By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR
As an Asian American woman, it was heartbreaking watching Ann Curry today as she said farewell to her brief time as anchor of “The Today Show.” As everybody knows, Curry was removed from the position just a year after she was elevated to the spot once filled by likes of Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric and Jane Pauley.
After weeks of rumors, she confirmed that she would be leaving, taking on an as-yet-undefined role as a roving anchor for the network. It seemed a cruel farewell for someone who has been a trouper throughout, a good soldier and a classy presence on morning television.
Curry had broken through the familiar sidekick role that Asian women often play and had been elevated to the top. It didn’t last, and she seemed very aware of the fact, saying tearfully in her farewell on Thursday morning, “For all of you who saw me as a ground-breaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t get the ball over the finish line — but man, I did try.”
That felt addressed to those like me who would never have thought a biracial Japanese American could ever anchor a show as venerable and mainstream as “The Today Show.”
The New York Times last week alluded to Curry’s ethnicity when they called her a “stepsister,” questioning whether growing up overseas as an Army brat made it harder for her to connect with others on the show, notably anchor Matt Lauer.
But typical Midwest white soccer moms aren’t the only ones who are “relatable,” are they? I feel like I crossed the threshold into middle age when I started watching “The Today Show” in the morning. Drinking my coffee as they interviewed Justin Bieber or talked about the latest child-in-danger warning for parents has become a morning ritual.
Curry seemed awkward at times, trying to fit into that mix of fawning superficiality and soft news that has become the modern morning news show. Hopefully her new role presents Curry with chances to report on international news and other hard-hitting stories, but I for one will miss the goofy stuff you don’t usually get to see Asians do: the bungee jumping, the food tasting, the cuddling of odd furry and feathered animals.
On a historic day when the Supreme Court ruled on President Obama’s affordable healthcare act, the fate of one extremely well-paid news anchor may not mean all that much. But I’m a bit sadder knowing Curry won’t be there on the couch tomorrow morning.
NBC treated Ann Curry abominably. After the big splashy send off given to Meredith Vieira, NBC gave Ann a couple of minutes of airtime and shooed her away as if she had done something wrong. Not the way to say goodbye to a loyal employee of 15 years who was game to go anywhere and do anything the network and The Today Show asked of her. While the show was not a good fit for Ann’s strengths, the situation should and could have been handled with the grace she deserved.
Sad to see this happen, she tried and imho was one of the most emo interviewers I’ve ever seen on major league television. Her heart, big one, was on her sleeve. She got the victims to interview for all the horrendous murder and disaster stories. Watching the goodbye was heartbreaking.
Lauer seemed to work very well with Meredith; otoh, it seemed that Matt didn’t warm to her. Am glad she made it that far, and that the network will put her on stories (harder news) that will ensure her continued employment.
Hat’s off to Ann Curry.