By:
October 20, 2021

Katie Couric’s memoir isn’t even out yet, and it already has generated a ton of news and interest.

On Tuesday, Couric returned to her old stomping grounds to talk about that book — “Going There,” due out Oct. 26 — and one of her most famous (now infamous) colleagues. Couric was on the “Today” show, a show she once co-hosted, and she answered questions about her former “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer, who was fired by NBC in 2017 for inappropriate sexual behavior.

Couric told “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie that she has “no relationship” with Lauer these days.

“As I got more information and learned what was going on behind the scenes, it was really upsetting and disturbing,” Couric said. “It was really devastating, but also disgusting. I think what I realized is that there was a side of Matt I never really knew, and I tried to understand why he behaved the way he did, and why he was so reckless and callous, and honestly abusive to other women.”

Couric also addressed a more recent controversy from her book when she wrote that she omitted some comments made by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a 2016 interview regarding the kneeling protest by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Excerpts from that portion of the book were revealed in the past week. Couric said she left out some of what Ginsburg said in order to “protect” her. Couric also said those particular Ginsburg comments were “subject to interpretation.”

Couric told Guthrie, “Ultimately, I think I should have included it. But I also think it’s really important to look at what I did include. She had to make a statement afterwards saying her comments were harsh and dismissive.”

Actually, if you go back to Couric’s interview with Ginsburg, what Couric quotes Ginsburg as saying was pretty pointed. Ginsburg told Couric that such protests, in her opinion, were “dumb and disrespectful.” Ginsburg told Couric at the time, “I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

In the quote that Couric didn’t run, Ginsburg said that those who kneel during the national anthem are showing “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.”

I might come off as a bit of a Couric apologist here, but it’s not as if she completely buried Ginsburg’s comments. Honestly, I thought the comments Couric did publish were just as harsh as the one comment that she left out. In fact, Ginsburg’s published comments were bad enough that Ginsburg put out a statement at the time saying, “My comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond.”

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote, “From an accountability perspective, though, the ‘contempt’ remarks were more pertinent, as they exposed Ginsburg’s ignorance and insensitivity on a front-burner topic in national politics. Publishing them alone would have been more journalistic than the course (Couric) chose.”

Ultimately, Couric agreed.

Couric told Guthrie, “What I wish I had done is asked a follow-up to clarify, or just run it and let her clarify it later, but I think the most pertinent and direct response to the question about Colin Kaepernick I included, and that’s why I raised it because maybe I should have done the other sentence, as well.”

King’s revealing news

CNN’s John King. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

CNN’s John King dropped a stunning announcement on Tuesday while talking about COVID-19 vaccines. King said he has multiple sclerosis.

On air with colleagues during his “Inside Politics” show, King said, “I’m going to share a secret I’ve never spoken before: I’m immunocompromised. I have multiple sclerosis. So I’m grateful you’re all vaccinated. I’m grateful my employer says all these amazing people working on the floor came in here for the last 18 months when we were doing this are vaccinated now that we have vaccines. I worry about bringing it home to my 10-year-old son who can’t get a vaccine. I don’t like my government telling me what to do. I don’t like my boss telling me what to do. In this case, it’s important.”

King’s announcement came during a discussion on how some — especially among right-wing media — have used the death of Colin Powell from COVID-19 complications to cast doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines. Powell was immunocompromised because he also had multiple myeloma, as well as Parkinson’s disease.

Meanwhile, another cable news anchor with multiple sclerosis announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. Fox News’ Neil Cavuto said he has been vaccinated, and is thankful for that fact. Cavuto was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, and had heart surgery in 2016.

“While I’m somewhat stunned by this news, doctors tell me I’m lucky as well,” Cavuto said. “Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation. It’s not, because I did and I’m surviving this because I did. I hope anyone and everyone gets that message loud and clear. Get vaccinated, for yourself and everyone around you. Everyone wins, except maybe my wife, who thought I was back in the city for good for live shows. Maybe not so fast now.”

Trump’s insensitive statement on Powell

Former President Donald Trump put out this, uh, remembrance of Colin Powell:

“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”

As New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted, “Given the chance to be gracious about someone’s death, or say nothing at all, Trump takes a decidedly different route.”

CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote, “What Trump’s statement should remind us is that this is a man uniquely self-obsessed — and without any ability to see beyond himself. Powell was openly critical of Trump — he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 — and of the dark direction the billionaire businessman was leading the country. And so, Trump saw Powell’s death as an opportunity to get back at him — and took it. This is, in a word, classless. In two words: Utterly classless.”

