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'Deborah Norville Tonight' for Dec. 16

Read the transcript to the 9 p.m. ET show

Guest: Katie Couric



KATIE COURIC, “TODAY” SHOW CO-HOST:  Outside studio 1-A, I‘m Katie Couric, along with Matt Lauer.


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  She‘s been waking up millions of Americans for the past 14 years...


COURIC:  And I guess this means you‘re stuck with me.

NORVILLE:  ... and she‘s not afraid to ask the tough questions.


COURIC:  Do you regret saying, you know, I‘m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man, like Tammy Wynette?

Are you going to stick around and talk with us?

Some people think that you‘re being an apologist.


NORVILLE:  Is it any wonder Katie Couric‘s earned the title of the highest paid woman in network news?  And now this early-to-bed parent of two is juggling her AM job with that of children‘s book author.  Tonight, the multi-task, multi-talented Katie Couric on the changing face of broadcast news, her personal, painful and very public crusade against a killer disease...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘ve reached the end of the colon.


NORVILLE:  ... and a fond look back at one of the most distinguished careers in television news.


COURIC:  God, I feel like my life just flashed before my eyes.


ANNOUNCER:  From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  And good evening.  Joining me tonight for the full hour, the co-anchor of the “TODAY” program, Katie Couric.  Hi.  Good to see you.

COURIC:  Thanks, Deborah.  Nice to be here.

NORVILLE:  How glad are you that Scott Peterson is over?

COURIC:  Well...

NORVILLE:  It just seems like it‘s an endless story.

COURIC:  It certainly was covered to death, which probably is a bad choice of words, and I think sometimes programs covered it when it didn‘t necessarily warrant coverage.  But it‘s obviously a big story, and people were very involved with the story.  I think they cared a great deal about this beautiful young girl with the gorgeous smile.

NORVILLE:  Do you think if she hadn‘t been so pretty, if she hadn‘t had that magnetic smile, people wouldn‘t have gravitated to it?

COURIC:  Well, I‘ve talked to friends about it because some people really resent the inordinate amount of coverage it got, and they say, you know, African-American women, Hispanic women are murdered all the time.  You know, pregnant women are actually murdered quite frequently in this country.  And certainly, those cases didn‘t get the attention the Scott Peterson case did.  But it was certainly compelling.  People cared about it.  But you do wonder about the judgment of doing it 24/7.

NORVILLE:  I heard one reporter this past weekend on ABC say that he did a head count and that there were more network correspondents covering the Peterson case than there are in Iraq.  If that‘s true, that says something that‘s a little troubling.

COURIC:  Well, it doesn‘t say very good things about our business.  And I think, certainly, it was very sensational.  And for whatever reason, I think people gravitate to stories about good and evil, and they were extremely interested in it.  I think Iraq is—I don‘t think you can necessarily compare those two stories, needless to say, and Iraq is a very, very difficult place to be for journalists...


COURIC:  ... as well as for our U.S. servicemen and women and people from all over the world, in fact.  But you know, we could get in a whole philosophical discussion about the news business and the priorities of the news business, but...

NORVILLE:  You remember after O.J., everybody felt like, in the news business, Gosh, we really went overboard on this case.  And literally, traffic stopped when the O.J. verdict came down.  And a lot of people in the business said, Well, we‘ll never go that overboard again.  And you know, maybe we did, maybe we didn‘t on the Peterson case.  But the idea that there are really important, substantive stories out there that don‘t get covered because the easy story, the murder case, is getting covered...

COURIC:  Well...

NORVILLE:  Are we missing things?

COURIC:  Of course.  I mean, I think part of it is the need to—part of it is, I think, that there‘s a lemming-like quality to people in the news business, particularly television journalists.


COURIC:  Here we‘re on, like, MSNBC, trashing our profession!  And I think...

NORVILLE:  No, I don‘t think we‘re trashing our profession...


NORVILLE:  ... but I think it‘s—you know, it‘s important, I think, that people know that we have these discussions...


NORVILLE:  ... when we‘re not on TV.  We really do worry about this.

COURIC:  Definitely.  And concerns.  But there are a whole confluence of events that sometimes create an atmosphere where too much attention is placed on one story.  One is limited resources, lack of creativity in covering stories and choosing stories.  Some stories are more telegenic, if you will, than others...


