The Unsinkable Katie Couric

Her life has been defined by enviable opportunities heart-wrenching tragedies. As Couric tackles her daytime talk show, Katie, she opens up about regrets, resilience and romance after 50

by Amanda Robb
katie couric image
Photograph: Peggy Sirota

In a way, Couric seems to be weathering all this midlife change by opening up more than ever to her audience. On a September show about eating disorders, she revealed for the first time that in her twenties she struggled with bulimia. “I [was] asking people to reveal their innermost feelings about [this issue], and I actually know about it. I have had this issue; my sister Emily, who passed away, had this issue. So I thought, This is the time. I tried to do it in a way that wasn’t, ‘I had bulimia!’ But just ‘I had bulimia, and I know this mind game that goes on where if you don’t adhere to this strict calorie restriction, it makes you feel really bad about yourself, and this vicious cycle kicks in.’ ” Her revelation was picked up by People, Us and Celebuzz. “I had no idea it would be a big bulletin,” Couric says. “But I think it got traction because in a way people see me as somebody who has her shit together.”

Certainly, that’s part of her appeal. Many journalists display a whiff of condescension toward the people they probe, but for all her success, wealth and fame, Couric just wants to talk. She so obviously believes in story—her guests’, her own, even her daughters’. Though she protects the girls’ privacy, she encourages them to share what presses on their hearts. “There are moments where I crumble at the thought of my father, often unexpectedly,” Ellie Monahan, now 21 and a senior at Yale, wrote last year for the Huffington Post. “I dread the annual father-daughter dance both in grade school and now in my sorority, a tradition my mother tried to abolish on behalf of all the fatherless daughters in my school . . . to no avail. One year I asked my mom if Brad Pitt could be a stand-in . . . Matt Lauer was a distant second. I ultimately decided to stay home.”

So there it is. Rather than reporting storms from a newsroom, Couric weathers them, trying to figure out how and why we survive. After a late-afternoon meeting, she pulls her producer aside and says, “Get me out there!”—to the floods, the downed electrical lines, the blackouts. Couric knows she will be knee-deep in suffering. But that’s where Couric’s stories are. That is where her heart is.

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