This Former NBC Anchor Says Katie Couric "Derailed" Her Career
Katie Couric's new memoir reveals that she saw this rising star as a threat.
A new tell-all memoir from Katie Couric, whose storied career across several major news networks catapulted her to the top echelons of the media world, is reopening old wounds and it hasn't even come out yet. In excerpts of Going There that have been released ahead of the book's debut on Oct. 26, Couric seems to get bluntly honest about how she felt about the fellow women she worked with and her contemporaries, like her Good Morning America rival Diane Sawyer and her Today predecessor Deborah Norville.
According to one excerpt from the book shared by The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that she was never particularly warm to women in her business because she felt the need to "protect" her "turf." Instead, she often gave them the cold shoulder because she worried that "someone younger and cuter was always around the corner." She seemed to take aim in particular at one former up-and-comer at NBC News, who fired back in a series of interviews this week, saying she believes Couric may have "derailed" her career.
Read on to find out more about the feud between Couric and this news anchor that's 20 years in the making.
Ashleigh Banfield was at one time heralded as the "next big thing" and that seemed to threaten Katie Couric.
Ashleigh Banfield was a rising news anchor in the early 2000s, whose incisive reporting at MSNBC on September 11th and the conflict in Afghanistan garnered major praise. But Banfield's career took a series of unexpected turns, and she never quite achieved the heights of success she seemed destined for. Now, after seeing excerpts from Going There, Banfield thinks that may have been, in part, because of her Couric.
In an excerpt quoted by The Daily Mail, Couric writes that, Banfield, at one point, "was the next big thing. I'd heard her father was telling anyone who'd listen that she was going to replace me. In that environment, mentorship felt like self-sabotage."
Soon after getting her own show, Banfield says she was ousted and now wonders what part Couric played in that.
Banfield was on her way to the top at NBC News. After her 9/11 coverage, she was given her own MSNBC show, A Region in Conflict, in 2001, and then Ashleigh Banfield on Location.
Despite being lauded as successes for the network, Banfield said she suddenly fell out of favor with NBC leadership and was forced out over several months. She initially attributed the falling out to comments she made during a 2003 speech at Kansas State University that were critical of mainstream media's coverage of the Iraq War.
But after reading the excerpts from Couric's book, she recently told TMZ Live she now wonders if Couric's feelings had a hand in her severing with the network.
"She was so good at her job, and I looked up to her, so I didn't believe it was possible that anything could have been going on behind the scenes to derail me there," Banfield said on Oct. 1. "I heard a lot of rumors. I really wondered if this is it. It's really hard to process this, I'm not going to lie."
When asked directly if she thought Couric contributed to her being ousted, Banfield said, "I'll say this, I got a sense, yes. I was never sure. Let's not forget, I really didn't feel like I was a big deal."
Banfield took particular umbrage with the comments Couric made about her father.
Banfield, who now anchors her own self-titled show on News Nation, took several minutes out of her Sept. 30 broadcast to respond to Couric's words and address a specific claim Couric made about her father—that he repeatedly advocated for his daughter to replace Couric.
"That's just not true. When I was in Afghanistan there were a lot of reports about it being a very dangerous assignment. And a New York Post reporter got the home phone number of my father who was near 80 and extremely senile, and living in a care home," she said on Banfield.
The reporter asked Banfield's father if he was afraid for his daughter. "He said, 'Yes and I think NBC should bring her home and give her a desk job like Katie's,'" Banfield continued. "That is a far cry from being able to even leave that facility, let alone 'telling anyone who would listen.' So that hurt my feelings deeply and I hope Ms. Couric would correct the record on that."
But, she continued, "There is no one better who has ever been on morning television than Katie Couric," Banfield said. "I looked up to her for years and years and years, I still do."
Couric's memoir reportedly also has unkind words for Martha Stewart and others.
Banfield isn't the only person Couric is critical of in her memoir.
According to The Daily Mail, she criticized one-time Today host Deborah Norville for being too perfect for morning television, saying she had a "major relatability problem" for people who were getting ready while watching the show. Couric recalled that one coworker said that Norville made "people feel like they need to get dressed before they turn on the TV."
Of Martha Stewart, she wrote that prison helped to provide some "healthy humbling," according to the outlet.
Couric also recalled being at a 2010 dinner at Jeffrey Epstein's house that was attended by Prince Andrew, Woody Allen, and Charlie Rose, among others.
"I couldn't imagine what Epstein and Andrew were up to, apart from trying to cultivate friends in the media," she wrote, according to The Daily Mail. "Which, in retrospect, they must have figured they'd need when the pedophilia charges started rolling in."