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Katie Couric’s wonderfully frank new memoir Going There depicts the tension the famous TV journalist has wrestled with throughout her career: resisting — but sometimes embracing — her persistent image as “America’s Sweetheart,” especially during her years cohosting NBC’s Today show, when she wanted to be taken seriously in the realm of hard news. She describes it as a battle between the “Katie and Katherine” sides of her personality.
Her book makes it clear that, despite her omnipresent smile and morning-show-style affability, Couric, 64, is a fiercely competitive and ambitious journalist — and that it would be hard to survive otherwise in an industry that, as she describes it, “runs on schadenfreude,” and is rife with backstabbing climbers and executives single-mindedly focused on winning the battle for viewers. (Her descriptions of the wily attempts by bookers for Today and ABC’s Good Morning America to steal each other’s guests are enough to make the memoir worth a read.)
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But while Couric’s certainly not shy about detailing how her hard work led to headline-generating interviews (Sarah Palin, David Duke), not to mention multimillion-dollar network contracts ($15 million annually at CBS, post-Today), she’s also honest about her regrets and failures. That includes being truly awful on camera in her early years: While working as an assistant assignment editor at CNN, the company president called young Couric’s boss, who relayed a message to her: “He never wants to see you on air again.” Much later, Dan Rather complained that she was “dumbing down and tarting up” the news at CBS. She also describes her ambivalence and bafflement over her former cohost Matt Lauer’s sexual assault allegations (she’s severed all ties but was clearly deeply fond of him.)
And we learn about her longtime eating disorder, gut-wrenching grief over her husband Jay Monahan’s illness and death from colon cancer at age 42, subsequent dating life — even Katie Couric gets dumped sometimes! — and finally finding love again with current husband John Molner.