The latest chapter in the Ann Curry saga is yet another decidedly unpleasant one. At least, if you’re in the camp of Curry supporters. And there a quite a few, as evident by the online grassroots effort to keep the 55-year-old Today co-host at her post.
In a recent article regarding Curry’s possible impending departure, a former NBC executive told the New York Times, “When she relates to people one on one, there’s a real empathy she has. Sometimes in the studio that seems overwhelming. It’s like, come on now, we’re talking serious issues.” If that didn’t feel like a cynical view of our times — a journalist being disregarded for having empathy rather than, say, being detached or treating their work as less than its importance — nothing will.
But it’s cynicism that Conan O’Brien, when he famously went his separate ways from NBC, warned us all against. Especially in matters like this. “All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien pleaded with his supporters during his last episode of The Tonight Show, “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
Those words feel especially poignant here because, despite their situations being different on a variety of levels, Curry and O’Brien’s relationship with the network that employed them for a large portion of their respective careers (he 17, she 14) feels quite similar. Their perseverance, quality, and strong, if not, unconventional work ethic ultimately didn’t solidify loyalty over fears regarding sagging ratings. Of course, a true cynic would tell you, in the grand scheme of the television game, ratings is the only thing that matters.
If Curry is, in fact, replaced on Today (be it by Savannah Guthrie, whose name has long been mentioned, or now, as the New York Daily News reports, Hota Kotb, which would leave a huge lingering question mark regarding the fourth hour of Today), it will be interesting to see the trajectory she will take her career from there on. While it’s unlikely the legion of Team Curry supporters will create the same kind of frenzy or culture as Team Coco when Jay Leno reclaimed his job at The Tonight Show, it does seem likely Curry will take a similar approach that O’Brien did when faced with an uncertain future: keep working.
Curry, like O’Brien, is devoted to her craft. Curry could get back into the type of hard news she reportedly missed doing while on Today. She could (and perhaps should) a cue from O’Brien, who took his show on the road (literally) and had a fresh start at a new network. A cynic might tell you his career has never been the same. An optimist will tell you, that’s the best thing that could have happened.
[Photo credit: NBC]