Ashleigh Banfield politely claps back at Katie Couric for Couric’s memoir leak

ashleigh banfield2

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.”

[From People]

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.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, screencaps courtesy of NewsNation.

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43 Responses to “Ashleigh Banfield politely claps back at Katie Couric for Couric’s memoir leak”

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  1. Betsy says:

    That’s a beautiful way to burn someone and still maintain your honor as a human.

  2. janey janey says:

    Now, this is how you do it. GIVE THIS WOMAN ALL OF THE JOBS.

    Seriously, CNBC…looking for talent?

  3. Wiglet Watcher says:

    I’m going neutral on this. AB could be playing up a quote/context to her favor and color it all as defending her father. I didn’t read KCs response as a negative. Just a proud father meaning no harm.

    I also believe no person rises to the top of their sought after positions by being kind. It just doesn’t happen when there’s one seat that people are aggressively trying to prove they can fill.

    • FHMom says:

      I agree with everything you wrote. That morning show spot was very coveted. It’s a highly competitive job, and nobody succeeds without being ruthless. I am old enough to remember the Deborah Norville / Jane Pauley fiasco on Today. Norville was a cute, perky blonde who pushed out Jane Pauley. Or at least that is how it appeared. Couric replaced her. She was a breathe of fresh air after the beauty queen. I don’t begrudge her wanting to hold onto her job.

    • Kate says:

      Yeah same. Unless Banfield’s dad was like an industry executive telling people this, I didn’t understand the significance of his opinion on Katie. Wouldn’t most proud dads be telling anyone who would listen that their daughter is going to be the next top tier person in their field? Wasn’t really a necessary detail for Couric to include and wasn’t really necessary for Banfield to defend and this is all probably just stirring up fake sh*t to keep their names in the headlines to sell books/get viewers.

      • Lyds says:

        I agree @Kate that it was not necessary to include it in the way that Couric did (which eliminated some facts), but I disagree with you saying that Banfield didn’t need to defend herself because she clarified so many things. As someone who lacked all background in/context to the situation, my first read of the excerpt was that Banfield’s dad WAS some hotshot executive who was actively trying to get Couric replaced. But what Banfield said about her father’s inability to leave the facility and “tell everyone” was moot because it now appears that it was The New York Post that told the world and Couric caught wind that way and felt threatened. Typical gossip rag pitting women against each other and fomenting distrust, and yet Couric depicted it as a strategic play to this day. Her words were simplistic and dismissive and she could’ve said, “her father went to the New York Post” instead of “telling anyone who’ll listen.” That IS a misleading statement and she deserved to be called out.

    • Emma says:

      That is a really pessimistic view, and I’m sad life didn’t give you any reason to think any differently. I have encountered very lovely, very talented people in positions of power and also some pretty selfish and ruthless and even criminal people. I completely disagree that you can’t possibly rise to the top without being a mean girl — two words: Dolly Parton. It’s absolutely possible for women to mentor and help others and it’s because of those like Ashleigh Banford who refuse to believe that sexist lie that the work world is a better environment for women in general today.

    • Isabella says:

      One seat for women is the problem. That forces women to compete with each other for one spot. It also keeps them powerless. It took #metoo to open up plum jobs for women. We learned that we didn’t need to kiss up to a Matt Lauer. Katie did have to. I am sure it was toxic—and she was deliberately blind.

      I disagree that you have to be savage in the newsroom. There are women and men in top jobs who got there by skillfully working contacts and demonstrating awesome reporting skills on a daily basis.

      The people below you can sabotage your work if you act like bitches and bastards or they can lift you up. Act like a bitch and you will find yourself alone at the worst time.

  4. Lizzie says:

    Bravo. She is a class act.

    • L4frimaire says:

      It really was a perfect response to Couric’s book excerpt. I love how she championed mentoring up and coming colleagues.

  5. Izzy says:

    Too bad the publisher didn’t bother to fact-check because Couric was already an ahole but this looks AWFUL. She shouldn’t have dragged anyone’s parents into it.

  6. JenBanana says:

    I love it.

  7. Oh_Hey says:

    Ugh. Katie’s book is the culmination of a career of “girlbossing” from the looks of it. Gaslighting, back biting, grossness but in a skirt.

