As co-host of NBC Today show from 1991 to 2006, Katie Couric was known for her relativity and mass appeal. But recently, Couric worked with a therapist to let go of the idea that she had to be sympathetic. She even bought a T-shirt that says “I’m not for everyone”.
In his new memories, Go, 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 recalls a case early in her career where CNN second-in-command Ed Turner told her that the size of his breasts had contributed to his success.
“I was 26 and I was humiliated,” Couric says. With the support of her boss, Couric wrote a letter to Turner, demanding an apology – which she then received.
But Couric also recognizes the times when she failed to speak up. She suspected that her long date Today Co-host Matt Lauer was having affairs with coworkers, but she says she didn’t know the extent of his behavior. NBC fired Lauer in 2017, citing “inappropriate sexual behavior”.
Looking back now, Couric said, “I don’t know if I was naive or just didn’t want to believe it, but I think it was obvious to me after hearing information coming in.” [Lauer] mightily abused his power and deserved to be fired. ”
Couric acknowledges that the revelations in her memoir might contradict the “likable” reputation she has spent so many years cultivating – and she agrees with that.
“My goal in life is no longer to please people,” she says. “I think if you’re nice you are like a milquetoast sometimes. You don’t necessarily stand up for anything. You don’t rub people the wrong way because you [don’t] have strong opinions, and honestly I think if you’re just nice you’re not very interesting. ”
On his reaction to the allegations about Matt Lauer
I was really surprised, and I know people find it hard to understand this. They think, “Oh yeah, it’s all in the open”, but it really wasn’t like that. I have had a really wonderful and close working relationship 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 didn’t want to socialize with Matt. I just thought it wasn’t a good idea. Not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but I just thought, you know what? I want to have a professional relationship with him. …
There was an incident … where there was a [memo] that was sent to the wrong person, and it was scary. It was like, “Come into my office and I hope you are wearing this skirt that came off so easily.” And I was like, “What’s going on?” And I remember saying to the person who unfortunately got this wrong message, “This is disgusting.” … At the time I thought, Oh, I’m so disappointed that he’s cheating on his wife and I think I know who it was for, I’m not sure. And I just said, “It’s disgusting.”
Now, looking back, should I have approached her? Should I have approached the young woman, the intended recipient of this [memo]? May be.
Why she texted Lauer upon hearing the news
I was really confused. I had very little information at the time. I didn’t know what the transgression had been. I didn’t know how bad 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 just wanted to reach out to him. I had just seen him a few weeks ago, ironically. We had dinner maybe once a year or something. And I actually had dinner with him, and I don’t know, I clearly wasn’t very perceptive. I’m very proud of my emotional intelligence, but I didn’t have a lot of equalizer about it.
On the lasting damage Lauer created and NBC’s culture of abuse
I think people can come forward and show a side that they want to show at times, and I think what that made me wonder, is why someone would, first of all, be if violent, because some of the women I spoke with … [have] been really traumatized by this and the damage is lasting. And I think what I’ve always wondered about is the insensitivity of these kinds of encounters and the recklessness and dehumanizing aspect of it. And I think that’s what really troubled me.
Regretting her decision not to align with her first husband Jay Monahan over his diagnosis of end-stage colon cancer
I will not tell [I sugarcoated] the situation, but I tried to make it seem like it wasn’t as bad as it was and that we were going to fight and find a solution. Doctors were going to come up with excellent therapeutic solutions. And we can make it work and, or we can, we can beat it. … I wish we had talked about what could happen if all of this didn’t work out. I think I was so determined to keep him fighting and having hope and living a life as full and joyful as he could be in the time he had left than I was. not completely honest with him, and I regret it to this day. …
I think there may have been a lot of things that would not have been left out. I think he might have made a video for [our daughters] Ellie and Carrie. … I think he may have written them a letter.
Why she chose to have a colonoscopy on Today
I wanted to save 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 cure rate of over 90% if caught early. … For the spectators or the audience, I wanted to do for them what I couldn’t do for Jay. I wanted to give them the information they needed, and that was really my only goal. I didn’t think people wanted to see my colon, but I thought if they saw me go through it, they would say, “Oh, that wasn’t that bad. I am going to call my doctor because I am 50 years old and I need to have one. ”
After being hired on the CBS nightly news in 2006, and being criticized for everything from her appearance to the stories she covered
Even though they brought me there to really rethink the evening news, to rearrange it, and to get rid of some kind of anachronistic voice of God, they wanted something different. So I went over there and tried to do it, but I don’t think America was ready. … And then, I think internally, CBS was a very traditional network, and I think internally there were forces that weren’t ready for what I was hired to do.
Sam Briger and Seth Kelley produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Meghan Sullivan adapted it for the web.