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Katie Couric opens up about Ruth Bader Ginsburg controversy, Matt Lauer

Katie Couric’s memoir hasn’t hit shelves yet, but it’s already drawing significant attention — and criticism

Television journalist Katie Couric in New York.
Television journalist Katie Couric attends the 60th annual Clio Awards at The Manhattan Center in New York. Couric’s memoir, “Going There,” hits shelves Oct. 26.
Associated Press

Katie Couric’s memoir “Going There” hasn’t hit shelves yet, but it’s already drawing significant attention — and criticism.

“I couldn’t imagine writing something that wasn’t honest and radically transparent,” Couric said during a Tuesday appearance on “Today,” according to Vanity Fair. “I didn’t want to do a victory lap or my greatest hits. ... I wanted to share the messy parts, what real life was like.”

Here are three parts of Couric’s memoir, which comes out Oct. 26, that have already generated some attention and backlash — including Couric’s editing of an interview with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her former friendship with Matt Lauer.


Katie Couric on Ruth Bader Ginsburg controversy

In her upcoming memoir, Couric writes that she “lost a lot of sleep” over a decision she made regarding a 2016 interview with Ginsburg, The Washington Post reported.

  • In that interview for Yahoo, Ginsburg was criticized for calling protests of football players who kneel during the national anthem “dumb and disrespectful,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • But Couric said she edited out other parts of that conversation in an effort to “protect” Ginsburg, including the justice’s statement that the NFL players’ protests showed “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life,” The Washington Post reported.
  • “Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from,” Ginsburg added, according to Couric. “As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly. And that’s why education is important.”

Couric said a representative for Ginsburg asked her to leave out the response. She then turned to New York Times columnist David Brooks and David Westin, former president of ABC News, for advice, according to the Los Angeles Times.

  • According to Couric, Brooks suggested she leave out the remarks because Ginsburg was “elderly and probably didn’t fully understand the question,” while Westin advised she include the comments, the Daily Mail reported.
  • Couric said she still grapples with the decision today, as it represented a failure to keep her personal feelings and politics “in check,” The Washington Post reported.

However, Ginsburg did draw backlash for the comments Couric did publish, and ultimately walked back her remarks, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Katie Couric on Matt Lauer relationship

In her new interview with “Today” — where Couric co-hosted for nine years alongside Lauer, who was fired in 2017 for sexual misconduct — Couric said she no longer has a relationship with Lauer, The Daily Beast reported.

  • “You know that was really, really hard. It took me a long time to process what was going on. The side of Matt I knew was the side of Matt you all knew,” she said, according to NBC News. “As I got more info and learned what was going on behind the scenes, it was really upsetting. I realized there was a side of Matt I never really knew.”
  • “I tried to understand why he behaved the way he did, and why he was so reckless, and callous, and honestly abusive to other women,” Couric continued, according to People.

Couric details her previous friendship with Lauer in her memoir, recalling how she texted him that she was “crushed” after he had been fired from NBC News.

Now, Couric says, she does not speak to Lauer and will likely never reconnect with him.

  • “I think he probably feels like I wasn’t there for him and I feel like what he did was unconscionable,” she previously told People. “So I think it was really hard for us to meet under those circumstances. ... But I hope that he’s reconciled his behavior. He seems like he’s very defiant about it. So I don’t know. I really don’t.”

Katie Couric on Ashleigh Banfield

In an excerpt from Couric’s memoir, the journalist writes how she felt she needed to “protect (her) turf” while on the “Today” show from 1991 through 2006, saying she was aware “someone younger and cuter was always around the corner,” according to People.

  • Couric specifically cites NBC correspondent Ashleigh Banfield, writing how she “heard her father was telling anyone who’d listen that she was going to replace me. In that environment, mentorship sometimes felt like self-sabotage.”

Banfield recently responded to the excerpt by saying she was “stunned” and “surprised” by what Couric wrote, People reported.

  • “I remember thinking I want to be just like her,” Banfield said, according to People. “There’s so much that I learned from Katie Couric, and I’ll be honest with you, it saddens me that we couldn’t collaborate, it saddens me that she didn’t want to mentor me. I wasn’t that much younger than Katie, quite frankly, I think we could have had a really good working relationship together, I wish I had that.”

During her Tuesday interview with “Today,” Couric expanded on this controversy.

  • “I think that when there are very few jobs for women, and men are making decisions not necessarily based on the right criteria, that sometimes you do get insecure, and sometimes you do get territorial. “I think it’s human nature,” according to Vanity Fair.
  • “I think I just wish that maybe I had extended myself more and shown people the ropes a little bit more,” she continued. “But I think when people are outwardly kind of vying for your job, it is hard to be generous.”