Bongino fighting vaccine mandate

Dan Bongino, the conservative radio host who took over the time slot once filled by Rush Limbaugh, appears headed for a showdown with Cumulus Media over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Cumulus owns Westwood One, which syndicates Bongino’s program across more than 300 stations. Cumulus gave employees until Sept. 27 to be fully vaccinated and said there would be no exceptions.

On Monday’s program, Bongino told listeners, “I’m not really happy with the company I work with right here. I believe these vaccine mandates are unethical. I believe they’re immoral. I believe they don’t take into account the science of natural immunity due to a prior infection. I believe they’re broad-based and don’t take into account individual circumstances of why they may or may not want to take a vaccine. And they’re antithetical to everything I believe in.”

He added, “So, I’ll say again, I’m not going to let this go. Cumulus is going to have to make a decision with me — if they want to continue this partnership or they don’t. But I’m talking to you on their airwaves. They don’t have to let that happen. And I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t. Because it’s really unfortunate that people with a lower profile than me, who don’t have 300-plus stations, have been summarily either shown the door or been put in really untenable circumstances because they simply want to make a medical decision by themselves.”

Bongino told Cumulus on air that they could either have him or the mandate, adding, “But you can’t have both of us.”

The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr has more details. Barr wrote, “If he leaves the network, Bongino would be the most prominent conservative media personality to quit a job over a vaccination mandate.”

Meghan McCain talks about ‘The View’

Meghan McCain speaks at the “NO FEAR: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People” event in Washington In July. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Meghan McCain says it was a toxic work environment that led to her leaving ABC’s “The View” earlier this year.

Variety ran an excerpt of her new book, “Bad Republican,” in which McCain writes about being treated poorly by her co-hosts. In one incident, she recalled a now-famous on-air argument with co-host Joy Behar.

McCain wrote, “To make light of things and to ease the tension, I said, ‘Joy, you missed me so much when I was on maternity leave! You missed fighting with me!’”

Behar answered, “I did not. I did not miss you. Zero.”

McCain wrote, “Nothing anyone has ever said to me on camera since I have been giving interviews since I was 22 years old ever hit this hard. I felt like I’d been slapped. She yelled out at me sharp and intensely and I believed her.”

McCain went on to write, “She’d triggered my postpartum anxiety and now I was on a roller coaster that I couldn’t stop. While I wept, I no longer felt safe working at ‘The View.’ It is one of the most singular feelings of loneliness and anguish I have felt in my entire life.”

McCain also gave an interview to Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh, who disclosed in the piece that he is a friend of McCain’s. McCain told Setoodeh that she was treated differently and unfairly because she was the lone conservative voice on the panel. McCain gives plenty of details about how she felt working on the show and says she would never work there again. “That’s not going to happen,” she said.

When asked if she watches the show, McCain said, “No. It would be like looking at an ex-boyfriend’s Instagram. What’s the point?”

Washington Post shakes up leadership

Big changes at The Washington Post. Two veteran editors are being moved into senior leadership positions and another editor is being given an expanded role. The moves come four months after Sally Buzbee took over as the Post’s executive editor.

Cameron Barr, who is the managing editor for news and features, will become senior managing editor and will be No. 2 behind Buzbee in the newsroom. Kat Downs Mulder, managing editor for digital, will also become the chief product officer. And Krissah Thompson, the Post’s first managing editor for diversity and inclusion, will take over climate and environmental coverage, features reporting and recruitment.

There’s more. Tracy Grant, who had been managing editor under former executive editor Marty Baron in 2018, will go back to being a writer.

Post media writer Paul Farhi has more details on the moves.

Media tidbits

  • NBC News’ Chuck Todd will interview California Gov. Gavin Newsom today at 5 p.m. Eastern as part of the Milken Institute Global Conference. Here’s the link if you would like to watch.
  • “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is launching a new podcast on Oct. 25. The pod will lift audio from the TV show, including monologues, interviews and performances. The podcast will be hosted on Megaphone, a Spotify company, and will be available to advertisers via the Spotify Audience Network.
  • NBC News’ Lester Holt will be honored tonight with the Fourth Estate Award by the National Press Club during its annual gala. The event will be a virtual one. Holt will become the 49th recipient of the award, which recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field.
  • PBS’s “Frontline” and The GroundTruth Project will launch their first book project called “MISEDUCATION: How Climate Change Is Taught In America.” Written by former “Frontline” investigative journalist Katie Worth and published by Columbia Global Reports, the book looks at the red-blue divide on climate education in American schools. Here’s more information.
  • Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen with “Lauded local news co-op’ shuts down without warning, leaving its co-owners in the dark.”

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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