She was the golden girl of TV whose questions burst the bubble of Sarah Palin, the highest-paid morning news anchor who switched to hard evening news, and the broadcaster who once noted that an interviewer needs to “know when you’re going to be loaded for bear” – get tough.
でも今, after excerpts from an autobiography were leaked to news outlets, Katie Couric has lifted a lid on the background politics, personalities and infighting that accompanied the former NBC Today Show and CBS evening news anchor’s rise to the top.
Couric takes aim at former colleagues, lovers, friends and professional frenemies in harsh terms, throwing off the sexist persona of the perky girl-next-door forced on her for decades.
Couric’s list of grievances is as long as it explicit. According to the New York Post, which obtained a copy of her tell-all memoir Going There, which is scheduled for release later this month. Little, Brown and Company, Couric’s publisher, told the outlet that the book is “heartfelt, hilarious and very honest”.
Across 500 ページ, Couric, 64, is reported to have a put-down for almost everyone, from Martha Stewart – “some healthy humbling (prison will do that …) to develop a sense of humor”; Prince Harry – cigarettes and alcohol seem to “ooze from every pore”; industry colleagues like Deborah Norville – “relentless perfection”. But she also reveals some of the appalling behavior of her peers, including the late CNN interviewer Larry King, WHO, she writes, made a “lunge” for her across a sofa.
She holds her most scathing criticism for the ABC Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer. Couric says that Sawyer was so desperate to beat her in the morning TV ratings wars that she declared: “That woman must be stopped.”
“I loved that I was getting under Diane’s skin," 彼女は書く. She says Sawyer was everything she wasn’t – tall, blonde, with a voice “full of money”. Among her most damaging criticisms was that Sawyer took advantage of a clearly troubled Whitney Houston in an interview in which the singer was put in the position of defending her use of crack cocaine.
“There was a very fine line between a revealing interview and the exploitation of troubled, often traumatized people in service of tawdry tidbits and sensational sound bites,” Couric writes.
In blunt language that might shock some readers, Couric jokingly wonders who Sawyer “had to blow” to score a big interview with a woman who’d given birth to twins at 57. She adds: “I’m pretty sure I speak for Diane when I say neither of us ever resorted to actual fellatio to land an interview. But we both engaged in the metaphoric kind – flattering gatekeepers, family members, and whoever else stood in the way of a big get.”
But in many ways Couric’s blistering book is summoning a world that has to a large extent ceased to exist: where top TV anchors were the “voice of God” to Americans stuck in front of their televisions and consuming news from a handful of networks. First cable TV and then the internet have long put paid to all of that, shifting the consumption of news firmly online and dealing a huge blow to nightly news broadcasts.
Robert Thompson, a director of the Bleier Center for テレビ and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, says he’s struck by how the names in the book seem so long-ago – from a time when network news anchors held greater sway over the culture.
“As vicious as it might be, it seems like it’s from a more innocent time. Hearing this nasty, behind-the-scenes kind of thing almost sounds quaint, and beckons back to a time when television journalism was a much different thing,” Thompson says.
While cautioning that reports of the book’s contents are by definition second-hand, Thompson points out that the stories Couric recounts are already in the universe of retrospective fiction – “a memoir after the made-for-TV version of it”.
一部の人に, the most revealing aspect of the leaks is a passage involving Ashleigh Banfield, a younger MSNBC correspondent whom Couric felt professionally threatened by. It reveals how the sexist attitudes of the television industry in which women were struggling to thrive could reward competition – not cooperation – between rising female stars.
“For a minute there, Ashleigh Banfield was the next big thing,” Couric wrote. “I’d heard her father was telling anyone who’d listen that she was going to replace me. In that environment mentorship sometimes feels like self sabotage.”
金曜日に, Banfield went on her show to set the record straight on whether Couric really did give her “the cold shoulder”. She later told the New York Post: “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.”
Norville also reacted to Couric’s description: “I’m really too stunned and, 率直に言って, hurt to comment," 彼女は言いました. Sawyer has yet to comment.
The passage, says Thompson, communicates “a sense of the pathological nature of TV news at the time, and maybe more so now that there’s only so much room at the top for women”. The same, 彼は言います, can be said for the anecdote about Diane Sawyer.
“Katie Couric, そうみたいです, is coming out about how it was and how it felt to be a woman in television news at the time. The situation that she found herself in was such that a lot of the insecurities and behaviors she engaged in are exactly what we might expect in such unequal situations.”
What should not be forgotten, he adds, is that she rose from the top-rated morning news show to sit in what had once been Walter Cronkite’s evening news seat.
“Even when she was at the top of her game, there was a sense that the ways she was being described and therefore judged in gender-specific terms typical of a sexist TV news industry. The perky, friendly image of a person you could talk to across the backyard fence is something she has long tried to dispel,” Thompson said.
Couric’s candid memoir might just nail that.