It's been 10 months since Ann Curry bid a very tearful goodbye to the TODAY show, but new details about her departure continue to emerge. The latest revelations come courtesy of media reporter Brian Stelter, whose book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV was excerpted Thursday in the New York Times Magazine. According to Stelter, Curry was devastated over her June 2012 sign-off, almost to the point of literal mourning.
"She was overwhelmed by condolences," Stelter writes of how her fans reacted to her dismissal, adding that she likened the experience to attending her own memorial service. "It feels like I died," she reportedly told colleagues afterward, "and I've seen my own wake."
Publicly, Curry's exit was blamed on a lack of chemistry with co-anchor Matt Lauer -- a claim she apparently rebuked in private to friends "as a euphemism for something else." That "something else," Stelter says, was sexism. Per his book, the veteran journalist believed her firing was the result of a gender-specific power play.
"'Chemistry,' in television history, generally means the man does not want to work with the woman," he quotes her as saying. "It's an excuse generally used by men in positions of power to say, 'The woman doesn't work.'"
Stelter's revealing tome also sheds light on the embattled months leading up to Curry's send-off. "A lot of time in the control room was spent making fun of Ann's outfit choices or just generally messing with her," one staffer told him, citing an incident in which employees compared a yellow-dress-wearing Curry to Sesame Street's Big Bird.
Nearly a year later, Stelter writes, the 56-year-old former co-anchor is still "profoundly hurt and humiliated" by the teasing and subsequent dismissal. "She told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture," he says.