did the right thing holding the woman’s identity and full story back, she admits it was “tough” to not do more.
“I have no interest in hurting people; my only interest is in figuring out if I can help,” she says. “I was in a position where, as a reporter, I was unable to talk about it. I was asked, ‘Please keep this to yourself.’ I kept that confidence, as I should have. That was tough.”
“… In so many ways, [I’ve had to be] like water between rocks. To figure out the path that might help some and not hurt others,” she adds. “I think at this point, after all that’s been said and done, it just feels unhelpful, and potentially hurtful, to talk about this. I would say that we all know, especially we women, we know what those rocks are… My biggest concern is not hurting others at the moment. Helping but not hurting — that’s the water between rocks.”
Lauer was fired from the show years later, in 2017, amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. In a statement at the time, Lauer said that, though all the allegations weren’t correct, “there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.” He was later accused of rape, an allegation he denied.
“They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. You can read the tea leaves. But you know, I’m a fact-based reporter, so it’s hard for me to go out there, with something so close to the vest. I don’t know. I don’t know,” Curry says of the reason behind her firing, before revealing if she thinks speaking up about Lauer played a role in the decision.
“I still don’t really understand it. If I had known what was happening in the back rooms of power, then I would know. I obviously was not in those rooms,” she says. “… I think that many people have guessed why [I was replaced], but I’ve held myself back. I’ve asked people why, and I haven’t gotten a good answer.”
Despite her untimely ousting, Curry is proud of the work she was able to put out while on Today.
“I’m very proud, in spite of everything, of all the work I was able to achieve,” she says. “I don’t really think about it very often; I really don’t. But when I do, it does hurt still, because it takes time to heal. But what I’ve learned is that you rise stronger.”
In fact, even with the negative experiences she endured during her time on the show and after her departure, Curry says she’d do it “all over again” to tell the stories she’s told.
“I feel like I’ve done everything I should have done. I’m perhaps earnest to a fault. If I had to do it over again, and it meant going through it all over again, to accomplish the kind of reporting I’m really proud of, I would,” she says, before admitting that the hardest part of her ousting was seeing that the type of stories she reported on, often ones focused on geopolitics, are no longer being told.
“The sadness is, those stories, [after I left], stopped being done. There is a higher calling than selling newspapers or TV time. The internet has threatened the amount of money that major media organizations can make,” she says. “But if you’re in a service industry, maybe you shouldn’t be making so much money. Maybe [journalism] shouldn’t be a fundraising opportunity for megamillionaires.”
Curry says she has “no regrets about how I’ve behaved” — from speaking out about Lauer to her comments in the years since. In fact, her behavior has made more women feel comfortable enough to turn to her with their own stories about her former co-host.
“There has been more than one [woman] who’s come to me now [about Lauer]. I hope they’ve come to me because they know that I’ll be empathetic and compassionate. I’m a right-and-a-wrong girl. And I’m happy to be their friend,” she says. “This is a deep level of suffering, from what I’ve learned. They’re dealing with trauma that threatens to be lifelong.”
Watch the video below for more on Curry’s Today departure.
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