30 June 2012

HISTORY REPEATING

UPDATE: 02/27/2016

Upon failing to meet unreasonably high expectations set by her predecessor, "Today" show co-host is sacked by NBC. No, that’s not the Ann Curry story. Rewind to 1990… Deborah Norville… and Wikipedia:
"On October 27, 1989, Jane Pauley announced after 13 years on 'Today' that she would be leaving the program at the end of the year to pursue a prime time news assignment—which would debut on July 17, 1990 as 'Real Life with Jane Pauley.' NBC announced that Norville would become co-host. In January 1990, the new anchor team of Bryant Gumbel and Deborah Norville, minus Pauley, debuted with disastrous results. Ratings for the program began to plummet. Critics felt that Gumbel and Norville lacked chemistry and many loyal viewers began turning to rival ABC's 'Good Morning America.' 
By June 1990, NBC announced that Joe Garagiola, former Major League Baseball player, game show host, Major League Baseball on NBC announcer, and 'Today' contributor from 1967–1973, would join Norville as a second co-host alongside Bryant Gumbel. Also, CBS newswoman Faith Daniels would become the program's news anchor—a position which was still unfilled since Norville became co-host. Finally, Katie Couric assumed the role of National Correspondent. Garagiola, Daniels and Couric were added to the show during the June 11, 1990 broadcast. 
Ratings continued to decline and by the end of 1990, 'Today,' the longtime dominant morning news/talk program, was in second place behind GMA. By the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991, Norville's role as co-host was gradually minimized. 'Today' aired special editions of the program called 'America at War,' with Gumbel anchoring most of the show alone. Norville left the show for maternity leave in February 1991. It was announced that Katie Couric would substitute as co-host during Norville's absence. Ratings for the program began to rise. By April 1991, it was announced that Norville would not return to 'Today' and that Couric had been named the program's co-host. Norville, it was disclosed, would continue to be paid in accordance with her contract, although she would no longer appear on any NBC News programs."(SOURCE
I’m not knocking NBC's decision. Ratings matter. And, in both the Norville and Curry situations, they did what they had to do to save the show. It is, however, comforting to see that NBC no longer uses maternity leave as an opening through which to pull someone’s job out from under them. Classy.

Quietly on Friday, NBC spoke:  
"With little fanfare, NBC appointed Savannah Guthrie on Friday as Matt Lauer’s co-host for the 'Today' show, one day after ousted Ann Curry’s tearful exit." (SOURCE
Here’s to Ms. Curry. But, this kind of crap happens. And sometimes, it simply happens to the best people.

UPDATE 07/01/2012 : Didn't realize Ms. Norville already had her say (on 06/28/12):
"Like Ann Curry, I too had a too-brief run on the 'Today' show. Seeing her under attack brought back uncomfortable, hurtful memories. Unlike Ann, I was given neither an opportunity to say farewell nor a different position at the network. I was pushed out while on maternity leave, having just given birth to my first child. It was personally devastating to, in less than two years, go from 'NBC's fastest-rising star' to a pariah in television. It was awful. But, just as an earthquake forces you to check the foundation of your home, having my career shatter forced me to re-evaluate everything. The depression I battled pushed me to investigate the power of the mind and led to my writing a number of books grounded in positive psychology, as I rebuilt my career first at ABC Radio, then CBS News and Inside Edition. I survived, even thrived, and so will Ann." (SOURCE
UPDATE 08/22/2014 : NBC has done it once more, this time to David Gregory, formerly of "Meet the Press." With previously botched-up and highly visible end-of-contract scandals in their recent past, you'd think NBC would have a bit more sensitivity in how they handled Mr. Gregory's termination. Horrible.

UPDATE 02/27/2016 : Jesus, NBC, it has happened again. No matter what was happening behind the scenes, it's media malpractice for them to have allowed Melissa Harris Perry to walk out the door. Her show was over and above - in quality and substance - the most riveting thing they had left on MSNBC. Good for her for knowing it. But squish squish for us.

Here's hoping Ms. Harris Perry gets snatched up by another outlet, and soon. Her #Nerdland should live on.

Speaking of MSNBC... the other day, Rachel Maddow accused someone else - I think it was New Jersey Governor Christie - of being "repetitious." It doesn't matter who it was. She was the one accusing him of repeating things over and over and over. See the ironic pot kettle thing going on there?

BBC News and France 24 - among other overseas outlets - are available online and included in most cable subscriptions. Watching some of those regularly is a good reminder of what quality television news can and should be. 

Peacock photo: Prague Zoo, 2004