News, Culture & Society

Ashleigh Banfield believes Katie Couric DERAILED her career

Former NBC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield believes Katie Couric derailed her career after the veteran anchor revealed in her explosive new memoir that she felt threatened by the rising star. 

Couric wrote in the bombshell memoir titled Going There: ‘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.’ 

DailyMail.com exclusively published details of Couric’s explosive memoir earlier this week. It is out in late October and will be accompanied by an 11-city book tour. 

Banfield, who was at NBC with Couric from 2000-2004, told TMZ that her initial reaction to what was written in the memoir was anger. 

‘First I was mad about what she said about my dad because it wasn’t true. He was senile and near 80 and he wasn’t out telling people that,’ she said, adding that she felt it was ‘bad fact-checking and it wasn’t meant in a mean way’. 

Former NBC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield spoke on a passage from Katie Couric’s memoir that revealed she was threatened by the rising star – and Banfield thinks the jealousy may have derailed her career at the network (pictured responding to the memoir on NewsNation)

When Banfield (pictured) responded to the memoir, she noted that in hindsight, she 'got a sense' Couric was behind her demise at NBC and has been 'going over the last 20 years' because at the time Banfield 'really didn't feel like I was a big deal' and Couric 'was everything'

Couric (pictured) wrote in her memoir titled Going There: 'For a minute there, Ashleigh Banfield was the next big thing...mentorship sometimes felt like self-sabotage'

Couric (right) wrote in her memoir titled Going There: ‘For a minute there, Ashleigh Banfield was the next big thing…mentorship sometimes felt like self-sabotage.’ When Banfield (left) responded, she noted that in hindsight, she ‘got a sense’ Couric was behind her demise at NBC and has been ‘going over the last 20 years’ because at the time Banfield ‘really didn’t feel like I was a big deal’ and Couric ‘was everything’

While on TMZ Live on Friday she recalled her time at the network, where she was awarded her own primetime show after her ground coverage of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, which earned her an Emmy Award.

But in 2002 her show was suddenly cancelled. ‘I had a million viewers at night at 9.00,’ she told TMZ, seemingly trying to make sense of what happened.  

Banfield added: ‘All I can think about is that I was at the top of my game… I was on the cover of Vogue magazine. There was a full, front-page story about me on the national newspaper in Canada, The New York Post was doing full-page stories. 

‘So the press on me was huge and it was positive and just – within an instant, with no warning, no explanation – it was just all over. Everything disappeared. 

‘They cancelled me. They took away my office, my phone, my desk. I wandered aimlessly, literally looking for desks to sit at for about 10 months. Then they cleared out a tape closet and put a desk in there and that’s where I sat the rest of my contract.’

When asked if she believed Couric had a hand in her demise at NBC, Banfield simply said that she heard rumors and, in hindsight, she ‘got a sense,’ Couric was behind it.

However, when Banfield thought back to how she felt when she was working at the network, it seemed difficult for her to imagine Couric could do such a thing. 

‘Let’s not forget, I really didn’t feel like I was a big deal,’ Banfield noted, adding that Couric ‘was everything’ on NBC. 

‘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 that it was possible that anything could’ve been going on behind the scenes to derail me there. I really didn’t believe it.’ 

‘I’ve just been going over the last 20 years,’ she said.    

‘I really wanted to live my life there, I love that family. I wanted to die there. I used to say, “They’re not getting me out of here unless they take me out in a box,”‘ Banfield told TMZ. 

‘I’m still really not over it,’ she said, adding how she remembered watching her ‘adored colleagues – Lester Holt, Nora O’Donnell and Mike Brzezinski – moving ahead without me and I just could never understand why and no one would ever give me a reason’.

