Katie Couric was America’s sweetheart for 15 years starring as the co-host of NBC’s Today show, so you know she has the dirt. In her memoir Going There, which arrived on stands October 26, Couric reveals what it was actually like behind the wholesome TV-family façade. Beyond her work, she details the trials and tribulations in her personal life, including her struggle with an eating disorder and postpartum depression, as well as her loved ones’ battles with cancer. But there are hilarious moments, too, as she recounts memories of romantic pursuits from the likes of Neil Simon, Larry King, and Michael Jackson. She also candidly shares stories about the celebrities and politicians she’s interviewed, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Here are ten brutally honest anecdotes from Going There, most of which would not be allowed on daytime television.
Louis C.K. scripted his inappropriate sexual behavior for Couric.
Two years before Louis C.K. was “nailed for jerking off in front of up-and-coming female comics,” he had pitched Couric a cameo on his FX show Louie. In the show, Couric would be reading the news on TV while he watches, then she’d stop abruptly to tell him, “So, just take off your pants and get started … Just watch my mouth and do your disgusting thing,” and he would proceed to unbutton his pants. “And … scene. I guess life does imitate art,” wrote Couric, who passed on the appearance.
Couric struggled to accept that Matt Lauer is a sexual predator.
Couric first learned of Matt Lauer’s impropriety from a producer on Today. The producer told Couric that Lauer messaged her, inviting her to his studio office “and asked her to wear that skirt that came off so easily (or something to that effect).” He had mistaken the producer for a production assistant, whom Couric and the producer realized was his “fling at the Olympics.” Ultimately, Lauer would be fired from NBC for allegedly sexually assaulting a colleague at the Sochi Olympics. “Wow, gross, he’s cheating on his wife,” was Couric’s initial reaction, rather than “that’s not okay, he’s taking advantage of a young woman on the show.” After Me Too, Couric experienced “cognitive dissonance” reconciling the friend version of Lauer she knew and his identity as a sexual predator. But months after Lauer was fired from Today, she passed by him on a summer day in the Hamptons: “I knew in that moment we’d never speak again.”
A network higher-up harassed Couric about her breast size.
While she was at CNN’s broadcast Take Two in 1983, the “number-two man” Ed Turner said Couric was successful because of her “determination, hard work, intelligence, and breast size.” In response she hand-delivered a (fuck you) memo: “If you were intending to be humorous, you failed … I request that you apologize to me and that you somehow indicate to the other who heard the remark that you have so apologized.”
She lived with an eating disorder for years until her childhood idol died.
“Starve, cheat, binge, purge — the cycle would take years to break,” said Couric, who struggled with bulimia for years. She had a wake-up call after her childhood idol Karen Carpenter’s heart gave out due to anorexia in 1983. The death of Carpenter “flipped a switch” for Couric, and the dangerous precedent helped her “escape the grip of an illness that, for far too long, had controlled [her] life.”
Couric thanks prison time for Martha Stewart’s sense of humor.
When Martha Stewart won a Matrix Award in 1996, Couric presented Stewart with her award. Couric also wrote a personalized poem poking fun at Stewart for being a “doyenne of domestic perfection,” which featured lines such as “Marzipan, tarte tatin, coq au vin too, / Bruschetta, pancetta’s not all you can do.” Couric says that in response to the poem “Martha, however, seemed a little miffed,” and “it took a few years and some prison time for Martha to develop a sense of humor.”
Some pretty famous men have tried to pursue Couric.
After a press conference for The Slugger’s Wife in 1985, Couric recalls how Neil Simon invited her back to his hotel. “He started kissing me and — well, that’s as far as it got,” she writes. He had a three-word explanation for her: “Blood pressure medication.” She also remembered Larry King also trying to put the moves on her, but after “the tongue … the hands,” she told him, “I’m really interested in meeting someone a little closer to my age,” a moment which Couric claims the two laughed about after the fact. Even Michael Jackson wanted to take Couric out to dinner, she writes, but since talking to him was like “talking to a wilting flower,” her answer was “easy as ABC: No thanks.”
Salacious tales were rampant in TV news pre-Me Too.
During Couric’s time at NBC, she recounts that “salacious tales about who was shagging whom were practically part of the news cycle.” They involved the men in positions of authority, “a high-ranking, married executive and junior publicist,” “a powerful producer and his assistant.” There was also “the Bunker,” the secret office of a male anchor she does not name. She says he “used it for one on ones and I don’t mean interviews.” A former NBC colleague also told Couric that “the head of HR was screwing a low-level producer.”
She attended a sleazy Jeffrey Epstein dinner party.
Couric attended a dinner party at Jeffery Epstein’s home, which was billed as an evening honoring Prince Andrew. Couric’s date at the time remarked, “That was pretty bizarre. Did you see how young the women were who took our coats?” Another less-than-memorable moment at the dinner was when Chelsea Handler had “momentary amnesia” and “asked Woody and Soon-Yi how they met.”
There were full-on covert ops to steal interviews.
Couric says GMA staff would pretend to be Today staff and call guests telling them that their interview at Today was canceled, or sometimes they’d send a car to pick up Today show guests and take them to their own studio. She also claimed if a guest was booked for both shows but had their GMA interview first, staff there would chat with the guest so they would be late for their rival’s program.
Couric had amusing brushes with presidents.
Seated next to Vladimir Putin at a dinner hosted by NBC, Couric says she asked Putin why he didn’t cut his seaside holiday short when a Russian submarine sank, killing 118 sailors in 2000. After adding that it would make him appear more compassionate, she says, “Putin just stared at me with those beady little eyes.” A few years before the 2008 presidential election, then–Illinois senator Barack Obama approached Couric and said he was a big fan. As he pulled away, she asked her cameraman, “Who was that again?”, with equal puzzlement the cameraman responded, “Don’t ask me.”
This post previously referred to a memo as an email. It has been updated.