Sue Simmons “cried every day” when she realized that her time was up as a prime-time news anchor with NBC New York. The legendary TV journalist, who was recently released from her position heading the news cast with former co-anchor Chuck Scarborough, has shared her feelings about the separation for the first time.
She told Joy Behar on the host’s Current TV program, Say Anything, “It was just awful,” through pained laughter.
“At three decades — more than 30 years at that station — an then all of a sudden ‘goodbye Sue.’ What happened?,” Behar questioned about the decision.
“It wasn’t all of a sudden,” Simmons revealed. “I had an inkling, because there was a certain length of the contract. But somewhere along the line, there were mixed signals, and I didn’t think that it was going to end, and it did.”
Sue also told the View co-host, “I was ready to go. You get yourself geared up. Mama always said, ‘never stay too long at the party.’”
Behar did not accept Simmons’ relatively calm reaction to her fate, wondering whether agism played a role in the outcome. Her replacement, Shiba Russell, is 33 years younger than Sue, who is now 70. “I just wished her well and moved on,” Simmons said of the younger woman.
Chuck Scarborough still leads the newscast although he is only about a year and half younger than Simmons. Behar was puzzled. Was he was given preference because he is a man?
“That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have our jobs, just because we’re older,” Behar commiserated about being a woman advanced in age. “If I feel ‘the inkling,’ I won’t go, frankly. I’ll just sit in this chair.”
Simmons does not know exactly what precipitated her departure, but has at least one theory.
“I think it’s because they viewed him as being more engaged than I was,” she said of the higher executives’ preference for Scarborough. “He would do promos, and when things went wrong he would go talk to folks about it.” Simmons was emphatic that money was not an issue. Claims that she got paid $5 million a year were false, she said.
New York’s Daily News also relates that sources say Simmons’ erratic behavior made her undesirable on set. Despite being popular to viewers, her lack of preparation and tendency towards a casual delivery of reports did not sit well with WNBC leadership.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.