Savannah Guthrie’s rise to the “Today Show” couch aside Matt Lauer begs a couple of questions: What does she have the Ann Curry doesn’t. And will it make a difference? You may not like the answers.
In what increasingly looks like a panicked move by NBC, Curry was fired after only a year as co-host of the show, even though she’s a familiar and well-known presence. She’s worked as the news reader for 13 years.
In her place, the network appears to have replaced her with Guthrie, who only joined the network in 2008 as White House correspondent. She’s been fast tracked ever since.
She was named a co-anchor of MSNBC in 2010 and a year later was named the co-host of Today’s third hour alongside Natalie Morales and Al Roker.
Curry paid her dues as a female journalist, starting out at the bottom and spending long years in local television after attending the University of Oregon.
She started as an intern at KTVL in Medford, Ore., and become the station’s first female news reporter. In 1980, she moved to NBC-affiliate KGW in Portland, where she became an anchor. Four years later she jumped to Los Angeles where she won two Emmy awards. She was picked up by NBC in 1990 to work as a correspondent in Chicago.
She became a go-to newswoman at the network, substituting on three of its four national news broadcasts, including the “Today Show.” She subbed for Lauer when he was a news reader and was hired full time for the job in 1997. She replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host of Today last June.
Natalie Morales, who was rumored to have had an affair with Lauer, replaced Curry as news reader, and also wanted her job.
In comparison, Guthrie breezed into a coveted network job in 2007 when NBC hired her as a legal correspondent. She’d previously worked short stints at NBC affiliates WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., KVOA-TV in Tucson, Ariz., and KMIZ-TV in Columbia, Miss, before joining Court TV.
She has more impressive academic credentials; she holds a law degree from Georgetown University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She jumped to NBC as a legal correspondent in 2007. But rest assured, that’s not why she got the job.
The sad fact is she’s 15 years younger than Curry, who is 55. Guthrie is also sexier, bubbly, flirtatious, some may call it charisma, and better looking.
Guthrie also has Katie Couric’s infectious sense of humor and won’t hesitate to flatter Lauer and shower him with deference, something Curry rarely did. Ann, in contrast, was more like your mother’s best friend, or the sorority sister you could always count on for good advice.
She brought Katie’s comfort level to the show and conveyed a level of trust that Guthrie will be hard pressed to match.
In short, the network went with flash instead of experience; youth instead of wisdom. Guthrie is intelligent and articulate. But you can bet that’s not why she got the job. It remains to be seen whether the “Today Show’s” demographically older audience warms up to her.