Ashleigh Banfield politely claps back at Katie Couric for Couric’s memoir leak
As we discussed, Katie Couric’s memoir, Going There, will be released in late October. If the first excerpts/quotes can be believed, Couric is burning bridges and writing in-depth about how she fought to keep her position as queen of morning television, even if it meant being a deeply unpleasant woman-hater who refused to be sincere or kind to female colleagues. In one of the excerpts from the book, Couric described the moment when she viewed Ashleigh Banfield as a threat to her job. It was around 2000, and Ashleigh was then a young, telegenic, competent blonde reporter who was making waves around NBC News. Couric describes her feeling that she needed to “protect my turf” because “someone younger and cuter was always around the corner,” citing Banfield. Couric also writes: “For a minute there, Ashleigh Banfield 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 sometimes felt like self-sabotage.” Well, Banfield has her own show on one of the cable news channels, and she devoted a segment on her show to Couric’s book. Please enjoy:
Ashleigh Banfield is responding to a leaked section of Katie Couric’s upcoming memoir that detailed Couric’s thoughts on Banfield when they both worked at NBC. Banfield read out some of the portions of Going There that mentioned her, noting that she wanted to “correct the record” on one section where Couric referenced Banfield’s father.
“I want to correct the record here, because you went after my dad, that’s just not true,” Banfield said in response. “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. They got his landline and they called him and said ‘Are you afraid for your daughter?’ to which he said ‘Yes and I think NBC should bring her home and give her a desk job like Katie’s.’ 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 corrects the record on that.”
Banfield went on to praise the TV personality, saying “there is no one better who has ever been on morning television than Katie Couric.”
“I looked up to her for years and years and years — I still do, I still believe she is the best person to have ever graced the screen in that venue,” she said. “I have never been more affected by a television interview than when I saw her at Columbine interviewing a victim, and a father of a victim. I literally collapsed in my closet crying while that interview was playing, and yes, I had a television in my closet because it was a dressing room. I remember thinking I want to be just like her. 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.”
She also said that, in her view, “mentoring women in this business is one of the best investments.”
“In the early 90s, I remember thinking, ‘Why do women think there’s no room at the top?’ They all think it’s this apex that you’re just going to get boinked right off of if anybody dares to climb higher, but the truth is it is massive — there is a giant space, a big flat spot right at the top, where we can all lift each other up and help each other out. I have never, ever found that that policy of helping other women, younger than me, who might even be in my newsroom and maybe take my job, has ever come back to bite me — never once,” Banfield continued. “The opposite has happened. I am a better journalist today for all the young women who I worked with, who I gave advice to, it came back to me in spades and it will come back to you in spades as well.”
“I wish nothing but the best for Katie Couric, she remains my number one female television journalist of all time,” she concluded. “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.”
I really respect the way Banfield handled that. You know she could have easily gone to a sniping, angry place and I would have applauded her if she had gone there as well. There’s no professional protocol when you find out, years later, that a more senior woman was responsible for holding you back twenty years beforehand. How would you react? Anyway, I doubt any of this was news to Banfield – I suspect many women in and around NBC News in the Couric-Lauer years knew exactly what kind of toxic environment Lauer and Couric fostered. Glad Banfield made Couric sound like a nasty troll with the facts about her father.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, screencaps courtesy of NewsNation.
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