‘Today’ show transitions from Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie

The New York Times | New York Post | The Wrap | Tampa Bay Times
Reported new co-host Savannah Guthrie was on “Today” Friday morning, the show’s famous couch apparently dry after Ann Curry’s tearful goodbye Thursday. Writing in The New York Times, Brian Stelter says NBC’s “priority now was protecting Mr. Lauer and Ms. Guthrie from the wrath of Ms. Curry’s fans, thousands of whom posted angry comments online after her announcement.”

For that reason, Ms. Guthrie’s promotion will be introduced relatively quietly, with little of the fanfare that accompanied Ms. Curry’s elevation to the role one year ago or Meredith Vieira’s arrival in 2006. The change probably will not be announced on the show until July 9 …

The New York Post’s sources disagree, saying Guthrie “finalized her contract with NBC early in the week” and that the network will make an announcement about her Friday.

Both Stelter and The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman liken Curry’s departure to NBC’s hamfisted ouster of Conan O’Brien as host of “The Tonight Show.” NBC, Waxman writes, “has once again managed to wring a lose-lose out of a delicate management situation.”

The Times’ Alessandra Stanley writes about Curry’s awkward goodbye:

Highlight reels are the gold watch of television news, and “Today” showed a long, affectionate one of Ms. Curry, from her first days in local news to her trip to the South Pole, where she planted the NBC flag. It included goofy moments clowning on the set, and also a tableau that seemed — under the circumstances — somewhat insensitive. Ms. Curry, ebullient as ever, leaned in to Mr. Lauer, who was wearing an arm sling. “Don’t come anywhere near me with a hug,” he said, jokingly, but perhaps not entirely so.

Writing in the Tampa Bay Times, Eric Deggans raises another disconcerting parallel: Deborah Norville replacing Jane Pauley on the show in 1989:

The audience felt Pauley got pushed out – morning news draws lots of female viewers who didn’t like seeing a woman who may have paid a price for getting older – and NBC dropped to second place in the ratings.

Here’s a flashback to the day Pauley announced her departure:

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