Ann Curry attends the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice...

Ann Curry attends the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2010 Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner in New York. Credit: AP

There's an old well-established rule in TV circles — anchors anchor. So where's "Today's" anchor, Ann Curry, in the midst of one of the network's most prestigious coverage events of the year — the Queen's Diamond Jubilee?

Curry has been MIA during coverage, and a spokeswoman said, "Ann had taken two vacation days Monday and Tuesday of this week (been planned for a while). She will be back tomorrow." (By the way, learned this afternoon that she took these days off to pick up her kid at school...) 

But here's the question: A vacation - or picking up her kid from school, and the difference by the way is immaterial -  during one of the most important broadcast events of the year? (A puckish observer of the broadcast scene just sent me this: "Imagine how that went down: Ann: “Boss, I’d like to take two days off during a major news event while we’re in a heated battle with GMA. Is that OK with you?” NBC: “Sure, Ann, no problem.”)

Of course, maybe there's nothing to this at all. Ann wanted some time off. She got it. After all, the Olympics are coming up. She works as hard as anybody. This business is a long distance run — not a sprint over a couple of days. And so on. She'll be back tomorrow. Fine.

But there is a little something ominous about this too. Why would NBC install Meredith Vieira next to Matt Lauer this morning (she was solo yesterday), reminding viewers of the really good old days, when "Today" was cooking/blowing away "GMA" each and every week? Why remind viewers just how good Vieira is in situations like this — better than Ann, easily.

Why take off days now — why not take off Thursday and Friday? These are all just "whys" and probably have perfectly reasonable answers.

Nevertheless, this looks tenuous for Curry who's riding the show at a time when it lost to "GMA" for the first time in 16 years.

Have viewers "rejected" Ann? That's hard to say. She's a liked and likable figure on the air; there's a certain gentleness and decency — all those nice, genuine qualities we've seen in Ann over the years. Viewers have long "accepted" her, but this may be an instance of them not "accepting" her in the role that she's now in. Anchors anchor — but they also bring a degree of authority and command.

Katie had that at "Today." Meredith had and obviously still does have that at "Today." Ann does not .?.?.

What's next here? Who knows because there is no easy solution, other than having Meredith return, on an interim basis, which seems unlikely. But NBC — by not having Ann work these two hugely important days — may have conveyed a message, and it may have been the same one Matt conveyed to Donny Deutsch last week — changes are a'coming.

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