Many executives at the network never grasped how profoundly hurt and humiliated [Ann] Curry remained — not just by her televised dismissal but by all the backstage machinations that led to that fateful morning. Curry felt that the boys’ club atmosphere behind the scenes at “Today” undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture. The growing indifference of Matt Lauer, her co-host, had hurt the most, but there was also just a general meanness on set. At one point, the executive producer, Jim Bell, commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes. Another time, according to a producer, Bell called staff members into his office to show a gaffe she made during a cross-talk with a local station. (Bell denies both incidents.)...Meanness. Women are very sensitive to meanness. It's a show for "created largely for women." But it's "managed mostly by men." As "Today" got into ratings trouble and some were blaming Lauer, "Bell had another culprit in mind: Ann Curry."
So insistent was Bell that Curry was the problem — that she was “out of position,” as he put it in an e-mail to his deputies — that he had been talking about it with friends for months. One morning-TV veteran suggested to him that firing Curry, who had been co-hosting for only about six months at that point, would be tantamount to “killing Bambi.” Undeterred, Bell hatched a careful three-part plan: 1.) persuade Lauer to extend his expiring contract; 2.) oust Curry; 3.) replace her with Savannah Guthrie. According to this source, Bell called his plan Operation Bambi.(If you're watching these season "Survivor," you, like me, may think: Phillip!)
Bell, a 6-foot-4 former Harvard lineman, was well liked by his staff. He was considered a straight shooter who would do anything for the sake of the show. (Bell denies using the term “Operation Bambi.”) The coinage, however, was indicative of a few larger truths about morning television. Though it is created largely for women, the business is, even now, managed mostly by men, including those who like to think in terms of war, sabotage and embarrassing James Bond-like names for things they do in the office.
Curry was sad after signing off, but also enraged. When critics blamed a lack of chemistry for her departure, she dismissed it to friends it as a euphemism for something else. “ ‘Chemistry,’ in television history, generally means the man does not want to work with the woman,” Curry was known to have remarked. “It’s an excuse generally used by men in positions of power to say, ‘The woman doesn’t work.’ ”