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Katie Couric opens up about off-camera stories in new memoir, “Going There”: NPR


New memoirs from television journalist Katie Couric, Go, is a behind-the-scenes look at her personal life and professional conflicts over the years she has hosted the best morning news shows.

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP / Little, Brown and Company


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Evan Agostini / Invision / AP / Little, Brown and Company

Katie Couric opens up about off-camera stories in new memoir, “Going There”: NPR

New memoirs from television journalist Katie Couric, Go, is a behind-the-scenes look at her personal life and professional conflicts over the years she has hosted the best morning news shows.

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP / Little, Brown and Company

At the height of her journalistic career, Katie Couric’s success at Today the show was about balancing a girl next door sympathy with getting the story.

It was the heyday of morning news broadcasts, when ratings often trumped ethics.

In his new memories, Go, Couric talks about what the public couldn’t always see during the years she worked for ABC, CBS, NBC and Yahoo. She also details what was going on in her personal life at the time.

She recounts her grief when she lost her husband, Jay Monahan, and sister, Emily Couric, to cancer. And what it was like to see the allegations regarding his friend and former co-host, Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC for sexual misconduct.

Couric reflected on that time on television, during the 1990s and 2000s, in an interview with NPR Weekend edition.

Interview highlights

On the story of “catfight” used to describe the morning climate of television news

It was so – it was actually so crazy. That period of time was sort of – sensational stories seemed to dominate the headlines. It was up to the women who were on many prime-time shows to try and get those gains. And honestly, it was so intense and – especially in the morning when someone was in a hotel room and someone was calling and saying, “We’re here to pick you up. Today show said it was OK if you come to Hello america first.”

The catfight story really grew out of this level of competition. And so, I think it’s become a real trope to talk about women in this way.

Work with Matt Lauer

I think the culture back then was sort of “don’t ask, don’t say”. For example, you didn’t really want to get involved in people’s lives – which was considered their personal lives. You know, there were some extramarital affairs going on that were pretty much out in the open. There were relationships with the bosses and their subordinates that you heard about. You kind of never knew what was true and what was not. So I just focused on my job.

I think our understanding of what a consensual relationship is – I mean, I think that’s really the crux of the matter – has changed so dramatically. That if there is a power differential, the notion of something consensual does not necessarily hold.

On why she excluded some of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decisions answer to his interview question on Colin Kaepernick in 2016

I was asking him questions about Colin Kaepernick, and his answer surprised me. She said kneeling during the national anthem was stupid and disrespectful. And the people who do that – you know, they have the right to do it, but [she thought it was] stupid and arrogant. And later, I think, she said, it’s contempt for a government that has helped them lead better lives than where they came from.

Subsequently, her employees called and said that she had misunderstood the question, that she had misspoken. So, I was like, is that true? She sounded pretty adamant about it. Or are there aspects of the story that she didn’t understand? I admired him personally, but I also knew I had a professional obligation to share his point of view. And so, I thought, I’ll use where she directly answered it. And then this other part I did not use.

Journalists are, contrary to popular belief, we are humans too. And I really struggled with that decision, and I think I included it [in the book] because I think it deserves criticism. And I am delighted.

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