Ann Curry tells 'Today' show viewers, 'I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line'
"Today" show co-anchor Ann Curry spoke with USA Today on Wednesday about leaving her job on the morning show after only a year. Curry will become "Today" show anchor-at-large and NBC News national/international correspondent, a change that has been rumored for more than a week.
"I don't know who has been behind the leaks, but no question they've hurt deeply," Curry told Susan Page. "In journalism school, you never take a class on what to do when you're the focus of the story."
In two references to a New York Times story last week by Mike Hale, Curry says:
"I know I am not to blame for the ratings worries ... And my bosses have said to me there are many factors involved. There is no doubt that the rating wars have become meaner and less focused on our responsibilities as journalists."
False reports have bothered her, she said, "...whether it comes to how much I'm making or whether I'm [being] paid to leave or whether I'm hated by my colleagues when I know I'm not. And I have never felt like a stepsister at the 'Today' show family, as some have described me. I've always felt close to the people here."
Steve Capus, President of NBC News, told Page there will be other changes to the program. "We had a many-year run in first place in total viewers, and it got snapped, but since then, every week in the past month we've started a new streak ... This isn't about streaks; it's about consistent performance, and we want to continue to build the 'Today' show."
Capus told Page that "the new job [is] a better fit for Curry." But Curry, 55, did not agree: "I have called the co-host job at the 'Today' show my dream job, and I would be lying if I said it was easy to leave that job."
Curry, who will lead a seven-person team, said she will take a vacation before starting a new multi-year contract. She has been a regular on the "Today" show since 1997, when she became the program's news anchor. Savannah Guthrie is her rumored replacement.
Through tears, Curry told "Today" show viewers about her departure at the end of Thursday's broadcast:
I will still be part of the "Today" show family but I'm gonna have a new title and a new role. This is not as I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years, but I am so grateful. Especially to all of you who watch, because Matt and I and everyone who sits on this couch, we often call ourselves a family, but you are the real "Today" show family.
You are why I have ventured into dangerous places and interviewed dictators and jumped off of planes and off of bridges and climbed mountains and landed in the South Pole and convinced the Dalai Lama to come live in our studio. I have loved you, and I have wanted to give you the world, and I still do.
They're giving me some fancy new titles, which essentially means I'm going to get tickets to every big story we want to cover with a terrific team of my choosing. We're going to go all over the world and all over this country at a time when this country and this world needs clarity. We're going to do great work, I hope, and we're being given the chance to do the work that most of us got into journalism to do. And these stories are going to air on all the platforms of NBC News including here on "Today."
After all of these years, I don't even know if I can sleep in anymore. I'm not even sure I can, but I know that whatever time I wake up, I'l be missing you and I'll be believing in you. I love all of you, especially all of you who are behind the scenes, behind the cameras, I love you guys, Mark and Anthony, all of you guys, Davey, I love all of you. And I love all of our brilliant, brilliant producers. And for all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line, but man I did try.
And so to all of you who watch, thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me touch yours. And thank you for your tweets and for your emails and for your support, and I will keep trying. I'm so sorry I turned into a sob sister this morning, please forgive me, but I hope you'll wish me well.
Matt Lauer responded: "You have the biggest heart in the business."