Ann Curry, in an interview on Wednesday with USA Today, confirmed the news everyone said was imminent: She's leaving the "Today" show.
In a 40-minute phone interview with a reporter from the newspaper, Curry said she expected Thursday to "be a bit of a tough day ... I'm going to have to tell our viewers. That's what makes me more emotional than anything. I don't want to leave them. I love them. And I will really miss them."
The move comes after days of non-stop speculation -- and acute embarrassment to NBC -- about Curry's future on the morning show, which has slipped in the ratings since she replaced Meredith Vieira a year ago.
In the interview, Curry rejected the notion that she was responsible for the ratings decline.
"I know I am not to blame for the ratings worries," she said. "And my bosses have said to me there are many factors involved. There is no doubt that the rating wars have become meaner and less focused on our responsibilities as journalists," though she says some at "Today" do "brilliant work."
It was the first time Curry has spoken publicly about her expected departure since news first leaked that NBC was removing her from the show. There has been a public outpouring of sympathy for the morning host, and even an online petition by her fans seeking to save her job.
Insiders told TheWrap that Curry has been negotiating her exit for the last several days.
In her new position at NBC, she will lead a seven-person unit with a mandate to cover major news stories, such as the uprising in Syria and "the plight of the poor in America," Curry told USA Today. As anchor-at-large and NBC News national/international correspondent, Curry will produce network specials and pieces for NBC News and fill in as anchor on the Nightly News and elsewhere.
Many media observers have said that Curry was ill-suited to the host position on "Today" and would be better out in the field as a reporter.
But Curry clearly was hoping to stay. "I have called the co-host job at the 'Today' show my dream job, and I would be lying if I said it was easy to leave that job," she said in the interview.
Curry took over Vieira's co-host position a year ago. Recently the "Today" show has seen its ABC competitor "Good Morning America" drawing a higher total viewership for a full week, the first time that has occurred in 16 years.
Savannah Guthrie, who co-hosts the third hour of "Today," is said to be the front-runner as Curry's replacement.
- Ann Curry