COURIC:  ... and easier to convey to an audience on television.  Complicated stories are tough, and I think there‘s a concern that—you know, that people will get bored.  But Social Security reform—there are all sorts of extremely important issues that are facing this country.  And I think that...

NORVILLE:  What do you worry...

COURIC:  ... sometimes there‘s a lack of courage...

NORVILLE:  ... that‘s getting...

COURIC:  ... because I think people don‘t want to ignore stories because they‘re afraid that people will turn other places to get their fix, if you will.


COURIC:  So I think it‘s a problem, but I think it‘s something we have to be mindful of, and we always have to push ourselves and say, What are some of the more compelling stories that really affect many more people than the Scott Peterson murder case?  And that‘s not to take anything away from this tragedy because I know the Rochas, and I think the Peterson family, obviously, is going through a terrible situation.  But I also think that people like whodunnut stories and they like to figure out what happened.  And it‘s kind of a potboiler in real life, and some of these stories really can be very, very compelling.  I think it‘s all a question of balance.

NORVILLE:  Well, it‘s also that truth the stranger than fiction.

COURIC:  Right.

NORVILLE:  And you know, it‘s one thing to pick up a book at the book store and read about a story that someone has made up...

COURIC:  Well, like...

NORVILLE:  ... but when you see it played out...


COURIC:  ... out in the Hamptons—you know, very, very wealthy man, a murderer, an affair.  You know, it has a lot of the things from the seamier side of life that I think people find fascinating.

NORVILLE:  You know what I think is interesting is when you look at what the big gets are—you mentioned the Rochas and you spoke with Sharon Rocha at one point during the very sad trial that her family and the Petersons had to go through.  What‘s involved in getting the get?  It seems like lately, the big names are always people who seem to somehow have had a connection to a story that there‘s a negative side to, whether they committed a crime, they were the unwitting victim of the crime, there‘s always this negative end somewhere in connection to it.

COURIC:  Well, oftentimes, I think that‘s true, but not always.  You know, I would like to talk with General Powell right now, secretary of state Colin Powell.  And some of those stories are more interesting to me...


COURIC:  ... than some of the big, splashy, sensational headlines.  So you‘re right, I think that they‘re very interesting, and certainly, people who are involved in these cases who haven‘t had the ability to talk and speak openly and publicly, people are still fascinated with them.  And I think you kind of have to catch the wave when interest in a particular story...


COURIC:  ... is so intense because, you know, down the road, people, many viewers, and frankly, those who cover the news, will have moved on to another story.

NORVILLE:  Well, just a few weeks ago, you spoke with Elizabeth Edwards, and she had just begun her cancer treatment.  And one of the things you asked her about was the fact that she had gone four years without a mammogram.  Here‘s a segment of that interview.


COURIC:  But I‘m just curious why you didn‘t get yearly mammograms.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF SEN. JOHN EDWARDS:  Well, partly—you know, partly, we moved up here.  We moved to Washington.  So you get out of the rhythm of things.  And that‘s—but it‘s not an excuse.  One of the great things that has happened is that people are now doing some of the things that I failed to do.  They‘re heeding the lesson of, you know, my negligence about my own health and taking it into their own hands to do something.


NORVILLE:  When you do an interview like that, how important is it to you personally that an education component come through?

COURIC:  Oh, it‘s absolutely critical.  That‘s one of the reasons I was so appreciative that Elizabeth Edwards was speaking out publicly because, you know, we have such a wonderful opportunity to educate and enlighten people and to talk with them about health issues, for example.


COURIC:  And I just thought—she‘s an incredibly intelligent, compelling person, and I think hers is a bit of cautionary tale for people and for women who don‘t get checked, who don‘t have yearly mammograms.  And so that was really a key part, a key part for her willingness to do it, as well as my desire to interview her.

NORVILLE:  Learn from my story and use the “TODAY” show as one way of getting the message out.

It‘s not just the “TODAY” show that Katie uses to get messages out.  She‘s also got a new book out.  We‘re going to take a short break.  When we come back, we‘ll look at Katie Couric‘s new book, her latest children‘s book, right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, let‘s do some of your stuff.  Here, I‘ll show you what you do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I taught my kids this.

COURIC:  So are you trusting me with this?  I‘m not sure you should!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now, just relax.  Let it go through your hand.

