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As a co-host of NBC’s Today the show from 1991 to 2006, Katie Couric was known for her relatability and mass appeal. But recently, Couric has been working with a therapist to give up the idea that she should be sympathetic. She even bought a T-shirt that says, “I’m not for everyone.”
In her new memories, Going there, Couric reflects on her development as a journalist and the successes and setbacks she experienced during her 40 years in a male-dominated media industry. She remembers a case, early in her career, where Ed Turner, CNN’s deputy commander, told her that her breast size had contributed to her success.
“I was a whole 26 years old and I was humiliated,” Couric says. With the support of her boss, Couric wrote a letter to Turner demanding an apology – which she later received.
But Couric also acknowledges times when she failed to speak out. She suspected that her long time Today co-host Matt Lauer had affairs with colleagues, but she says she did not know the extent of his behavior. NBC fired Lauer in 2017, citing “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
Looking back now, Couric says, “I do not know if I was naive or I just would not believe it, but I think it was clear to me after hearing information coming in, [Lauer] severely abused his power and deserved to be fired. “
Couric acknowledges that the revelations in her memoirs may contradict the “friendly” reputation she spent so many years cultivating – and she’s okay with that.
“My goal in life is no longer to please people,” she says. “I think if you’m sympathetic, sometimes you’re like a milquetoast. You do not necessarily stand for anything. You do not rub people the wrong way because you [don’t] have strong opinions, and honestly I think if you’re just sympathetic, you’re not very interesting. “
About her reaction to allegations about Matt Lauer
I was really surprised and I know people have a hard time understanding that. They think, “Oh yes, everything is obvious,” but that was really not the case. I had a really wonderful, close collaboration with Matt. I would say we were friends. But … after the show was over, we went our separate ways. We had very separate lives and I made a very conscious decision … that I did not want to socialize with Matt. I just thought it was not a good idea. Not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but I was just thinking, you know what? I want a professional relationship with him. …
Little, Brown and Co.
There was an incident … where there was one [memo] it was sent to the wrong person and it was creepy. It was like, “Come to my office, and I hope you have the skirt that went off so easily.” And I thought, “What the hell is going on?” And I remember saying to the person who unfortunately got the wrong message, “It’s disgusting.” … At the time, I thought, Oh, I’m so disappointed he’s cheating on his wife, and I think I know who it’s for, I’m not sure. And I just said, “That’s ugly.”
In retrospect, should I have approached him? Should I have approached the young woman the intended recipient for it [memo]? Maybe.
About why she texted Lauer when she heard the news
I was really confused. I had very little information at the time. I did not know what the violation had been. I did not know how serious it was. … It was so abrupt and so fast and intense. I wanted to make sure he was okay. And I think my human side would just reach out to him. I had just seen him a few weeks before, ironically. We might want to have dinner once a year or something. And I had actually had dinner with him, and I do not know, I was clearly not very attentive. I’m really proud of my emotional intelligence, but I did not have much EQ when it came to this.
About the lasting damage created by Lauer and NBC’s culture of abuse
I think people can present themselves and show a page that they would like to show at certain times, and I think that made me wonder why anyone would be so violent in the first place because some of the women I spoke to … [have] been really traumatized by this and the damage is permanent. And I think what I have always wondered about is the looseness of those kinds of encounters and the ruthlessness and the dehumanizing aspect of this. And I think that’s what really worried me.
About regretting his decision not to be on par with her first husband, Jay Monahan, about his terminal colon cancer diagnosis
I would not say [I sugarcoated] the situation, but I was trying to make it look like it was not as bad as it was and that we were going to fight this and we were going to find out. The doctors had to come up with good therapeutic solutions. And we can make it work, or we can beat it here. … I wish we had talked about what could happen if all that did not work. I think I was so determined to keep him in battle and feel hope and live a life that was as full and joyful as it could be in the time he had left that I was not completely honest about for him, and I regret it to this day. . …
I think maybe there were a lot of things that would not have been left unsaid. I think maybe he would have made another video [our daughters] Ellie and Carrie. … I think he could have written a letter to them.
About why she chose to undergo a colonoscopy on Today
I wanted to save some lives and I had the potential to do so. I wanted to explain to people, demystify and destigmatize a procedure that can actually save your life. Colon cancer has a more than 90 percent cure rate if detected early. … For people in the audience or in the audience, I would do for them what I could not do for Jay. I wanted to arm them with the information they needed and that was really my only goal. I did not think people wanted to see my colon, but I thought that if they saw me going through it, they would say, “Oh, that was not so bad. I want to call my doctor because I am 50 years old old and I need one. “
By being hired for the evening newscast on CBS in 2006 and being criticized for everything from her looks to the stories she covered
Even though they brought me there to really rethink the evening news, and to recreate it, and to get rid of God’s anachronistic voice, they wanted something else. So I went there and tried to do it, but I do not think America was ready. … And then I think internally that CBS was a very traditional network, and I think internally that there were forces that were not ready for what I had been hired for.
Sam Briger and Seth Kelley produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Meghan Sullivan adapted it to the web.
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