She said of being driven off NBC: 'They cancelled me. They took away my office, my phone, my desk... Then they cleared out a tape closet and put a desk in there and that's where I sat the rest of my contract.' Banfield now hosts Banfield on NewsNation (pictured), which airs weeknights at 10pm

She said of being driven off NBC: ‘They cancelled me. They took away my office, my phone, my desk… Then they cleared out a tape closet and put a desk in there and that’s where I sat the rest of my contract.’ Banfield now hosts Banfield on NewsNation (pictured), which airs weeknights at 10pm

In Couric's Going There, she detailed her experiences working for The Today Show, including the rivalries she felt with co-workers such as Banfield and her experiences with Matt Lauer, who she reportedly sent sympathetic texts to after he was fired in 2017

In Couric’s Going There, she detailed her experiences working for The Today Show, including the rivalries she felt with co-workers such as Banfield and her experiences with Matt Lauer, who she reportedly sent sympathetic texts to after he was fired in 2017

In the TMZ interview it was clear the ‘unceremonious’ way NBC drove Banfield off the network still hurts. 

‘It feels weird to say this but the emotional gut punch that it took to my soul and when NBC sort of kicked me to the curb – it lasted a long time… It broke my heart. It broke my soul,’ she said.  

As for the line in Couric’s memoir where she alludes that mentoring Banfield ‘sometimes felt like self-sabotage,’ Banfield ‘really wondered if this is it’.

She added: ‘It’s really hard to process this, I’m not gonna lie, because I have found the most joy in my career having women – and men – look up to me and ask for advice. 

‘I kinda get a charge out of it thinking I’m an elder statesman and that I could be that resource for people and I have loved doing it… And I’ve never felt that it derailed me in any way. The opposite – I got that all back. That investment has always come back to me. So the fact that it might not have happened for me, it’s a bit heartbreaking.’

So, according to Couric’s memoir, while the rumors from more than two decades ago may be true, Banfield doesn’t seem to hold a grudge, and attributed Couric’s jealousy to competitiveness between women in the TV industry.

‘I’ll also say this – it’s not easy for women,’ Banfield told TMZ. ‘And in the 90s it stank. We always felt like we were on the edge of being trashed and cast aside. 

‘Ageism for women was so palpable (that) I felt in my thirties that I needed Botox. So I don’t think that it’s wrong that Katie felt that way. I think that every woman no matter how successful they were felt like they were disposable on television.’

Katie Couric, 64, was pictured on Friday walking along the beach in the Hamptons, close to her East Hampton home. It was the first time she had been seen in public since her explosive memoir - out on October 26 - was leaked

Katie Couric, 64, was pictured on Friday walking along the beach in the Hamptons, close to her East Hampton home. It was the first time she had been seen in public since her explosive memoir – out on October 26 – was leaked

Couric was all smiles as she walked along the beach on Friday in the sunshine

Couric was all smiles as she walked along the beach on Friday in the sunshine

Couric was pictured walking in the sunshine

Beaming in the sunshine, the pair strolled along the stunning East Hampton beach

Couric was seen with a friend taking a stroll in the sunshine, looking relaxed and happy despite the fallout from her memoir – in which she attacked Diane Sawyer, Martha Stewart and Ashleigh Banfield

 Banfield since worked as a correspondent for ABC News and co-anchored the CNN morning news. She now hosts Banfield on NewsNation, which airs weeknights at 10pm.

Meanwhile, as Banfield was reliving her time at NBC thanks to Couric’s shock memoir, the 64-year-old was spotted strolling in the sunshine along the beach in East Hampton, seemingly without a care in the world.

On Friday she was pictured near the home, walking on the sand with a friend and looking relaxed and happy – despite the fallout from the explosive memoir.

Her new book, obtained this week by DailyMail.com, has sent shockwaves through the media and show business worlds with its admissions that she deliberately avoided helping younger rivals, and that she even ‘heard whispers’ about co-host Matt Lauer, who was fired in November 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The women who were left ‘damaged’ by Lauer’s actions spoke with Couric as she was writing her book, she revealed, although the former anchor didn’t name them.

In one story involving Lauer, she said that he would deal with women behind closed doors in his office, which was equipped with a desk button to lock the door.

