Before I “go there” about Ms. Couric, two notes.
First, yes, I have been quiet for many months and for a reason that I will eventually address.
Secondly, readers should know that Katie Couric and I were both at ABC News at the same time, but we never met. I saw her once in the newsroom. At the time, she worked in television; I worked in radio. But the key is this: We both worked for a time in the same news culture.
If you haven’t heard, Ms. Couric has a new book coming out this month titled: Going There. The New York Post obtained a copy and has been generating news stories off the book for at least a week. Apparently, instead of paying a therapist to sort out her angst, Ms. Couric decided to undertake a scorched-earth revenge at this stage of her life. Of course, one pays for therapy; Katie’s earning money to throw grenades.
When asked by the New York Post to comment on the book, her publisher Little, Brown and Company replied, “We’re excited for people to read Katie’s book, which is heartfelt, hilarious and very honest. Readers will get the complete story from Katie herself about her incredible life and career.”
To call Katie Couric one of the most fortunate women in the world is not an understatement. She had a meteoric rise in the news business. She was the talk of ABC News when I arrived. She was already marked as a star. Certainly her hard work and talent helped her climb to the Today hosting job. But make no mistake about it, part of that meteoric rise was looks and ratings. That’s how the news business operates on too many levels.
Katie had it all: petite physique, beaming smile, charm and intelligence. And, dare I write, she attracted the audiences the upper brass wanted–she was a ratings bonanza.
People think journalists worry about ratings. No, not really. The people furthest from the story in their shiny offices care about ratings, money and looks. Although, that attitude trickles down to a degree. I had a news director tell me point blank that I would never be an on-air television reporter. I had all the skills, he noted. But, it was my look. I wasn’t black enough; I wasn’t white enough, and therefore the audience would spend more time being confused about my appearance than listening to the news.
Another news director told me I was a “diamond in the rough” but he could polish me.
Yes, as with any industry, there were (are) some real jerks leading newsrooms.
But let me also write that I worked with, and learned from, some truly awesome people. Those people were the backbone of the news operation, really. They did the jobs they loved and were content to stay out of the madness created by the people who wanted to be stars as opposed to working journalists.
It’s a cut-throat business for sure. When I landed a television editor position at ABC in Washington, D.C., one woman marched up to me and point-blank asked: Who did you sleep with? That was always the assumption. And I watched lots of female desk assistants and reporter wannabees throw themselves at the power people hoping to get better positions; or, even to become the next Mrs. I-Am-Married-to-An-ABCNews-Correspondent.
But what really moved me to write this post was a quote in last week’s New York Post story headlined: Katie Knew.
And what Katie apparently “knew” was that her NBC News co-anchor, Matt Lauer, was essentially a sexual predator. And what did Katie do?
Here’s Katie Couric, mother of two daughters, a woman at the top of the news chain earning millions of dollars. She had the power to lead. She had the power to make change. The power, as journalist Ashleigh Banfield wrote, to mentor.
And what did Katie do?
And here is how Katie absolves herself of any responsibility to end predatory behavior in the NBC newsroom:
From the New York Post story about what Katie Couric knew about Matt Lauer’s behavior:
“The general rule at the time was, ‘It’s none of your business. A don’t-ask-don’t-tell culture where anything goes, and everything did.”https://nypost.com/2021/09/30/katie-couric-admits-she-heard-the-whispers-about-matt-lauer-and-the-bunker/
Ashleigh Banfield is far more forgiving than I am. She wrote of Ms. Couric:
“I wish nothing but the best for Katie Couric, she remains my number one female television journalist of all time. She’s a trailblazer, I think other people should look at her and the guts that it took to be spunky and awesome and natural and authentic and I wish her really well in life.”
It is in Luke, Chapter 12, verse 48 that we learn: Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. That applies to every human being.
Maybe Katie Couric should take the millions she is likely to earn from Going There and financially infuse these organizations.