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Bryant Gumbel asks why Ann Curry is being portrayed as a victim

July 18, 2012|By Steven Zeitchik
  • Former 'Today' co-host Ann Curry
Former 'Today' co-host Ann Curry (Getty Images )

Ann Curry has had many defenders in her recent battle with NBC and “Today,” whose co-host chair she was, of course, forced to vacate.

But the TV personality doesn’t win any sympathy from one prominent former"Today"figure.

Bryant Gumbel, the broadcaster who presided over the morning program for 15 years, said he feels Curry has received overly favorable treatment. Curry’s ouster, Gumbel believes, was a simple matter of ratings, and he wonders why so many observers and commentators have rallied so vocally to her defense.

“I’m surprised and disappointed at this idea that Ann was a martyr, that she was thrown under the bus,” Gumbel told Show Tracker. “I don’t know why she’s being portrayed as a modern-day Joan of Arc. In every job, in every walk of life, people are hired to do a job, and if they don't do it well they are relieved of that job.”

The famously frank journalist added, “It’s a big-boy business, and when things don’t work out, people are asked to leave. It’s happened to me; it’s happened to almost everyone in this business."

NBC struggled with ratings in the year that Curry, a former news reader for the program, occupied the host's chair, facing increased pressure from archrival "Good Morning America" (though the early days of Curry's replacement, Savannah Guthrie, have brought their own dip).

Gumbel acknowledges he is “best friends” with “Today” co-host Matt Lauer, with whom Curry reportedly had a frosty relationship. But Gumbel said that it was his concern for "Today” staffers — and how they've been unfairly shouldering blame that he feels should have been Curry’s — that prompted his comments.

“It’s just not fair to the people there,” he said. “Her portrayal as Joan of Arc is patently unfair to them.” (Speaking of NBC, Gumbel, who currently hosts the long-form journalism program “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” on HBO, is also is not a huge fan of how the network has handled recent Olympics telecasts; more on that in a separate post.)

Gumbel said he doesn’t watch “Today,” in keeping with a practice he began during his own run between 1982 and 1997. “I’m not a TV watcher and I’m not a morning-show watcher,” he said.

As for the new co-host of the show, Gumbel said he has no strong feelings as yet. He has met Guthrie, he said, but doesn’t know her well. “Matt tells me she’s a good person, and I believe him,” he said.


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