Former "Today Show" co-host Ann Curry may not have been able to hold on to her morning show crown for long, or claim ratings victory in the cut-throat battle that is morning television. But one thing is crystal clear after her excruciatingly painful sign-off today: She emerged the only winner in this behind-the-scenes tug-o-war created by NBC, though it's doubtful she feels that way now.
Whuh? Winner? That's right! This episode in the network's programming of missteps (remember that guy Conan?) will haunt her the rest of her life, yes. But her heartfelt and tearful goodbye to her television audience this morning, and the way she has conducted herself in recent weeks as the speculation and gossip fueled by anonymous 'insiders' grew in size from a tropical depression to a category four hurricane, was nothing short of graceful and dignified.
She deserves the Emmy the show received. Throw in an Academy Award for best performance while you're at it for having to sit next to co-host Matt Lauer, who reportedly helped seal her fate. Handling herself with the-show-must-go-on composure and still reporting for work is admirable.
Firing someone, or demoting them, is never easy. But shame on the network for breaking the cardinal rule of putting it out there for the courts of public opinion, a few leaks at a time. The anonymous executives who were critical of Curry's style in the NY Times may have hoped they were providing justification for making changes (which they certainly are entitled to do), but allowing information to leak out BEFORE things transpired was a dirty trick to pull on someone who had given so many years of loyalty.
I'm a tv news veteran, and well aware of what is at stake and why changes are made. They are purely business decisions, not personal. But it is impossible, as Curry has said, to NOT take it personally when the 'situation' is handled so insensitively.
Some years back, I was the small-market version of Ann Curry, only my exit was somewhat thinly-veiled as a 'new' opportunity. A dear friend of mine suffered the same fate a number of years ago on the morning show of a rival network, again, for the masses to watch.
So i've been doing a lot of empathizing the past couple of weeks with Ms. Curry. Props to her for displaying class and grace, when certainly no one would blame her if she ranted on twitter or Facebook like everyone seems to do these days.
Most people's demotion or firing won't be played out on such a public stage. For the rest of us, if or when it happens, take cues from the likes of Ann Curry, whom I will regard from now on more for being such a class act than for being an experienced correspondent.
If you are on the receiving end of the pink slip, hold your head up high. Hard as it may be, try not to take it personally. Don't exit kicking and screaming. Express nothing but appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity, and the relationships you were able to build. Reserve your criticism, especially in the social media orbit. That workplace bridge may now have cracks in it, but for heaven's sake don't burn it down by badmouthing your former boss or co-wokers.
Curry-gate may be over for NBC, but long after the former co-host resumes filing reports from faraway lands, my hunch is the network will still be remembered for mishandling this employment situation, while Ann Curry will be praised deservedly for the decorum she displayed by rising above the mess and carrying on with a brave face and a head held high. THAT, Really 'Manners' A lot!