COURIC:  Careful, careful.  I really don‘t want to be responsible for mutilating you in any way, shape or form!




MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “TODAY”:  Good morning.  Welcome to “TODAY” on a Thursday morning.  I‘m Matt Lauer.

COURIC:  And I‘m Katie Couric.  The identity of the speaker hasn‘t been confirmed, although apparently, the voice sounds like that of the al Qaeda leader.  The speaker talks about the terror attack in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.  We‘ll have much more...


NORVILLE:  Back talking with Katie Couric.  She‘s the co-anchor of the “TODAY” program.  She is also a children‘s author.  She has a new kids‘ book out.  It‘s called “The Blue Ribbon Day.”  It is her second book.  And the main characters are two little girls named Ellie (ph) and Carrie (ph).

COURIC:  Isn‘t that a coincidence?

NORVILLE:  How coincidental!


NORVILLE:  How excited were your girls when they saw their names in Mommy‘s book?

COURIC:  They were excited.  Ellie didn‘t like the fact that her character, the illustration of her character has curly hair, which is the bane of her existence.


COURIC:  You know, it‘s all about hair...

NORVILLE:  It‘s all about hair.

COURIC:  ... no matter how old you are.  And—but I think they got a kick out of it.  And I think they‘ve enjoyed it.  Carrie, my 8-year-old, liked bringing it to school and giving it to her teacher.  And so it‘s been a fun thing, and it‘s just been a nice little kind of hobby for me on the side.  And the illustrator, Marjorie Priceman (ph), I think is so talented.  And I love writing little poems and little ditties.  My dad calls it doggerel, not poetry.

And so I think after Jay died, I just sort of started playing around with the first book, which was called “The Brand-New Kid,” because I think there are wonderful, wonderful children‘s books out there, and certainly, you know, the whole celebrity author craze...


COURIC:  I‘m kind of embarrassed to be a part of that.  But this was sort of before it became so huge.  And I just thought I want to teach my kids the importance of inclusion and really reaching out and not being a part of a clique and not making kids feel ostracized.

NORVILLE:  This book is—the first one was about the new kid in school...

COURIC:  Right.

NORVILLE:  ... and the adventures and troubles that that can be for the new kid.  This one is about the little kid who really wanted to be on the soccer team.

COURIC:  Right.

NORVILLE:  And she‘s just the klutz of the world.  She doesn‘t make it.  But it turns out she has another talent.

COURIC:  Right.  Right.

NORVILLE:  And there‘s an obvious message there.

COURIC:  I think I was struck by—you know, I interview so many child experts and parenting experts, and I think our generation of parents really don‘t want to disappoint their children.  They don‘t want them to fail at anything, and they want them to be great at everything they attempt.

NORVILLE:  But they need to fail...

COURIC:  And I think a result of—yes.

NORVILLE:  ... to learn a little bit.

COURIC:  They don‘t have some important life lessons early on.  So this was my attempt to kind of say to parents and to kids, It‘s OK if you‘re not good at everything, and you‘re not going to be.  And that‘s OK because, ultimately, you‘ll find what you‘re good at and you‘ll be able to celebrate not only your own talents and skills and passions, but you‘ll also be able to celebrate the talents of others.

NORVILLE:  Do you remember a time when you were a kid when, I don‘t know, you tried out for cheerleading or, you know, you tried out for something, you went for something, it didn‘t happen?  Do you remember what your mom said when she was trying to make you feel better?

COURIC:  Oh, you know, I was one of the kids, unfortunately, that—that—Jane used to say I was born on a sunny day.  And usually, things worked out pretty well for me.

NORVILLE:  You made every team you tried out for?

COURIC:  Well, I don‘t think I tried out for that many.  I didn‘t make the school musical.  Of course, I wanted to be the lead, but I forgot the fact that I can‘t really sing, and they cast me initially as a deaf-mute, which was devastating for me, as you can imagine.


COURIC:  But I think...

NORVILLE:  It‘s better than being the bush on the side!

COURIC:  Yes, that‘s true.  But I think my parents gave me so much confidence and—that I sort of accepted it with equanimity.  And I do remember, though, not being picked as captain of the cheerleading team, which sounds so shallow right now, but—the gym teachers had—the gym teachers picked the captain.

NORVILLE:  Hey, at least you made the team.  Some of us were gravity-challenged and couldn‘t even get off the ground!


