Back in 2016, it was quite the scandal when Michael Strahan abruptly left Live With Kelly And Michael to be an anchor on Good Morning America instead. At the time, his co-host Kelly Ripa claimed to be “blindsided” by his decision. She told People at the time:
“Sometimes when you are so comfortable with somebody, you may not give them the same consideration as somebody you’re not as comfortable with — a certain formality falls away.”
However, Strahan took the time in a new interview in the New York Times to set the record straight.
“I didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want a job at GMA.’ I was asked to do it by the people who run the network. It was really not a choice. It was a request.”
While they had excellent onscreen chemistry, Strahan revealed that things were often strained with Ripa.
“One thing I tried to do is have a meeting every few weeks with her. We met a few times, and that was fine. But then eventually she said she didn’t need to meet…can’t force somebody to do something they don’t want to do.
“Certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up.”
Eventually Strahan realized that he wanted to expand his horizons beyond Live With Michael And Kelly. However, he claims that he “remained the same person” he was “from day one,” and “when it was time to go, it was time to go.”
Strahan admitted that they way that his exit was framed in the media — like he was a fame hungry opportunist — was particularly hurtful.
“It was treated as if I was the guy who walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving.’ That part was totally misconstrued, mishandled in every way.
People who should have handled it better have all apologized, but a lot of the damage had already been done. For me, it was like: Move on. Success is the best thing. Just keep on moving.”
Strahan also decided to take the gig at GMA because it was a chance for him to take the lead.
“[On] television, I’ve had jobs where I got there and felt like: ‘Wow, I didn’t know I was supposed to be a sidekick. I thought I was coming here to be a partner.'”
All that being said, Strahan claims that he bears Ripa no ill will and praised her capability.
“If people think, ‘Oh, he hates [Kelly]’ — I don’t hate her. I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.”
It sounds like the decision to leave was the right call for Strahan and Ripa alike. Sometimes it’s just best to move on.