Why is Michael Strahan's departure from 'Live' so controversial?
Last Sunday, it was announced that Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan were winners of the Daytime Emmy Award for best entertainment talk show host. This comes on the heels of Strahan’s announcement that he would be leaving Live with Kelly and Michael to become a full-time anchor at Good Morning America. Since the announcement, the witty banter and on-air chemistry that led to a hefty increase in ratings has been replaced with tense jabs and not-so-sneaky disses.
Nearly four years ago, Strahan was selected to replace Regis Philbin as co-host on the successful ABC franchise. Having garnered popularity as Ripa’s sidekick on Live, Strahan reportedly parlayed his mainstream marketability into an 8-figure salary as a full-time anchor on GMA. For ABC network executives, it was imperative to keep news of Strahan’s move quiet and, as such, Kelly wasn’t notified until an hour before the press release was made public. Upset about the news of Strahan’s sudden exit, Ripa took several days off from Live.
Ripa, who reportedly garnered an increase to her current $20 million annual pay as a result of the scandal, still seems to be upset about the ordeal as is evidenced by continued on-air tension including Ripa’s recent digs at Strahan’s two failed marriages on last Friday’s show. Given the icy dynamic between the two, it has also been revealed that Strahan’s exit has been pushed up from September to May, allegedly to give more time to find his replacement.
Although I can definitely empathize that it must have been incredibly disorienting for Ripa and the producers at Live to be blindsided by a shift of this magnitude, given what we know, this frustration seems to be misdirected. ABC owns both Live and Good Morning America, and given the networks stipulation of confidentiality regarding his impending move, Strahan didn’t have the option of providing his co-host or producers any advanced notice. Although a conversation about respect in the workplace definitely needs to be had, I think it should be directed toward the head honchos at ABC not at Michael Strahan.
After four years of co-hosting Live, Strahan made a personal career decision to move on. In addition to a significant pay increase, Good Morning America will provide him with a larger audience and an opportunity to expand his resume. Seems like a reasonable decision to me. In today’s competitive market, the average American will change jobs 5-7 times in the span of a career. Just as employers have the option to eliminate jobs at-will, everyone has the autonomy to direct their careers as they see fit. So where’s the controversy?