COURIC:  The gym teacher picked, instead of letting the girls pick, and that sort of assaulted—was an affront to my basic sense of fairness.  And I was actually quite devastated and I came home just completely in tears.  And I think my mom called another cheerleader, and she thought it was unfair, too.  But you know, we were upset about it, but then we moved on...

NORVILLE:  What are you going to do, though?

COURIC:  ... you know what I mean?  But I also think that was an important lesson for me that life is not always fair, that sometimes things happen and there‘s not anything you can necessarily do about it.  But how you deal with the failure and disappointment and move forward...


COURIC:  ... is the most important thing.  I feel embarrassed that I‘m talking about a cheerleading captain situation!

NORVILLE:  Hey, you know what?  Well, we‘ve all had our life moments, and we know you‘ve had far more difficult moments than that.  But one of the cool things about doing what you do on TV is not only do you get to write books and you get to go on TV to talk about it, but you had a really fun experience this summer when you were swimming with the fishes...

COURIC:  That‘s right.

NORVILLE:  ... in “The Shark Tale.”

COURIC:  So to speak.

NORVILLE:  What was your character‘s name?  Katie Current (ph)!

COURIC:  Current.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Current.  Yes, I played a reporter fish.  Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s a friend of mine, and he asked me if I wanted to play a part in this.  And I thought, Gosh, this would be so much fun.  I had never done anything like this, and so I said, Great...

NORVILLE:  Tell us what the process...

COURIC:  ... I‘ll do it.

NORVILLE:  ... is like.  I mean, there you are.  You‘re obviously doing the voiceover.

COURIC:  Yes, and...


NORVILLE:  What‘s going on there?

COURIC:  Basically, you just—you just read the script.  And it‘s interesting.  I guess people know this by now because there have been enough behind-the-scenes...


COURIC:  ... pieces on these animated features, but you‘re not necessarily working with a whole group of actors around a table.  I was hoping, you know, that Will Smith and I could have a little fun together, but obviously, we couldn‘t.  But—so you basically just read the script.  The producers and the directors read the other lines, and...

NORVILLE:   Do you see the cartoon?  Do you see the cartoon image of you?

COURIC:  They showed me the image of me, and they basically kind of all work together to make the pictures go with your voice.  So they get the track, the audio track first, and then they...

NORVILLE:  They make the pictures match.

COURIC:  Right.  Right.  They make you speak.  I mean, it‘s a very, very complicated technical process that I don‘t truly understand.

NORVILLE:  But it had to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for your kids to go to the movies and—I mean, it‘s one thing to turn on the TV and Mom‘s there while they‘re having their cereal in the morning.  This is kind of cool, to go see Mom on the big screen.

COURIC:  No, I think they got a kick out of it.  But it‘s funny, you know? They‘re really normal kids, and I think they thought it was fun.  But they‘re so used to my being on television and having these experiences, and I think they enjoy them, but I really try to keep things in perspective for them and focus on them and, you know, not make them feel so different from other kids because I happen to be on television.  So in a way, there—you know, there‘s a sense of ennui about a lot of things I do with my children.

NORVILLE:  One of the things that I try to consciously do is not take my kids to a lot of the media events when the paparazzi...

COURIC:  Right.

NORVILLE:  ... will be there.  Do you try to shield your kids from those...

COURIC:  I do.

NORVILLE:  ... kinds of things?

COURIC:  I do because it is hard enough to be a kid today, whether you‘re on television—whether your parent is on television or not.  And I definitely try to do that.  I know Jane Pauley is very protective of her children, and I use Jane as a role model for that.  And if I do go to a premiere, which I rarely do—but let‘s say I need to go see a movie, I always have a friend of mine walk in with my kids because I don‘t want them to start seeing themselves in tabloids and magazines and the like.  So I really do try to shield them.

Having said that, I‘m going to sound like a hypocrite because...

NORVILLE:  What‘d you take them to?

COURIC:  ... they‘re writing—well, they‘re writing an article about me in “Vogue” in March.  And Patrick de Marchallier (ph) is a wonderful photographer, and I bent the rules a little and said that he could take a picture of the three of us, really selfishly because I needed something for my Christmas card, but—so they might make an appearance...

NORVILLE:  Why the hesitation?

COURIC:  ... there.

NORVILLE:  Why the hesitation?  I mean, they‘re older now.  They...

