Katie Couric on Diane Sawyer: ‘I Wonder Who She Blew This Time‘
by Lloyd Grove, TheDailyBeast.com August 27
In a juicy new tell-all book, Katie Couric comes across as brash, striving, and self-absorbed, Diane Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic, and Christiane Amanpour has an off-putting moral superiority.
For Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour, the moment of truth is about to arrive—or at least a book-length facsimile thereof.News executives and network publicists have been distracting themselves from this summer’s seriously depressing or otherwise alarming world events by passing around and poring over bound galleys of The News Sorority, veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s gossipy chronicle of the rise (and occasional stumbles) of three of television news’ best-known women.In Weller’s narrative—which, as the subtitle indicates, aspires to document “the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News”—Couric comes off as brash, striving, self-absorbed, and occasionally insensitive to the realities faced by her less well-compensated coworkers, yet steeled by personal tragedy (the cancer-related deaths of her husband and her sister) and capable of big-hearted generosity.Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic who uses her seductive charm and good looks to professional advantage and torments news producers with her relentless perfectionism and insecurity—an apparent consequence of a fraught relationship with her judgmental, formidable mother (who once sent the adult Sawyer into a self-flagellating death spiral, Weller writes, when she criticized how her TV star daughter had made her bed).Amanpour is the reigning queen of the warzone, more physically courageous and resourceful than her male colleagues in perilous combat situations, but with an occasionally off-putting sense of moral superiority which, along with her posh British accent, sometimes renders her brittle and inaccessible to American audiences—a factor which seems to have hampered her career.
All three, in Weller’s account, are superb journalists who have risen to the top of their profession through sheer talent, brains, and hard work in an industry whose culture, even in the second decade of the 21st century, remains more than vestigially sexist. In one representative anecdote, CBS News Executive Vice President Paul Friedman publicly muses on an open audio line about which female anchor looks worse without makeup—Sawyer or Couric.
“I was blown back in my chair,” a female producer tells Weller. “What did it say about a man in senior management that he didn’t know he shouldn’t say that, of his boss [Katie], out loud?”
The expansive book, which runs to 471 pages sans index (the section that will undoubtedly be the most closely read by folks in the biz), won’t be officially on sale until its Sept. 30 release date. But Weller and her publisher, Penguin Press, have been working overtime to generate buzz—along with a fair amount of teeth-gnashing—by posting items on Facebook and distributing early copies to favored media outlets, including The Daily Beast.