Today co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Couric about Matt Lauer, who was abruptly fired in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Couric said that “it took me a long time to process what was going on” because “the side of Matt I knew was the side of Matt you all knew. He was kind and considerate, a good colleague.”
She said that in the aftermath she “did some of my own reporting. I talked to people. I tried to excavate what was going on. It was devastating but also disgusting. What I realized was there was a side of Matt I never knew, and 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.”
Lauer has denied wrongdoing, but said that he had a “consensual, yet inappropriate relationship” with a Today employee.
Couric said that “there was gossip here and there” about certain people during her tenure at Today.
“I think there was a permissive environment in the ’90s, and I think permissive environments often result in serious transgressions. I think back then you felt it was none of your business, and nobody ever came to me to talk to me about it. And I think our notion of what is a consensual relationship has changed dramatically, and you have to consider the power dynamics.”
In her book, Couric included text messages she had with Lauer, as she grappled with whether to continue their relationship after he was fired.
“We have no relationship,” Couric said. She said that she included the text messages because they were “very illustrative of how our relationship devolved and ultimately deteriorated. I thought that was a powerful way to really let the reader in to my thought process, and as I got more information, how it was harder and harder to reconcile these two sides.”
Later, in an interview with Al Roker and other hosts on 3rd Hour of Today, Couric talked about her tenure as anchor of CBS Evening News, which lasted from 2006 to 2011.
“I think it was a real culture clash,” Couric said. “I don’t think people internally really accepted me. I thought we were much further along when it came to sexism. Because I enjoyed such a great position at the Today show I thought America was ready for a female anchor of the evening news, and I think we were just not as far along as I naively thought.”
She added, “I am not sure if the country was ready for a female anchor. Maybe they just weren’t ready for me as a female anchor because of their perceptions of me. But I really went there to say, ‘A woman can do this job with confidence and competence.’ And that was what really motivated my decision.”
The book is set for release on Oct. 26.
Couric pushed back on the idea that her book was a take down of former colleagues, arguing that some of the pre-release excerpts have ignored the context of certain events. Still, she called it “a true account of my journey from my perspective.”
Guthrie asked Couric about one anecdote that got headlines last week. The Daily Mail reported that Couric revealed that in editing a Yahoo News interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016, she left out a portion where Ginsburg commented on NFL players who took a knee during the National Anthem. Couric wrote that she “wanted to protect” Ginsburg.
Ginsburg had said that they showed “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.”
“Ultimately I think I should have included it,” Couric said. But she said that she did include “the most pertinent and direct response” from Ginsburg to Colin Kaepernick. That was where the justice called the protesters “stupid” and “arrogant.”
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