COURIC:  Yes, well...

NORVILLE:  They would be able to say, Mommy, I really don‘t want to do this.  It‘s not like they‘re 3 years old and...

COURIC:  No, no, no.  That‘s true.  But you know, I just don‘t want them to think they‘re all that and a bag of chips and, you know, extra special because they‘re in a magazine.  And Ellie was asked to do an article for “Teen Vogue,” and of course, she would really have liked that.  But I thought, you know...

NORVILLE:  Mom said no.

COURIC:  I just thought, I don‘t think that‘s a good idea right now. 

I‘d rather her focus on her studies and...

NORVILLE:  Do you think generally that parents worry more—forget about being a TV parent, just a parent today—worry more about their kids...

COURIC:  Oh, yes.

NORVILLE:  ... than we did, you know, our parents did when we were growing up?

COURIC:  Well, I think the culture is so much more difficult in terms of raising children who are more innocent.  I mean, we could get into a whole riff on this in terms of the images that they see everywhere, I mean, the ubiquitous sexuality in popular culture, whether it‘s, you know, billboards of Calvin Klein underwear with the girl with her hand down the boy‘s boxer shorts...


COURIC:  ... and you know, MTV, which I think really has a lot of videos that objectify...

NORVILLE:  DO you let your children...

COURIC:  ... women.

NORVILLE:  ... watch television?

COURIC:  They do watch some television.  Ellie loves ZOC (ph).  And some of it I‘m uncomfortable with because it is quite sexual.  I try to watch it with her.  It‘s kind of her little...

NORVILLE:  Guilty pleasure?

COURIC:  ... weekly activity that she does with a girl who lives in our building.  And you know, it‘s hard.  I think you try to find the right balance.  I don‘t want her to be completely shielded and—but, yes, I wrestle with it.  I don‘t like them watching MTV particularly.  I think once in a while, they watch “The Real World,” but they don‘t watch a ton of television.  A little.

NORVILLE:  A little.

COURIC:  Spongebob is big in our house.

NORVILLE:  Spongebob‘s big in every house!

Take a short break.  More with Katie Couric in a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, Katie, why don‘t you try and throw him?

COURIC:  OK.UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is she supposed to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You‘re going to turn your hips all the way through, and on the count of three, I‘m going to go over.  One, two, three!





COURIC:  Dr. Forrest (ph).  I know...


COURIC:  ... I‘m very chipper considering...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re still smiling.

COURIC:  ... what you‘re about to do to me.  How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How‘d the preparation go?

COURIC:  It went fine.  I feel clean as a whistle.


NORVILLE:  There is something medical professionals call about called “the Couric effect,” and it all has to do when one woman on television took cameras places that cameras had never been before.  And it was for a very, very special reason.

Colorectal cancer is not only your cause but your passion.  And it must be incredible to see how much more awareness there is about this disease that took your husband.

COURIC:  Yes, it‘s really so gratifying for me that people are paying attention to this disease, that they‘re talking about it, that they‘re discussing it with their friends and families and loved ones and they‘re taking action and they‘re getting screened because unlike a lot of cancers, this really can be nipped in the bud, so to speak, and prevented.  It has a better than 90 percent cure rate if it‘s detected early.  And you know, 56,000 people are killed every single year.

NORVILLE:  And it is the second leading...

COURIC:  Cancer killer.

NORVILLE:  ... cause of cancer death.

COURIC:  Of men and women in this country, following lung cancer.  And 80 percent of all lung cancers would be eradicated if people stopped smoking.  So it‘s one of those things.  And you don‘t necessarily have to have a family history.  The majority of cases have no family history.

And I just think it‘s wonderful that people are paying attention.  You know, the health care system is challenging now with managed care, and you really have to be your own advocate.  And the notion that I‘m actually getting through and I can measure the impact or it can be measured...


COURIC:  It‘s just a wonderful thing.  I think it‘s been wonderful in terms of the lives saved.  It‘s been a wonderful example for my girls in terms of trying to do something to better society, even if something terrible happens to you.  And you know, I think it‘s a real source of pride for all of us.

NORVILLE:  Your husband was 42, Jay Monahan, when he passed away from colon cancer.  Was there any family history that—oh, my gosh, look how young you guys are!



NORVILLE:  Was there a family history in Jay‘s background?

