Michael Strahan Breaks Silence on 'Mishandled' Live Departure, Rift With Kelly Ripa: 'I Didn't Know I Was Supposed to Be a Sidekick'

Live with Kelly and Michael

Four years after tendering his resignation as Kelly Ripa’s Live co-host, Michael Strahan is setting the record straight about the circumstances surrounding his stormy departure and his rumored rift with Ripa.

In a wide-ranging New York Times Magazine profile, Strahan intimated that he was not treated as Ripa’s equal during his four-year stint on the ABC talker. “I didn’t know I was supposed to be a sidekick,” he said, without naming Ripa directly. “I thought I was [going there] to be a partner.”

Strahan maintained that he “remained the same person I was from Day 1” of Live. “[But] when it was time to go, it was time to go. Certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up.

“One thing I tried to do is have a meeting every few weeks with her,” he added of his and Ripa’s working relationship. “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.”

Ripa reportedly learned that Strahan was leaving Live! for a full-time gig at Good Morning America just one hour before the news was announced publicly. In response to the sleight, she took several days off from Live to “process” the development. Upon her return one week later, she addressed the controversy on-air, saying the dustup “started a much larger conversation about communication and consideration and most importantly respect in the workplace.”

Looking back, Strahan admitted to the Times that his exit “could have been handled better.” For starters, “I didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want a job at GMA, he clarified. “I was asked to do it by the people who run the network. It was really not a choice. It was a request. But 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 insisted that he harbors no ill will toward Ripa. “If people think, ‘Oh, he hates her’ — I don’t hate her,” he said. “I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.”

Asked what he specifically learned from Ripa during his time on the show, Strahan responded, “Oh, I’m sure the same things she learned from Regis Philbin. If you look at the show, it really hasn’t changed since Regis started the damn thing. He created this formula. It’s kind of a plug-and-play. You learn how to craft a story. ‘What did you do last night?’ ‘Oh, I had a glass of water.’ But you learn to tell the story to make it seem like the most interesting glass of water. Those are things that I learned from her. She’s brilliant in that way.”