Katie Couric is interviewed by Rebecca Traister for the April issue of Elle magazine. Unsurprisingly, given that Traister writes about women's issues for Salon, the interview touches on Couric's role as a single mother balancing work and family, and discusses claims that sexism plagued Couric's transition from the "Today" show to the "CBS Evening News." Couric also discusses her famous interview with Sarah Palin, for which she was recently honored with a Cronkite Award.
The full interview is available here at Elle.com, but some highlights are excerpted below:
Couric wonders if she set female cable news anchors down a dangerous path by showing her legs on the "Today" Show:
"I still think the overwhelming image of women is, 'Who looks better in this dress?' " Couric says, aware that she herself cuts a nice figure in a dress. "There is a lot of confusion for everybody. Are we supposed to be fetching? Are we supposed to be smart?" Occasionally she sees some of the high-gloss, high-hemlined anchors on cable news and thinks, "God, did I encourage this? Because sometimes I'd show my legs on the Today show."
Couric dismisses claims that sexism accounted for her rough treatment in the media during her transition to the evening anchor chair:
Couric is ice-pick sharp in her point that to talk about sexism is not to blame every misfortune or ratings dip on gender. "I'm not one of those people who says it's all sexism," she says. "I think there's a whole confluence of reasons this transition was hard for me."
Daughter Ellie describes Couric's parenting style — what to look for in boys, "Word of the Night," and "Euro" family dinners:
[17-year-old daughter Ellie] Monahan says that Couric has "always emphasized the importance of school comes first, and ever since I was five, has told me that when it comes to boys my priorities should go as follows: kindness, brains, then looks. She wants us to have a good sense of character, be sensitive to the needs of others, and take an active interest in the world around us."
Monahan says that the family plays "Word of the Night," in which everyone has to come to the table with a new word. She also reports that her mother "doesn't stop working on something until she's done as much research as possible and she has it down pat! I'll never forget the days spent studying side by side in her office...her for Election Night and me for my calculus test!" She does voice one complaint about her mother's evening gig: "I get hungry around 6 or so...so the shift to an eight o'clock dinner was tough," she writes. "Mom says it's very 'euro' though :)"
Couric talks about The Palin Interview, which Traister posits will probably lead her obituary:
"The truth of the matter," Couric says, "is that...an interview like that doesn't come around that often." It was, she says, "one of the most important interviews I've ever done." Yes, she continues, "I've done what I consider really good interviews with people like David Duke that I thought were ballsy and important, but [the Palin conversation] really did have an impact." And, she says, with the equanimity of someone who has been to the ninth circle of media hell...and hung out there for a couple of years, "I'm also appreciative that people at that moment in time respected my work."