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A forthcoming book on America’s most visible newswomen — Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour — is full of juicy revelations and snarky comments from and about them by their co-workers and competitors.
The News Sorority by Sheila Weller, an author (Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation) and journalist, traces the careers of these three women who, according to the dust jacket, “battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism, until finally [they] broke through, definitively remaking America’s nightly news.”
Among the surprising stories is Katie Couric’s response to Diane Sawyer landing a much-sought-after 2004 interview with the 56-year-old woman (she was three days short of 57) who gave birth to twins: “I wonder who she blew this time to get it.”
A rep for Couric declined to comment on the allegation, but a source close to the global anchor for Yahoo News said this, “It’s sad that the author and her PR team continue to alienate their target audience by relying on classic anti-feminist caricatures, tabloid-like misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about these three extraordinary women. Thankfully all three of them have survived and thrived after dealing with far worse than a couple of gossip items.”
Also getting attention is Don Hewitt‘s justification for elevating Sawyer to a prestigious anchor slot on 60 Minutes: “You gotta understand — the guys who own and run the networks all have the shiksa disease.”
Aside from the eye-catching comments, the book goes into detail about Couric’s rise and the importance of her professional partnership with Jeff Zucker (the book is a reminder that at one point Zucker, who had a rocky tenure as the head of NBCUniversal, was a brilliant news producer). Weller also recounts Couric’s sometimes volatile marriage to Jay Monahan and recalls in moving detail his tragic 1998 death from pancreatic cancer and how Couric coped with being a young widow with two small children.
Sawyer’s Louisville childhood and job working for the Nixon White House is covered, as well as Dan Rather‘s famous advice to CBS News president Bill Small not to hire her.
Weller also looks at Sawyer’s feuds with colleagues, including — famously — Barbara Walters and Sam Donaldson, and how she snatched the anchor chair from Charlie Gibson.
The book charts Amanpour’s awkward rise in the ’80s. Her friend, CNN New York bureau chief Liza McGuirk, put her on during the weekends to give her experience, figuring her bosses in Atlanta — who didn’t think much of Amanpour — probably weren’t watching on Saturday or Sundays.
It also covers her globetrotting war correspondent days (including numerous battlefield romances with other journalists) and her competition with Fareed Zakaria for who would be the face of international coverage at the network.
Weller interviewed scores of people for the book but not Couric, Amanpour or Sawyer. Former ABC News president David Westin told the Daily Beast the revelations were “ancient history.”
The New Sorority goes on sale Sept. 30.
Aug. 27, 5:05 p.m. The story was updated with a “no comment” from Couric’s rep and a comment from a source close to Couric.
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