Couric writes that one unnamed producer was told by Lauer to come to the now-infamous office wearing a ‘skirt that came off easily’. 

Former Today Show host Katie Couric admits that she 'heard the whispers' abut Matt Lauer's inappropriate office behavior in her new book

Former Today Show host Katie Couric admits that she ‘heard the whispers’ abut Matt Lauer’s inappropriate office behavior in her new book

She also claims that Lauer complained to her that he felt uncomfortable putting his arm around a female colleague to comfort her when she cried, over fears he could subsequently face an allegation of inappropriate behavior. 

Even before these allegations were made, Couric said her former co-anchor told her he thought that feminist movements such as #MeToo were becoming too powerful. 

She also used the memoir to tell how she hired a nanny when her now 30-year-old daughter Ellie was a newborn, who became ‘delusional’ and tried to sabotage her marriage, accusing her late husband of being a pedophile. 

EXCLUSIVE: Katie Couric rips into former TODAY Show colleagues, admits she froze out female rivals to ‘protect her turf,’ says her toyboy ex was a ‘midlife crisis’ and takes potshots at Prince Harry who stank of alcohol in her new memoir 

Katie Couric spares few from criticism in her new memoir, which she uses to settle scores from her four decades in TV, DailyMail.com can reveal.

Over 500 pages in length, Couric tears into ex-boyfriends, former colleagues at NBC and CBS and ridicules A-list celebrities including Prince Harry.

In ‘Going There’, Couric admits that she gave Ashleigh Banfield the cold shoulder early in her career because helping her would have been ‘self sabotage’.

She rips into Deborah Norville, who she replaced on the TODAY Show, for having a ‘relentless perfection’ which turned off morning show viewers.

When Couric switched from TODAY to host the Evening News on CBS, staffers fought back with an ‘insurgency’ which left her feeling like Hillary Clinton because she was so under siege, she writes. 

Couric is just as blunt about her love life and says ex-boyfriend Brooks Perlin, who was 17 years her junior, was a ‘mid-life crisis’ while TV producer Tom Werner was a ‘textbook narcissist’.

Couric puts down Martha Stewart, saying it took a ‘some healthy humbling (prison will do that . . .) to develop a sense of humor.’

Even the Royal family end up in Couric’s sights and she describes how Prince Harry stank of cigarettes and alcohol when they met, and how Prince Andrew cozied up to Jeffrey Epstein at a bizarre dinner at his New York mansion.

DailyMail.com has seen the manuscript, which is out in late October and will be accompanied by an 11-city book tour.

DailyMail.com has read the manuscript for Katie Couric's book 'Going There', which is out in late October and will be accompanied by an 11-city book tour

DailyMail.com has read the manuscript for Katie Couric’s book ‘Going There’, which is out in late October and will be accompanied by an 11-city book tour

Couric rips into Deborah Norville, who she replaced on the TODAY Show, for having a 'relentless perfection' which turned off morning show viewers. The hosts are pictured in 1990

Couric rips into Deborah Norville, who she replaced on the TODAY Show, for having a ‘relentless perfection’ which turned off morning show viewers. The hosts are pictured in 1990

The book has sparked outrage among people who have seen the manuscript, one saying  that it ‘should be called Burning Bridges by Catty Couric as it literally reads like Kitty Kelley wrote it about Katie’, referring to the notoriously snarky celebrity biographer.

Couric’s last major gig was with Yahoo which ended in 2017. Another person said that after this book she will ‘never get a job at any television network or cable channel ever again because she attacks everyone’.

‘She’ll be stuck with her newsletter and Instagram stories for the rest of her working life even though the book oozes of her desperation to be back on network television hosting her own show,’ they said.

‘Going There’ does tell Couric’s personal story including a moving chapter about the death of her father, whose shift into PR from journalism to have a steady income for his young family was Couric’s inspiration to be a reporter.

But as the book progresses that narrative gets sidelined for sideswipes at people Couric feels have maligned her.

