Katie Couric is trying to talk past her program being stuck in third place (see Monday's chat with Peter Johnson in USA Today), but she really let the fangs show a bit in her interview for the November issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. When asked about published rumors of feuding with Matt Lauer and "high-handed" diva treatment of her staff, Couric grew angry, and sounded a lot like Hillary Clinton:
"I think there are a lot of angry, frustrated people, and I think that sometimes they happen to be writers," she says. "Our society still has a difficult time accepting strong powerful women and not typecasting them as evil, power-hungry lunatics." So, she has decided, "I’m going to be on a blackout for the first few months." Bad press, she says, "can suck your spirit dry."
Notice that other than Couric protesting "I love Matt," she doesn't say the reports of diva behavior are untrue. Isn't it weird for media people to decry other media people as spirit-sucking sores of negativity? How does Couric think Rush Limbaugh feels thanks to her applying bad press to him, and calling him "heartless"? There's more talk of the demands of feminism:
"It’s a little daunting to be somehow the personification of one giant leap for womankind." Couric said being a woman means "there are things I care about that maybe Charlie Gibson isn’t that interested in, like hormone replacement therapy."
In the pursuit of ratings, is there a network anchor that hasn't done a series of in-depth reports on hormone replacement therapy? This is a sexist and demeaning remark. It's like Gibson doing an interview with Men's Health magazine and saying that naturally he's better and cares more than Couric about covering prostate cancer.
Couric also discussed how her newscast wouldn't so stuffy, and well, objective:
"This is not your grandfather’s newscast...I think people are ready for an anchor who’s multidimensional, who’s not so detached...I hope I do this job with humanity and heart. And intelligence."
"Humanity and heart" sound a lot like "covering things from the correct point of view, not balancing out the humane with the people who are heartless." In a separate box in the middle of the Couric pages, Good Housekeeping asked "some notable women" about how Couric should pursue her new job. Madeleine Albright said "persevere" in pressing your strongest beliefs:
"You will find your strongest beliefs ridiculed and challenged; principles that you cherish may be derisively dismissed by those claiming to be more practical or realistic than you. But no matter how weary you may become in persuading others to see the value in what you value, have courage still – and persevere."
Condoleezza Rice sounded the opposite note, cautioning Katie to question herself when she feels the most assured of how she is right and her critics are dead wrong:
"There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately. But at those times when you’re absoultely sure that you are right, go find somebody who disagrees. Don’t allow yourself the easy course of the constant ‘amen’ to everything that you say."
The magazine also asked for advice from ultraliberal Hillary pal Marian Wright Edelman, Oprah Winfrey, her poet pal Maya Angelou, the CEO of Avon, an executive at Disney/ABC, and actress Meryl Streep, who seemed to think Katie had all the answers to life locked in her heart:
"Take your heart to work, and ask the most and best of everybody else too. Don’t hlet your special character and values – the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – get swallowed up by...complacency."
The weirdest moment in the article came when Katie discussed her daughter Ellie:
"She has ‘a really good head on her shoulders. Now watch her get busted for drug smuggling!' Couric can’t resist a comic moment, leaning into the tape recorder and urging her older child to wait at least a year before messing up: 'Come, on Ellie, work with me here,' she says."
Despite the love being offered to Couric by the article's author, Jenny Allen -- who began with smoochy prose about how 'Even without makeup, she looks radiant and rested, her caramel-toned skin glowing' -- she professed a lot of doubt about her show succeeding.
-- "I may lay a big fat egg. " She shrugs and gives a little laugh. I just hope this is fun. I said to the people at CBS, ‘this better be fun.’"
-- "I’m just going to have to feel it out. Some things are going to work and some things aren’t...I believe in noble failure."
-- In ten years, "I hope I’ll be sitting on the beach writing a book," she says.