Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Nov. 30, 2021

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In memoir, Couric writes of feeling betrayed by Lauer

Former ‘Today’ host’s new book, ‘Going There,’ being released Tuesday

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 file photo, Television journalist Katie Couric attends the 60th annual Clio Awards at The Manhattan Center in New York. Couric has a new book "Going There" out on Oct. 26.
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 file photo, Television journalist Katie Couric attends the 60th annual Clio Awards at The Manhattan Center in New York. Couric has a new book "Going There" out on Oct. 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) Photo Gallery

NEW YORK — On a summer day in the Hamptons last year, Katie Couric and her husband, John Molner, went out for a walk and saw a familiar white Jeep drive by with Matt Lauer at the wheel.

No waves, no hellos. Couric writes in her new memoir, “Going There,” that she realized then that the television partners would never speak again.

Once the king and queen of morning television, Matt and Katie were regular “guests” in the homes of millions of Americans, delivering the news with friendly banter. Yet as the drive-by suggests, much can change in 20 years. Couric today is less visible after a series of jobs that didn’t quite work out, while Lauer was fired from the “Today” show in 2017 after stories about sexual misconduct emerged.

Couric’s book, which is out Tuesday, recounts in raw terms her difficulty processing what she learned about the man she worked beside on most weekday mornings from 1997 to 2006.

“I know Matt thinks I betrayed him, and that makes me sad,” Couric writes. “But he betrayed me, too, by how he behaved behind closed doors at the show we both cared about so much.”

Even to Couric, the news came as a shock. They didn’t socialize much outside the studio. One exception was a dinner two weeks before he was fired, where they kicked around ideas for a future project.

In the book, Couric prints text messages that chronicle the disintegration of their relationship, from when she reached out following his firing to his unsuccessful effort to connect at 4 a.m. one day that week. A turning point came when she heard about his alleged treatment of a young woman that she had brought to NBC. “It nauseated me,” she writes.

“So many of us were blindsided, never imagining that a dashing, witty, beloved TV star had such a dark side,” she writes. “I’ve come to realize that Matt could be an excellent professional partner, a good friend, and a predator.”

Lauer has said that he never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex.

As an author, Couric “goes there” with plenty of sharp stories about those she’s encountered along the way. There’s the CNN executive who commented on her breasts, awkward encounters as a young reporter with Larry King and Neil Simon and CBS News executives she feels wronged her.

One of her closest professional partners, former “Today” executive producer and current CNN chief Jeff Zucker, doesn’t escape unscathed. They worked together again on Couric’s short-lived daytime talk show from 2012 to 2014, where she suspected he was biding his time for something better. She writes that Zucker asked her for a recommendation for the CNN position, saying there would be a job for her there if he got it.

After CNN hired him, “I never did hear from him about that job,” she says.

Couric’s biggest professional move was leaving “Today” for CBS News in 2006, to take over as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” and report for “60 Minutes.” It proved disastrous.

“When someone said the stains on the carpet at NBC were coffee while the stains at CBS were blood, instead of chuckling, maybe I should have listened … I was so hell-bent on taking a stand for women, I didn’t consider the woman who would be at the center of the storm — me,” she writes.

While Couric has harsh words for others, she’s also unsparing in writing about her own mistakes, from an interview she’d like to have back with Elizabeth Edwards, the late wife of former Sen. John Edwards, to an unnecessary remodel of her CBS News office that earned her enemies. She’s received pre-publication publicity for writing about her regrets in withholding a potentially damaging quote given to her by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her reluctance, in a competitive business, to help other women.

“Mentorship sometimes felt like self-sabotage,” she writes.