CONTEMPT FOR HER RIVALS

Among the most striking passages is Couric explaining how she didn’t stick up for other women at work because she saw them as a threat to her own career.

She admits that she had bad feelings for Deborah Norville even though she replaced her hosting TODAY in 1991.

Norville took two months off for maternity leave and Couric filled in – when Norville didn’t return Couric got the job permanently.

Couric claims there were ‘residual bad feelings’ towards Norville for her obvious differences with Jane Pauley, her former TODAY co-host who left in 1989 under acrimonious conditions.

Couric writes that Norville had a ‘major relatability problem’ because she was too perfect at a time in the morning when people were still getting ready for the day.

One colleague supposedly told Couric that ‘with Deborah, people feel like they need to get dressed before they turn on the TV’.

Couric admits that during her time at TODAY she was unwelcoming to other women because she felt like she needed to ‘protect my turf.’

She writes that she was aware that ‘someone younger and cuter was always around the corner’ and singles out Banfield as an example.

Couric 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.’

Among the celebrities that Couric takes potshots at are Prince Harry. She recalled that the smell of cigarettes and alcohol seemed to 'ooze from every pore' in his body

Among the celebrities that Couric takes potshots at are Prince Harry. She recalled that the smell of cigarettes and alcohol seemed to ‘ooze from every pore’ in his body 

Couric's book is over 500 pages in length and she tears into former colleagues at NBC and CBS. She's pictured in 1992 with her colleagues on the TODAY Show. Left to right: Gene Shalit, Bryant Gumbel, Deborah Norville. Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, Jane Pauley, Katie Couric, Willard Scott, Tom Brokaw

Couric’s book is over 500 pages in length and she tears into former colleagues at NBC and CBS. She’s pictured in 1992 with her colleagues on the TODAY Show. Left to right: Gene Shalit, Bryant Gumbel, Deborah Norville. Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, Jane Pauley, Katie Couric, Willard Scott, Tom Brokaw

She had little affection for Martha Stewart and at an awards ceremony in 1996 Couric roasted her with a snarky poem which said that ‘anything I can do you (Stewart) can do better.’

Stewart was unamused and Couric writes that it took a ‘some healthy humbling (prison will do that . . .) to develop a sense of humor.’

Among the celebrities that Couric takes potshots at are Prince Harry, who she met at a polo match in Brazil during his ‘wild-oats sowing phase.’

She recalled that the smell of cigarettes and alcohol seemed to ‘ooze from every pore’ in his body.

Couric left Joan Rivers so angry after asking if she had plastic surgery on her short-lived talk show ‘Katie’ that they never spoke again.

Backstage, Rivers said of Couric: ‘Who does she think she is? She’s on her knees blowing 14-year-olds’, referring to Brooks Perlin, her much-younger boyfriend.

MIXING WITH THE NOTORIOUS

Couric was among those who attended the infamous 2010 dinner at Jeffrey Epstein’s house when Prince Andrew was also there.

She describes Epstein’s $75million New York townhouse as ‘Eyes Wide Shut with a twist – creepy chandeliers and body-part art’.

Guests ate lasagna out of shallow bowls and Epstein ‘held court’ in front of the fireplace to the likes of Chelsea Handler and Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Rose.

On the way home Perlin remarked how young the women were who took their coats.

Couric writes: ‘I couldn’t imagine what Epstein and Andrew were up to, apart from trying to cultivate friends in the media. Which, in retrospect, they must have figured they’d need when the pedophilia charges started rolling in.’

FAILED RELATIONSHIPS 

While Couric writes emotionally about the death of her first husband Jay Monahan from cancer, she also admits that her fame drove a wedge between them.

Couric’s celebrity status ‘took up residence in our marriage like an overbearing houseguest’, as she describes it, and claims that the bigger she got, the smaller Monahan felt.

Couric calls her relationship with Brooks Perlin as something that ‘screamed midlife crisis’ and that she was ‘rebelling’ because she had never done anything ‘particularly scandalous.’