    My childhood memories of breakfast with the today show before school – smashed because she and Lauer are trash.

  8. Hetta says:

    Years ago Spy Magazine did a Separated at Birth featuring Katie Couric and Herman Munster. So on point to this day I cannot see one without thinking of the other.

  9. Willow says:

    Oh, I love her.
    And that New York Post reporter, whoever you are, that preyed on an elderly father worried about his child in a war zone, that was despicable.

    • Carty says:

      Especially if he was in memory care! Then Katie saying in her book he was going around ‘telling’ everyone? She’s awful.

  10. Yup, Me says:

    Katie Couric said that she’d HEARD that Ashleigh’s father was saying such and such and that contributed to her (Katie) feeling threatened. What she heard may not have been accurate, but the point was about how unstable and insecure she felt and that stands.

    Also, there’s a huge part of me lol-ing at these media blondes and the discussion around who was the bestest and most sincerest media blonde of their day. They are all in a cut throat industry where they had to beat out hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of others wanting to do what they were doing. Yes, they are talented, but talent and perk (and a good dye job) alone aren’t getting anyone to the top of the mountain (and then keeping them up there). I’m sure they’ve all done their dirt to get where they are.

    • North of Boston says:

      Since when was Katie Couric a blonde while working?

      Wasn’t “perky brunette” the image she sold to differentiate herself from Norville?

  11. Tourmaline says:

    Wow very well said by Ashleigh Banfield. I had missed the whole aspect of her father in the story when Katie Couric’s comments were reported. And LOL at Ashleigh pointing out she wasn’t that much younger than her.

    Ashleigh is still here as a woman in the news business, and Katie is now a sideshow curiosity with her tell all, so there’s that.

  12. Lizzie Bathory says:

    Everything I’ve heard so far about Katie Couric’s memoir makes her sound like an asshole. And what’s with the cover shot? Why are her feet bare? It’s like she’s trying to sell this book with “bridge burning” narratives & foot fetish appeal.

  13. Cava24 says:

    Obviously I don’t know myself but if it comes out that Katie Couric knee-capped a bunch of other female reporters by casually denigrating their work, having guys assigned to more plumb reporting assignments and just generally hyping men up over women, I will not be surprised. Because she would have been asked her opinion at times and you almost can’t function in that sort of environment without connecting yourself to colleagues both above and below you and we already know she wasn’t willing to help other women. She supported someone, just not other women. This isn’t as neutral as Couric wants to make it sound.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    I don’t think Ashleigh even needed to respond to this. Katie is one looking bad here.

  15. North of Boston says:

    There was some gross nasty misogyny in Katie’s self-reported cold-shouldering of AB because on something Banfield’s DAD said.

    Like she supposedly wasn’t basing her shutout strategy on Banfield herself (an adult professional journalist) or the sexist work environment they shared, but on what an elder MALE family member supposedly said about her.

    And now to learn it was actually based on a gross misrepresentation of what an elderly care home resident may have said to a squirrelly reporter and gossip just makes it all the grosser.

  16. I just can't says:

    Clearly, Katie looks bad here.

    However, the rainbows and unicorns perception of the world of showbusiness by the general public needs to go.

    These places are run by (mostly) men, and it’s no secret that the ones who rise to the top are the most cut throat, driven, and likely well connected.

    Things may be starting to change now, but back in the 90s, the world was very different.

    As much as I think mentoring other women and being kind and supportive is a wonderful thing, I have lots of sympathy for Katie here.

    I mean, what was she supposed to do? Mentor some younger, prettier, super ambitious woman and just smile and congratulate her when said younger woman steps into her job?

    Sure, she’d be well liked, but at the cost of being unemployed. Why should she sacrifice everything she worked so hard for in a ruthless business just to come across as nice?

    It’s bad optics, but I can’t say I blame her.

    Basically, this situation smacks of that old chestnut “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

    • Coco says:

      So then you think it’s fine that she knew about Matt Lauer abusing, raping and harassing women and saying nothing?

      • Magick Wanda says:

        And then she sent this to Matt Lauer after NBC finally fired him. This is from her book. Katie is just anti-woman. She is nauseating.

        “I am crushed,” Couric wrote in a text quoted in her book. “I love you and care about you deeply. … Couric said Lauer responded with a blowing kiss emoji. While Couric said she read about all the “awful things” Lauer had done, she still worried about him and feared he was “sleepless, haggard, depressed, maybe worse.”

    • Jaded says:

      You have sympathy for someone who built her career on jealousy, misogyny, spite, backstabbing and outright lying? This is something you admire? Katie Couric is a walking textbook of toxic workplace behaviour.

    • Deering24 says:

      “I mean, what was she supposed to do? Mentor some younger, prettier, super ambitious woman and just smile and congratulate her when said younger woman steps into her job?”

      Damn, I’m sick of hearing this whiny weak-ass rationale from far too many female Boomer media figures. She had other production irons in the fire. She could have concentrated on her own production/documentary unit within NBC so she wouldn’t be at the mercy of the “This Year’s Blonde” anchorperson syndrome. (You know, like Barbara Walters did.) With her money and connections, there were other options to playing by patriarchal rules.And she sure as _fuck_ didn’t have to support a rapist colleague in exploiting women. The truth is is that she didn’t care enough to not sell her soul. The truth is that the game worked for her, and that was all that mattered. I seldom agree with the NY Post about anything, but they nailed her perfectly. https://nypost.com/2021/10/01/katie-couric-reveals-herself-as-an-misogynistic-idiot/

  17. Grant says:

    I hate that cover. Her face looks weird, her hair looks terrible, and put on some shoes!

  18. Marcie says:

    The only way Ashleigh’s father saying what KC said he said carried any weight would be if he was an exec at NBC or GE. Her father had absolutely no power at NBC so it’s just weird that KC was so upset by that.

    • SofiasSideEye says:

      I agree! When first reading the story I assumed that her father must have been some media bigwig. Turns out he was under care for dementia and worried about his daughter in a war zone and being exploited! And, how is it that a woman who was an experienced journalist like KC just believed something outright because it was published by page six? Ugh

  19. Kkat says:

    I didn’t know who AB father is, so I came away with the impression that he did have power in the news industry and he got her a job.

    So that’s the impression I was probably meant to get

    • Magick Wanda says:

      I agree that was the impression we were supposed to get but in truth, AB’s father was in a care home with dementia. Katie is just horrible.

  20. Pix says:

    Wow – now that is was a sick burn because Ashleigh showed such grace to the mean girl. I don’t know who told Katie Couric to write a tell-all, but that person obviously couldn’t/can’t see how her actions were terrible. I’m dying to know what Katie says about Ann Curry – who I love.

  21. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    “years and years and years”
    subtle burn. Very subtle.

  22. My Cats Rule Me says:

    Ashleigh is pure class and good for her for setting the story straight. Katie should have known that Ashleigh is Canadian (now a naturalized American) whose parents live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and her dad was quite elderly at that time so I doubt he was telling everyone who would listen that she was going to replace her. I use to work for her brother, Joe and when she found out my husband was a fan of hers, she sent him a personalized glossy which was such a nice thing to do and made his day. Total class to Couric’s pettiness.

  23. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Hmm. That was professional. I just finished posting on the Couric page so I’m still gnashing. It’s fine. She’s at an age where anything else, so publicly, would be thorny and problematic. Although I wish she had made some eye-opening connection between the years of adoring a childhood hero and discovering that hero to be wholly and irrefutably undeserving of any praise or adoration until the end of time. She’s a criminally-adjacent monster swimming in the swamp with nasty men and calling it pea puree with a dimpled oversmile.

  24. Detnow359 says:

    My boss who works in PR has met and is friends with many celebrities. She has encountered Couric several times and said she is the nastiest people she’s ever encountered. And has a mouth like a sailor. Her fakeness really comes through so none of this surprises me. Or her confirmation about Lauer.

  25. qtpi says:

    Ashleigh was great on MSNBC. Loved her. Figured she was going places big time. And then poof she was gone. How stupid.

  26. Isabella says:

    I’ve always loved AB’s reporting & have never considered Couric more than an on-screen personality. AB handled this beautifully, except for gushing over Couric. This made me gag.

    “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.