"We cannot expect the American people to do the right thing if we reporters shy away from telling them the truth. And the truth is that Paris Hilton (and other fluff stories) are unimportant compared to other issues of today. We reporters need to maintain our focus."
-- Ann Curry, 2005
When the "news" twittered across the Internet, then spilled gallons of ink across newspages, that Ashland High School graduate Ann Curry was going to lose her job, it was difficult to escape the irony.
In a 2005 interview with the Mail Tribune's Sanne Specht for our annual Our Valley section, Curry spoke earnestly and honestly about her calling as a reporter. Curry was the news anchor for NBC's signature "Today" show at the time — before being "promoted" into the co-host spot little more than a year ago following the departure of Meredith Vieira, who had left ABC's "The View" to replace Katie Couric.
Vieira these days contributes to NBC news-magazine shows that no one watches, and continues as host of the syndicated version of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" ... which is a hit.
She reportedly has turned down an offer to return to "Today" and take back her old job from Curry. Which only goes to show that the network has learned nothing from the Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien disaster at "The Tonight Show."
Couric, meanwhile, has since come and gone as the CBS Nightly News anchor, and as for Paris Hilton ... who was Paris Hilton again?
And, as for Curry? Well, if the constant drumbeat of "information" is to be believed, the reporter who started her television career in 1978 with KTVL in Medford is in negotiations for what they like to say in the TV industry will be "her next role with the network."
That's putting it in better terms than what's been thrown against the Facebook wall, as those who follow the entertainment business for a living have fired shots — without a peep from NBC or from Curry, who professionally did her job this past week as the buzzards circled.
In either the most unfortunate or calculated pairing of the week, Curry was interviewing actor Steve Carrell about his apocalypse film, "Seeking A Friend For The End of The World," when a graphic beneath Curry hinted ("Here Today, Gone Tomorrow") at the backstage drama.
Entertainment Weekly filed "stories" as if all this was a foregone conclusion. Among its daily "coverage" of the turmoil was TV critic Ken Tucker's suggestions for improving "Today," starting with replacing Curry with the more fluff-friendly Savannah Guthrie who, "unlike Curry ... seems to more frequently get Al Roker's jokes and pop-culture references, and have a good time on the set."
The economy is treading water, Syria and the Sudan are destroying themselves from within and — THIS JUST IN! ... It's a presidential election year — but let's shower Al with canned TV guffaws, OK?
In truth, this has been coming for months. In March, the website Gawker headlined a story on the troubles at "Today" with this gem: "Ann Curry Will Be Fired As Co-Host of the 'Today Show' Because Everybody Hates Her."
And if you can't believe Gawker, or Entertainment Weekly, or TMZ or TVLine.com, then you learned nothing about spotting the truth from the original "Men in Black" movie.
Meanwhile, Ladies' Home Journal magazine released excerpts of a planned August cover story on Curry.
"You worry, am I not good enough?" Curry says. "Am I not what people need? Am I asking the right questions. When people say negative things or speculate, you can't help but feel hurt."
Curry said in the 2005 story with the Mail Tribune that editors and producers who dodge "the tough stuff" to offer "fluff" in pursuit of ratings are not serving the best interests of the American people.
And yet now, through little fault of her own, Curry's own professional journey has become the stuff of fluff.
Here is a reporter who won an Emmy Award for her live coverage of the 1987 Los Angeles earthquake, was on the ground in Kosovo at the heart of the refugee crisis, was one of the first to arrive in Sri Lanka after a devastating tsunami and was on scene at ground zero immediately after the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York.
On Friday, she introduced a musical performance by country superstar Kenny Chesney and shared banter with co-host Matt Lauer — with whom, the entertainment "journalists" say, she lacks the proper "chemistry" essential to keep viewers watching at 6 in the morning, five days a week.
"Today" has been losing ground to upstart "Good Morning America," and with every ratings point meaning potential millions in advertising dollars, something had to change. Since Lauer earns $25 million a year ... well, you do the math.
Not that Curry will be hurting financially, as she reportedly makes $10 million a year for introducing music acts and indulging in small-talk. Whatever her "next role at the network," she'll have time to recover.
EW's Tucker has a point, of course. "Today" never has been the home for news coverage (save for a breaking story such as 9/11) and the American people are just simple folk who like to wake up to some light stories, a little music and a funny weatherman.
But Curry shouldn't listen to those who say she should change her approach and devotion to the news. And she shouldn't listen to the multitudes of bloggers and bloviators who will "report" and "analyze" what her departure would mean.
This isn't the end of the world, and she needn't phone a friend. The voice she should heed is her own.
"It hurts me when I hear the argument that America doesn't care about some of the issues of the day," she told the Mail Tribune, "because that's not the world I believe in."
It was true in 2005; it's true in 2012. Sometimes when you "lose" something, you find something else.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin writes occasionally about television for Tempo. He can be reached at email@example.com