That rebellion sometimes went too far, like the night she drank so much she ended up in hospital on an IV drip – which she kept top secret, worrying that it would lead to headlines in the New York press like: ‘Anchor hits Rock Bottom!’

Couric writes that she regrets moving Perlin into her home without asking daughters so they had to deal with a 30-something guy walking around shirtless

The relationship led to ‘distance’ between her parents and her children which Couric also regrets.

Couric writes emotionally about the death of her first husband Jay Monahan (pictured) from cancer and admits that her fame drove a wedge between them

Couric writes emotionally about the death of her first husband Jay Monahan (pictured) from cancer and admits that her fame drove a wedge between them

Her relationship with Tom Werner ended when he dumped her by email and Couric brands him a 'textbook narcissist' who 'love bombed her' with flowers and gifts

Her relationship with Tom Werner ended when he dumped her by email and Couric brands him a ‘textbook narcissist’ who ‘love bombed her’ with flowers and gifts

Couric is just as blunt about her love life and says ex-boyfriend Brooks Perlin, who was 17 years her junior, was a 'mid-life crisis. Pictured together in 2007

Couric is just as blunt about her love life and says ex-boyfriend Brooks Perlin, who was 17 years her junior, was a ‘mid-life crisis. Pictured together in 2007

‘Going There’ describes a bizarre 15 minute date Couric went on with Michael Jackson whose hand felt like a ‘dead fish’ when she shook it.

Her relationship with Tom Werner ended when he dumped her by email and Couric brands him a ‘textbook narcissist’ who ‘love bombed her’ with flowers and gifts.

In her 20s Couric went on a date with Neil Simon, the late playwright who was 30 years her senior.

They got back to his hotel, kissed and he had to stop because of his ‘blood pressure medication’ – Couric does not clarify what the exact condition was.

Around the same age Couric went for dinner at an Italian restaurant with Larry King, even though he was 24 years older than her.

Afterwards they went back to King’s apartment where Couric described him making a ‘lunge’ for her on the sofa with his tongue and his hands.

She pushed him off and a dejected King said: ‘When I like, I really like’.

UNFORCED ERRORS

After leaving TODAY Couric joined CBS to host the Evening News and do special reports for 60 Minutes on a salary of $15million a year, making her the highest paid journalist in the world.

It was a disastrous move and Couric describes how staffers felt she was an ‘existential threat’ to their existence.

Couric admits to making a number of ‘unforced errors’ such as giving her office a glam makeover which was out of step with the unfussy culture at CBS.

As CBS executives began talking publicly and privately against her, Couric writes that she suffered ‘internal sabotage’.

The book has sparked outrage among people who have read it and one said that it 'should be called Burning Bridges by Catty Couric'. She will 'never get a job at any television network or cable channel ever again because she attacks everyone,' one critic said

The book has sparked outrage among people who have read it and one said that it ‘should be called Burning Bridges by Catty Couric’. She will ‘never get a job at any television network or cable channel ever again because she attacks everyone,’ one critic said

Couric claims she was in an ‘unwinnable’ situation and her team ‘thought we’d be greeted as liberators; instead we got an insurgency’.

Things got so bad that Couric felt ’embattled, defensive, misunderstood. I guess you could say I was feeling like Hillary Clinton.’

In 2011 Couric left CBS and felt that she ‘never really belonged here’ because ‘the body had rejected the organ early on’.

While Couric takes aim at numerous people in ‘Going There’, she does offer some moments of self analysis.

When she joined TODAY, Couric announced to Monahan, her husband at the time: ‘I used to want to be the most popular girl in school. Now I’m the most popular girl in the country’.

Monahan called her ‘gross’ and hit her with a pillow.

After being dumped by Tom Werner, Couric went to a therapist who asked her if she had ever considered the idea that not everyone was going to like her.

Couric writes: ‘Honestly I sort of hadn’t’. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk