Journalist Ann Curry, who was reported to have a fraught relationship with Matt Lauer, has responded to the news of his firing and subsequent sexual misconduct allegations.
"The women’s movement got us into the workplace, but it didn’t make us safe once we got there," she told People in an interview. "And the battle lines are now clear. We need to move this revolution forward and make our workplaces safe. Corporate America is quite clearly failing to do so, and unless it does something to change that, we need to keep doing more ourselves."
Curry added that while she was still processing the news, she admires "the women who have been willing to speak up both anonymously and on the record. Those women need to keep their jobs, and all women need to be able to work, to be able to thrive, without fear. This kind of behaviour exists across industries, and it is so long overdue for it to stop. This is a moment when we all need to be a beacon of light for those women, for all women, and for ourselves."
In 2012, Curry shocked viewers by tearfully announcing that she would be leaving the Today Show, where she had been a co-host for just a year. For those behind the scenes, however, this move was a long time coming, reportedly due to the tense relationship between Curry and Lauer. Curry's tense relationship with Today, and even more so with Lauer, was meticulously documented in a profile by New York Magazine in 2013. But almost five years later, in light of recent allegations, it's worth revisiting, and ends up affirming the disadvantage women have in this industry, even against men who have been accused of something as serious as sexual misconduct.
Curry's departure was tearful, and many people latched onto the moment when she turned away from Lauer's attempts to comfort her.
After reading the New York Magazine profile, it's hard to blame her. She was reportedly ousted for reasons like poor public reception, but apparently internal inquiry done by a research company called SmithGeiger found that it was actually Lauer who viewers disliked when they hosted together, not Curry.
"He was looking aloof, a little bit holier-than-thou, and pompous," a former NBC executive told the outlet. Apparently, executives knew that Lauer wasn't trying hard enough to get along with Curry (the two apparently had no relationship off-air), and Curry's hard-news approach to reporting appeared to threaten his dominance. NBC, who was in a ratings battle against Good Morning America, valued Lauer's star power over Curry's, and therefore renegotiated his contract to a reported $25 million a year to keep him from leaving the network.
Then, Curry was reassigned. Her now-viral goodbye makes clear that it wasn't her choice.
"Everybody at NBC, everybody at the Today Show, everybody understood that Ann was kicked out of her position because Matt didn’t want her there," an NBC staffer told NYMag. "That’s why it was so personal between Ann and Matt."
Put bluntly, a qualified and respected woman's career suffered in order to boost a man's. Now that it's come to light that the man in question used his power inappropriately, we're left wondering how many more times this has to happen. How loud do we have to yell to stop women from suffering the consequences of men's actions? How many more have to come forward before things change? From Weinstein to Louis C.K. to Lauer, so many women were denied the chance at a career due to powerful men whose bad behaviour was supported or ignored by their industry. At this point, we don't just need an apology — we need a time machine.
Refinery29 has reached out to Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, and NBC for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.
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