Ashleigh Banfield really wonders if Katie Couric was the one to ‘derail’ her career

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Katie Couric’s memoir, Going There, has been leaking in drips and drabs to the NY Post and Daily Mail over the past week. From the quotes we’ve heard so far, Couric comes across as a woman who has always had a deep reservoir of hatred for women she views as competition, and perhaps for women in general. One of the stories was about how she viewed Ashleigh Banfield as competition twenty years ago, and how she would not mentor younger women. Banfield addressed the Couric memoir leaks directly on her cable news show, correcting Couric’s slam on Banfield’s dad, and saying that Couric was always who she (Banfield) looked up to early in her career. Everyone knew that more would come out, and it seems like Banfield has been thinking about it too. Her mind went to the same place mine did: if Couric viewed Banfield as competition, was Couric the one forcing NBC News to let Banfield’s career die on the vine?

Ashleigh Banfield is still reeling from Katie Couric’s explosive new memoir. The tell-all has the NewsNation host re-examining her time at NBC and wondering whether her onetime idol was behind her ousting — which she said happened without explanation.

“I’ll say this, I got a sense yes,” Banfield, 53, told TMZ of Couric’s meddling. “I was never sure. Let’s not forget, I really didn’t feel like I was a big deal. She was everything. She made so much money, and she was so important. And she was so good at her job, and I looked up to her, so I didn’t believe it was possible that anything could have been going on behind the scenes to derail me there . . . I heard a lot of rumors. I really wondered if this is it. It’s really hard to process this, I’m not going to lie.”

Banfield noted that she was at the top of her game while at the Peacock network when she seemingly fell out of favor with the honchos.

“I had just gotten back from Afghanistan. I had a million viewers a night at 9 o’clock. I had been on Leno and Letterman and Carson Daly and ‘The Daily Show.’ ” She had been the subject of glowing profiles in magazines such as Vogue, and the New York Post touted her as a successor to Couric. “Then with no warning or explanation, it was just all over. Everything disappeared. They canceled me,” she claimed to TMZ. “They took away my office, my phone, my desk. I wandered aimlessly, literally looking for a desk to sit at for about 10 months.”

Banfield said they eventually cleared out a tape closet for her to work out of until her contract petered out, and she left in 2004. “So I’ve been going over the last 20 years of why my career just derailed so quickly with no explanation from NBC,” she said, calling her ouster “an emotional gut-punch” that she still isn’t over.

“It broke my heart. It broke my heart. It broke my soul,” she told TMZ, adding that the ’90s were a tough time for females. “We always felt like we were on the edge of being trashed and cast aside. Ageism for women was so palpable,” she said, adding that the cutthroat atmosphere made her feel she needed Botox as early as her 30s.

Her career’s demise at NBC has long fueled media-world water cooler talk. And in 2007, Banfield attributed her falling stock to a controversial speech she gave at Kansas State University about the Iraq War coverage.

“I sent out a cautionary note to all my colleagues covering this conflict and chastened the press corps not to wave the banner and cover warfare in a jingoistic way,” she told Adweek. “It didn’t sit well with my employers at NBC — who are no longer there. I think they overacted. I was banished. I sat in the outfield for a long time.”

[From The NY Post]

I also wondered what happened to Banfield. She had been tipped for “stardom” and she was well on her way to becoming a household name in TV journalism in 2000-2002. Then, as she says now, it all dried up. It was gone, up in a puff of smoke. Was it simply about Banfield’s speech about the ethics of journalism during wartime, or were calls made by Katie Couric? It could simply be a little from Column A, a little from Column B. It wouldn’t surprise me if the men in charge were irritated by Banfield’s hustle and omnipresence. It wouldn’t surprise me if Couric made some calls too.

Katie Couric attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Celebrating the 92nd Annual Academy Awards hos...

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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21 Responses to “Ashleigh Banfield really wonders if Katie Couric was the one to ‘derail’ her career”

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  1. Erica says:

    Jesus Christ that’s awful.

  2. tbg says:

    Why is Katie doing this? She has nothing to gain by burning all of these bridges and she’s tarnished her legacy forever. She needs to have her head examined. Maybe something has gone haywire upstairs. And supposedly the book is 500 pages. What a narcissist!

    • ModeratelyWealthy says:

      Some people feels she is trying to get ahead…in the age of social media, she might be fearful to be the subject of a takedown like Ellen, so it explains why Couric has been trying to set her view on how things went down in hopes some people buy the both sides argument ” Oh she admitted she was insecure about being replaced, not everybody has been a snowflake all the time -some do want to get ahead. Nothing to see.”

    • GrassRoots says:

      To my knowledge, Couric has always been known for being horrible to the people she worked with. I agree that she is probably trying to get out ahead of bad stuff that is going to come out about her.

    • STRIPE says:

      This reminds me of when I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography – I thought “wow, you sound like a jerk in this book that you helped write…you must be awful” and a few years later it all blew up for him and we all got to hear how terrible he is.

      I think maybe both he and Katie are completely lacking self awareness in the way that only famous people can be.

  3. LillyfromLillooet says:

    My first thought when I saw the headline was: oh god yes, of course.

  4. LadySwampwitchGivsneaufux says:

    Utterly speechless at what a Karen she is, ugh so gross. Now I look at that formerly sweet face and know that behind it the wheels of evil are spinning.

  5. lucy2 says:

    I vote for column A+B . I remember the height of Ashleigh’s news “stardom”, and at one point wondered what happened to her.

    • Betsy says:

      It was weird how she was everywhere and then just wasn’t. If she’s genuinely as baffled as we are…

      Oh, Katie Couric. I never trusted you for some reason. Now I know why!

    • The Recluse says:

      On 9-11 she was physically out there in NY City, reporting in on her phone. There is even footage out there of her passing through in the background on her phone. She was becoming an important presence on MSNBC/NBC and then suddenly she was gone and it was strange. I liked her, so this is interesting.

  6. Kiera says:

    I’m going to go with Couric had made some calls and was laying the groundwork. Then Ashley made the speech and Couric capitalized on it and made her move.

    I’ve known women like Couric, one was my mentor, and they mentor and help you until you get to where they think it’s ok and then you are stuck. They were told that women were allowed at the table but there were only so many seats. Rather than make more room they accepted that and made sure no one else could take their seat. It is a brutal and unhealthy relationship and one I’m glad I got out of.

  7. TeamMeg says:

    For those watching The Morning Show, life imitating art?

    Won’t say more. #NoSpoilers

  8. CV says:

    sorry this was all Karen Couric

  9. Bookie says:

    I am around the same age as Banfield and I loved her! I always wanted to be a journalist and I thought she was fabulous and did wonder why she disappeared.

    Katie Couric is a monster.

  10. WithTheAmerican says:

    Totally right, a little of both. The speech was just the tool Katie used to get higher ups to banish her. Back then you couldn’t criticize the war because that was seen as unpatriotic (Republican President, no criticism allowed).

    What a complete &#*@ Katie is.

  11. Ann says:

    God, I feel horrible for her. To have the rug pulled out from under you with no explanation, to be tossed aside like that, when you are working hard and going strong and deserve to be treated with dignity. Ugh. And she says she’s still not over it. I can understand that. It must have been a total gut punch.

    I don’t know if it was all Couric but seems like it was at least partly her, and that’s contemptible.

  12. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I can’t explain it. Everytime I see her, I start singing ‘Drift and Die.’

  13. candy says:

    I worked in politics for many years, and it was very similar to this kind of environment. There is a point where, sadly, you can only rise higher by playing dirty. I tried my best with good honest hard work and focusing on what I believed, but I was definitely outedged by people who were willing to lie, cheat, and steal. There are a ton of sociopaths at the top of most career paths.

    I would still rather wake up every day as the person that I am or the Ashely Banfields of the world though.

  14. wonderingwillow says:

    So are we actually supposed to believe that if Banfield had been offered Couric’s job she would have declined in the name of girl power? Also are we pretending Banfield got her place in the industry without stepping on any toes?

  15. Kathleen says:

    Couric sounds absolutely horrible, I cannot/will not argue about that. For the life of me I can’t understand why she would be putting a book like this out now.
    But… I remember watching the news coverage in the days right after 9/11 and Ashleigh Banfield was down around where the Towers had been, full disclosure – I’m from Brooklyn, I knew people so I was really raw at that point – Ashleigh stood near where the Towers were and referred to it as “the dead zone”. It just stuck with me, sticks with me to this day. I thought it was heartless, such a horrible choice of words. When I never saw her again after that, I never wondered why.