Katie Couric really has, to paraphrase the title of her blockbuster new memoir, gone there. But she’s burned so many bridges, it’s unclear if America’s onetime sweetheart will ever be able to come back.
“Nobody can understand why Katie did this,” a senior news producer who has worked with Couric, told The Post. “She’s ruining her legacy.”
Although “Going There” is not out until Oct. 26, this week The Post reported some of the shocking quotes — including about Couric’s longtime rival Diane Sawyer (“I loved that I was getting under Diane’s skin”), Martha Stewart (for whom prison was a “healthy humbling”) and her ex, former TV producer and current Red Sox chairman Tom Werner (a “textbook narcissist”).
She cruelly trashes fellow “Today” host Deborah Norville for having a “relentless perfectionism” that turned off morning viewers.
Norville told The Post: “I’m really too stunned and, frankly, hurt to comment.”
As for Prince Harry and Couric’s accusation that, at a polo match around 2012, “a strong aroma of alcohol and cigarettes seemed to ooze from [his] every pore” — a friend of Harry’s parroted Queen Elizabeth’s words after her grandson’s own sensational comments to Oprah Winfrey: “Recollections may vary.”
Couric admits she gave younger journalist Ashleigh Banfield the cold shoulder early on because helping her would have been “self sabotage” and that “I’d heard her father was telling anyone who’d listen that she was going to replace me.”
Banfield responded this week by saying that, in fact, her “senile” father was in a care home at the time and had simply told a Post reporter he hoped his daughter, then an Afghanistan correspondent for NBC, would be “given a desk job like Katie’s.”
Banfield told The 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.”
She now wonders if Couric undermined her career.
“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 … 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.”
According to a TV industry insider, the Banfield snubbing “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.”
It’s all not sitting well with others in the TV news industry.
“From the excerpts I’ve seen, she’s taking down women from Martha Stewart to Diane Sawyer and Deborah Norville. She’s … so rough on other women for being ambitious like she was, it’s unforgivable,” said the senior news producer. “She gives fresh meaning to that old saying: ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’”
If Couric was expecting the book to be met with rah-rah enthusiasm, she’s now had a rude awakening.
A former TV colleague of Couric’s told The Post: “I think she genuinely wants to settle scores, but she didn’t realize how bad this would be and how badly she would come across.”
Meanwhile, mud-slinging Couric was apparently no peach at work herself.
“She didn’t hide that things were all about ‘her’ versus a whole team. And of course other anchors feel the same way, but they hide it better. She didn’t always have a great filter for what she really thought,” a CBS source told The Post of Couric’s time hosting “CBS Evening News” from 2006 to 2011. “She devastated a correspondent in front of staffers by telling her that her makeup made her look like Raggedy Ann.”
Echoed a TV industry insider: “Katie is a lot of fun — funny, charismatic, cool … But she can also be a pretty frightening person. When you think of a mean girl, it’s her. She was not a girl’s girl, by any means. It seems she’s revealing that side of herself in the book, whether she intended to or not.”
In “Going There,” Couric sometimes paints herself as doing the right thing in contrast to others’ bad behavior.
She writes of her time as the global news anchor of Yahoo News, from 2014 to 2017, and how she had the idea to create a “powerful partnership” with Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz. She connected him with then-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who, Couric says, neglected to follow up.
“I’d later learn this was Marissa’s MO. Not returning emails … showing up for dinners with clients when they were already on dessert, leaving powerful people waiting for hours outside her office,” Couric writes.
But when Mayer went out of her way — “going to extraordinary lengths to arrange a phone call, factoring in the nine-hour time difference, then letting me know her meeting was running a few minutes long” — to invite Couric to the Met Gala, the anchor was unimpressed: “Yeesh,” she writes.
Over at NBC, where Couric hosted “Today” alongside Lauer for 15 years, a producer recalled that all this is “par for the course with her.” Indeed, there was a “sense of relief” when Couric left in 2006, as she was “self-absorbed and snippy toward the end.”
The NBC producer contrasted Couric and another former “Today” co-host.
“You would never see Meredith (Vieira) do anything like this,” the producer said. “[Couric] just wants to be relevant. She doesn’t have a platform, so this [book] is a cry for relevance.”
Couric reveals surprises about her personal life, including how, on her first date with husband John Molner, whom she wed in 2014, someone texted Molner’s girlfriend to say he was out with Couric.
There’s also the story about how, while dating Brooks Perlin, 17 years her junior, from 2006 to 2011, Couric once got so drunk doing at a disco near Grand Central Station that, she writes, “I collapsed like a sack of potatoes … Brooks somehow got me to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he told the staff I needed help … and privacy. I recall a stretcher, an IV, violent puking … ”
But friends are shocked to hear how Couric has written about her late husband Jay Monahan who tragically died of colon cancer in 1998 at just 42 years of age.
In one book chapter in the book, she details how Monahan — the father of her daughters Carrie, now 25, and Ellie, 30 — was a Civil War buff who collected Confederate artifacts and participated in reenactments up until just four months before his death, writing she treated his “passion for the Confederacy with amused tolerance, seeing it as a benign hobby” and threw him an Old South-themed 40th birthday party.
But with hindsight, she is embarrassed that an “incensed” Monahan delivered a nine-page speech to the United Daughters of the Confederacy after the group was denied a patent renewal for their Confederate-flag logo. He “vilified” Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’s comments against the logo as “venomous” and called the press that covered it “obsessed with appearing politically correct.”
“I can’t believe that Katie is so remarkably candid to the point of cringeworthy about her dead husband Jay,” said a friend who knew both of them. Meanwhile, some in her inner circle are not the biggest fans of Couric’s second husband. “People who have read the book are really questioning how she could be so overly deferential to her sycophantic husband John Molner,” the friend said.
Added a Hamptons pal: “I’m disappointed, but not surprised by this book. Molner has consistently misunderstood what matters most to Katie, which is building a business that also allows her to get back on TV. I’m going to say that he does enjoy the glory of being Mr. Katie Couric and he has managed to alienate so many people she dealt with.”
Couric has been working on the book for the last two years and those who know her revealed that she called around to get people from her past to recall memories and moments in her career.
One former colleague said: “A lot of people said they can’t believe nobody in her orbit told her this book is a bad idea, because this is her legacy.”
Now that she’s seeing the horrified reactions, Couric is scrambling to repair some of the damage done.
“She has been calling friends telling them she’s a good person and telling them that her publisher told her to add all the gossip in order to sell more books,” the former TV colleague said. “But she has more money than any of us could ever need. This isn’t about selling books.”
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