Sheila Weller's book The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV isn't even out yet and it's being used by media outlets to tear down the very women the book covers. This is especially rough to watch given that the point of the book is to explore how difficult it was for these women to become successes in the first place because of gossipy stories with headlines like "HATE-Y COURIC."
Capital New York draws our attention to a New York Daily News cover story from Sunday that alleges that Weller's new book includes many excerpts about what bitches Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer are. They've specifically focused on Couric, explaining that the issues she's having with her Yahoo web video series is just history repeating herself, given the trouble she had when she moved over to CBS as a nightly news host. Gossip they're focused on: that Couric compared herself to Hillary Clinton, received a great deal of resentment because of her high paycheck and was generally a bitch at CBS:
Her personality didn't win her any friends. Former CBS staffers told Weller that Couric was unfriendly and abrasive.
"Katie can put on a charm offensive if she wants to," the book says. "But really, she doesn't give a s—- about you only as much as it affected her."
Instead of taking on the "real work" associated with being a managing editor, the book says, "Katie was out doing other things."
"She was being a star," Weller wrote.
Couric is not the only one who takes a beating in Weller's book.
Weller described how Sawyer made life miserable for overnight staffers at ABC News, frequently calling in at 1 a.m. and demanding that different stories be covered.
The staffers were reluctant to hire freelance producers across the globe, knowing the segments would likely never air.
But they did it anyway, the book says.
"If you didn't do it, and she found out you didn't do it, she would triple your agony for the next few weeks by calling in at one a.m. more often, wanting more stories, checking back to make sure you were working on them," the book says.
Weller's book doesn't come out until September, but for fans of her last book, Girls Like Us – a fair, informative, enjoyable and well-crafted look at the careers of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon (If you can't tell, I loved it) – it might seem strange that her new one would be a gossip fest about how bitchy Couric and Sawyer are. That's because, according to Weller, it isn't. These excerpts via the Daily News are just part of the larger stories of these women, who, for all their faults, are "three remarkable women who revolutionized television broadcast news," according to the book blurb.
"For anyone who saw the kinda awful cover of the New York Daily News today (a paper I normally like — they are VERY strong on gun control), please understand that that hideous picture of Katie Couric and that mean headline does NOT represent by forthcoming (late Sept.) book," Weller wrote on Facebook, before posting a more thorough description of her book:
For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism, until finally three—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour—broke through, definitively remaking America's nightly news. Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, bestselling author Sheila Weller crafts a lively and eye-opening narrative, revealing the combination of ambition, skill, and character that enabled these three singular women to infiltrate the once impenetrable "boys club" and become cultural icons.
The News Sorority takes us behind the scenes as never before to track Sawyer's, Couric's, and Amanpour's ascendance to the highest ranks of the media elite, showing that the compelling desire to report the news—a drive born of curiosity, empathy, and humanity—must be matched by guts, awesome competitive fervor, and rare strategic savvy.
Lisa DePaulo, a friend of Weller's and freelance writer responded to Weller, writing that, "The weirdest thing about the NYDN story is that it really just enforces the argument Sheila Weller makes in her book (or at least the parts I was lucky enough to read): that there is a HUGE double standard and women are evaluated not for their total contributions or intelligence or experience but by headlines like 'Hatey Couric.'" Weller herself added a comment about how impressed she has been with Couric's lengthy career.
If anything, this development makes me want to read the book even more, in that I didn't know it existed before and it sounds great. Congrats to Weller, if not Couric (or Sawyer).
Images via Sheila Weller/Facebook and the New York Daily News