Katie Couric’s mean girl antics go further even than what she’s revealed in her upcoming scorched earth memoir.
An insider has come forward to share the full extent to which Couric, 64, humiliated colleague Ashleigh Banfield at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
“It was such a disappointing scene,” an NBC insider told the Daily Mail of the former “Today” host’s behavior toward Banfield, 53, at the time. “Katie Couric caused that problem in Sydney and she used it to trash Ashleigh Banfield within the network. It was disgraceful.”
Both newswomen had booked interviews with Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Michael Johnson — Banfield for NBC “Nightly News” in place of anchor Tom Brokaw and Couric for “Today.” While Couric did her interview, though, she made Banfield wait outside, and then continue waiting while Couric’s then-9-year-old daughter interviewed Johnson for her school paper.
Indeed, Couric reportedly made sure Banfield was uncomfortable from the moment she arrived on set, having one of her producers greet her by yelling, “You aren’t supposed to be in here” (“spit was flying everywhere,” the insider added) before instructing her to sit outside, while letting a production assistant into the studio. “I hope it wasn’t too mean having her kicked out of here. Hehehehe,” Couric reportedly laughed from inside the studio, before announcing: “I think Michael [Johnson] has another interview to do before he leaves, but before he does that, my daughter Ellie needs to interview him first for a school paper.”
When Banfield finally did get a chance to interview Johnson, her interview was cut short due to her breaching an unwritten agreement not to ask Johnson about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. (The Olympian would later give back his gold medal for the Sydney relay race after admitting his teammate — although not he — had indeed used steroids.)
“Eww that was awkward Ashleigh. Eww. Awkward,” Couric told Banfield as she left the set.
In response to the Daily Mail’s request for comment on the matter, Banfield declined to bash Couric. “I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but Sydney certainly was a professional challenge for me,” she responded instead.
In “Going There,” Couric’s upcoming bombshell memoir, she talks about Sydney without mention of Banfield.
“How could I not bring the girls to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sydney, Athens? They met gold medalists; Ellie interviewed sprinter Michael Johnson for a school paper, and he autographed one of his gold running shoes for her,” she writes in the book, out later this month.