If you have a problem with everyone you come across during your professional life, the problem is probably you.
While there are exceptions, I think we can all surmise Katie Couric isn’t one of them. Couric, the former “Today” host on NBC News, made history when she became the first woman to host a network nightly newscast solo on “CBS Evening News.” She then made history when she quit the job in 2011.
While she stayed at CBS a full five years, it probably felt like less time because no one was watching at the end. As The Atlantic noted at the time of her departure from the $15 million-a-year job, she exited with half the audience she had when she started out. That’s not exactly girl power in action.
Couric’s career never recovered, as stints with ABC News and Yahoo’s streaming video division didn’t pan out. The 64-year-old hasn’t had a serious job on the network airwaves since 2017. (A spot in the parade of “Jeopardy” guest hosts back in March hardly counts.)
So, traditional network avenues are closed off to her. There aren’t enough irrelevant former search engine giants with streaming video platforms willing to give her multimillion-dollar contracts, no matter how predictably liberal her politics are.
What to do? Write a scorched-earth tell-all, of course. She just shouldn’t expect to plug it on CBS.
According to New York Post Page Six writers Emily Smith and Sara Nathan, Couric has been banned from the network after excerpts from the memoir “Going There” surfaced in various publications. She had been booked on “CBS This Morning” with Gayle King, Smith and Nathan reported, but when CBS News honchos learned what was in the book, they decided against letting her take up national network airtime to promote it.
In the book, Couric claims former CBS News head Les Moonves wanted to shuffle her off to the network’s morning show as her evening news ratings bombed, but she refused.
“‘We’ve been thinking about you and what you’re good at. The evening news really doesn’t give you a place to showcase your talent.’ Oh, boy, here it comes … ‘Would you be interested in going to the morning show?’ he said. ‘You’re so great at it, and they could really use your help,’” Couric writes in “Going There,” due out Oct. 26.
Couric writes that she replied: “Absolutely not … I didn’t leave the morning show I helped make number one so I could go to the third-place morning show.”
“I had come here to accomplish something, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. I’d rather leave the network than retreat to the morning show, which at the time was a cheap imitation of the other two.”
Moonves was thoroughly disgraced during the #MeToo avalanche, but let it never be said he didn’t have a feel for what Couric’s core competencies were. Or rather, he had a decent inkling about what one of those core competencies wasn’t: Hosting the nightly news broadcast once helmed by Walter Cronkite.
And speaking of Moonves, Couric definitely went there in “Going There” regarding Mr. Moonves’ tendencies: “I always liked Les Moonves, even though he was a close-talker with bad breath,” she wrote.
She also described her arrival at the network: “At an affiliates’ meeting, Les would smugly disclose how he finally got me to say yes: ‘We drank many bottles of expensive wine on the sofa in my apartment … Don’t worry, my wife was in the next room.’ Hardee-har, Les.”
Normally, no one would have the slightest bit of doubt about this claim. However, given the amount of venom being spewed in Couric’s book — and the questionable veracity of some of it — even this accusation is dubious.
Take Couric’s writing on Ashleigh Banfield, a former NBC News correspondent. Couric wrote that she felt helping Banfield would be “self sabotage” and that “I’d heard her father was telling anyone who’d listen that she was going to replace me.”
The problem: According to Banfield, her “senile” father was in a care home at the time and had merely told the New York Post that he wanted his daughter to have a desk job instead of being a correspondent in Afghanistan.
“Her words have really hit me hard. She was my North Star. I always looked at her as one of the most brave presenters … at a time when we were all called bimbos. She was the best morning show host ever. I’m just gobsmacked,” Banfield told the Post, adding that she questioned whether Couric’s sabotage could have cost her a career at NBC.
“NBC left me brokenhearted. I was at the top of my game in 2002. But just as quickly as I rose, I was derailed and given no explanation. They took away my office, my desk, my phone, my computer,” Banfield said. “They never told me why. It was the most painful mystery. When I heard about Katie’s comments I wondered if that was the reason.”
An insider told the Post in another piece that Couric’s behavior in regards to Banfield “certainly wasn’t an isolated incident. [Couric] definitely contributed to the toxicity [at NBC]. Katie was part of a culture that wasn’t supportive of women, and she contributed to it.”
And keep in mind, Banfield was arguably the least recognizable name to get some napalm on her blouse in Couric’s scorched-earth memoir.
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart needed “some healthy humbling (prison will do that … ) to develop a sense of humor,” according to the U.K. Daily Mail. (Failing at CBS News, ABC News and even Yahoo apparently doesn’t do that.)
Deborah Norville, the “Today” host Couric replaced, alienated people with her “relentless perfection.”
Couric’s ex-beau, Tom Werner, was a “textbook narcissist” (Couric is apparently unfamiliar with the psychological concept of projection) who dumped her via email after having “love bombed” her with gifts.
Diane Sawyer, former “Good Morning America” anchor, was another target, with Couric writing that she jokingly wondered if Sawyer traded a sexual favor for one big interview, according to the Post.
“I’m pretty sure I speak for Diane when I say neither of us ever resorted to actual fellatio to land an interview,” she wrote, “but we both engaged in the metaphoric kind — flattering gatekeepers, family members, and whoever else stood in the way of a big get.”
Charming. A paragon of virtue, this Katie Couric is.
CNN legend Larry King, now deceased, was a sleazeball who made a “lunge” at her, tongue and all, after a dinner. Couric wrote. “When I like, I really like,” Couric claims he told her.
When she met Prince Harry during his “wild-oats sowing phase,” Couric wrote, the smell of alcohol and cigarettes would “ooze from every pore” in his body.
Of course, those who aren’t smeared in the book reflect just as badly on Couric as those who are.
Here’s Couric on Matt Lauer, Couric’s longtime co-host at “Today,” who departed NBC after a spate of sexual harassment and abuse allegations, including one rape accusation: “I knew Matt loved beautiful women . . . he could charm the pants (as it were) off any celebrity,” Couric wrote. However, according to the Post, she merely “knew he was a player.” (Right.)
The dinner she had dinner at Jeffrey Epstein’s place: “Let me explain,” she wrote, before saying it was merely a weird scene. “‘Eyes Wide Shut’ with a twist — creepy chandeliers and body-part art,” Couric wrote of Epstein’s house.
If this doesn’t come across well to the lay reader, imagine how it must sound to those in the TV biz.
“[Couric will] never get a job at any television network or cable channel ever again because she attacks everyone,” one critic told the U.K. Daily Mail. “She’ll be stuck with her newsletter and Instagram Stories for the rest of her working life even though the book oozes of her desperation to be back on network television hosting her own show.”
Another told the Daily Mail that the book “should be called Burning Bridges by Catty Couric.”
No wonder she’s banned from the network she used to be the news anchor for. Couric’s book release has already been a slow-motion train-wreck, and but this is bad even for her.
She can tell all, but she’s not going to be able to do it on CBS because she’s burned too many bridges. I’m assuming other networks might follow suit — not because of the bridges burned, but the fact there’s no worse of a bore than the Norma Desmond of the ossified network news grift telling us that she’s ready for her closeup, Mrs. Maddow.