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Katie Couric: Now I Needed To Be the Girlfriend Next Door

Jamie Stiehm on

Katie Couric's new bestselling memoir, "Going There," proves critics right. Shedding her skin as a sweet, smiling -- if shallow -- public figure, now she's the second coming of Katie Scarlett O'Hara, with threads, leather and beaux to boot.

Parallels dazzle, even if Couric led a conga line, not the Virginia reel, to mark her first time anchoring the CBS Evening News. In every big scene on 510 pages, she tells readers what she was wearing. On a history-breaking day, following Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite, she broke a rule: she wore a white jacket after Labor Day.

Smelling salts!

In Couric's personal life, she's surrounded like Scarlett at the Twelve Oaks barbecue -- "my thick dating portfolio" -- yet had her own button-downed Ashley Wilkes. Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner broke up with her by email and FedEx. Bummer.

As a younger journalist whose first job was at CBS News London, I read with insider curiosity. I knew Jeff Fager, later the CBS News chairman and villain of the piece. The producer was all American ambition in his office overlooking green Hyde Park.

Fager just wasn't charmed by Couric, one of the few men in this tale who can say that. For that, he's a "self-satisfied schmuck."

 

CBS News was a high-minded place with pictures of Edward R. Murrow in London. At NBC News, meanwhile, Tim Russert gave Couric her first break, he who gave us Chuck Todd.

Finding inspiration in "Gone With the Wind" is no whim. Scarlett was a major (fallen) figure in American literature. We girls had few females to look up to past the age of Nancy Drew or Jo March.

Scarlett's feisty, green-eyed Southern womanhood was an apt role model for Couric climbing the networks' patriarchal pyramids, first as the adored co-anchor of NBC's "Today" show. Even with her office next to co-host Matt Lauer's at 30 Rock, Couric never witnessed ugly behavior, she claims, before his fall for sexual harassment.

So much for her reporting skills during those sunny days -- or perhaps she possessed a shrewd political antenna.

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