NBC News
June 28, 2012 03:10 PM

If you were worried for Ann Curry, it’s all over.

After showing up for work at Today in recent days only to see a path being cleared for her past the cameras and on to the morning-show guillotine, Curry announced on air Thursday that she would be leaving her NBC co-host job scarcely more than a year since taking over from sage, sunny Meredith Vieira.

No replacement has been announced, but in the media universe, where truth is believed to reside, the scuttlebutt was that Matt Lauer’s next co-host will be the crisp and companionable Savannah Guthrie, who helms Today‘s third hour.

RELATED: Ann Curry Announces She’s Leaving Today

The problem this or any Curry replacement is expected to fix would be the troubling recent lapses in Today‘s longtime dominance over ABC’s Good Morning America. Prior to April, Today had locked in on the No. 1 position since 1995. If you correlate that to American-history years, it’s roughly the time from the Missouri Compromise until now.

I’m not sure Curry should take the fall, but one can fault her for not projecting an energy level to match that of Lauer, Al Roker and company. She’s a soft-spoken, gentle presence in a super competitive environment. Everyone else tends to give off the crackle of breakfast cereal with the milk just added. This was true, as well, of predecessors Katie Couric (whom Natalie Morales, the show’s news anchor, resembles) and Vieira. The Today set requires a certain effervescence.

The feverish speculation about her exit – and the debate over her chemistry or lack thereof with Lauer – probably contributed to her surprisingly emotional speech announcing her departure.

Her voice constantly breaking, her body pinched, she even apologized as if she were a disgraced politician and not a TV news personality who’d been found wanting (she’ll stay on at NBC with, as she put it, “fancy new titles”). She accepted hugs from Roker and Morales and a kiss on the cheek from Lauer, who praised her for her “heart.”

“Heart” is not enough to keep you seated on the Today furniture next to Matt Lauer.

POLL: Who Should Succeed Ann Curry?

But it’s hard to see how Today could go wrong putting Savannah Guthrie in the co-host spot, as widely reported.

Although a relative newcomer, she’s also chief legal correspondent, and she has a very appealing on-air presence, professional but hinting at greater forces contained. She has a face dominated by a strong jaw and a wide mouth – something like a combination of Jodie Foster and Sarah Palin. She would seem formidable if she also didn’t come across as someone comfortable on a team. Now that’s something fresh and original there.

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