COURIC:  No, there wasn‘t.  Jay‘s mom died of ovarian cancer and his grandmother had beast cancer, and some of these glandular cancers, they seem to be connected, at least anecdotally.  I don‘t know if real...


COURIC:  ... hard-core research has been done.  But certainly, you have a greater chance of getting colorectal cancer if you have these other cancers in your family.  So no family history.  It was a complete and utter shock.

NORVILLE:  And yet, when you look at what the medical community is doing and what insurance is doing—because so much of it is dependent on, if insurance will pay for the tests, people are more apt to get the tests.

COURIC:  Right.

NORVILLE:  Even now, insurance rarely pays automatically prior to age 50.

COURIC:  That‘s right.  Well...

NORVILLE:  That was way too late in your family‘s case.

COURIC:  Right.  Right. 

Well, I think now many states are taking matters into their own hands.  And there are a handful of states which—started by my sister Emily, who passed away of pancreatic cancer.  It‘s just been a very, very bad decade for my family.  She introduced legislation in Virginia that required insurance companies to pay for screening colonoscopies.  And after that, many—a handful of other states followed suit. 

So, there‘s mandatory insurance coverage for screening colonoscopies in the state of Virginia and, as I said, in a few other states as well.  And we‘re trying to get more states to comply. 

NORVILLE:  And the reason being, if you have a colonoscopy and doctors find a polyps, all colon cancers start as polyps, but not all polyps result in cancer. 

COURIC:  That‘s right.  No, but you never know which will.

And a benign polyp could be a cancerous polyp.  And there‘s just no way of predicting.  So the best solution is to remove the polyp on the off chance that it could become a cancerous tumor, go through the colon wall into the lymph nodes and then become systemic disease and metastasize in distant organs, as it was in Jay‘s case, because had tumors all over his liver when he was diagnosed.  And had he gotten a colonoscopy earlier, although certainly...

NORVILLE:  Do you know how much earlier? 


COURIC:  Well, it was a very slow growing cancer.  And colon cancers take years to develop.  That‘s why screening is so critical. 

And it‘s hard to say.  Jay always had sort of a sour stomach.  I remember our first date he had Tums.  I don‘t know whether it was me or his stomach.  But he never had serious symptoms either.  He had last weight and he was quite tired.  But he was a legal analyst for MSNBC.

NORVILLE:  He was buys working.

COURIC:  And he was covering the Timothy McVeigh trial and the O.J.  Simpson civil trial.  And I remember him saying, I just don‘t feel good.  I know I will feel better when the weather is warmer—gets warmer.

And like so many men, he didn‘t have a primary care physician.  He didn‘t have a G.P. or an internist that he went to for yearly checkups.  And, of course, I‘m furious at myself for not insisting on that.  But, as Edwards said, we all have busy lives and sometimes we forget to take care of the most important thing of all, our health. 

NORVILLE:  Why is why you did such a dramatic thing in having your colonoscopy filmed and putting it on “The Today Show.”  And we should note that it went on to win a Peabody, which is sort of the Oscar of television reporting.  It‘s really not that bad a deal.  The worst thing about the colonoscopy is the goop you have to take to close your.... 


COURIC:  And I always say, think of it as a colonic.  And you lose a couple of pounds.  That will always get women in there.

And women, by the way, Deborah, are diagnosed as often as men.  And that‘s a point that we have been trying to get across.  Some women think, oh, it‘s a man‘s disease.  And, for that matter, it‘s an older man‘s disease.  But women are diagnosed and die as frequently as men from this disease.  So it‘s absolutely critically important that they get screened and get the other women in their lives screened, as well as, of course, the men in their lives. 

NORVILLE:  You mentioned being a role model for your daughters in spearheading this effort and encouraging people to take charge of their medical health.  What do your girls say to you about the Jay Center?  Do they call it the daddy center??

COURIC:  Well, no, no.  They call it the Monahan Center.  And they‘re proud Monahans themselves.

Sort of out of the blue when Ellie was 9, she said, mommy, I‘m so proud of the work you have done with colon cancer.  It was completely spontaneous.  And I‘ve just seen how they have grown as children.  Carrie always has bake sales to raise money for colon cancer. 

Ellie at camp, her first year at sleepaway camp wrote a letter to Mr.  and Mrs. Jay Monahan a few years after Jay had died.  She was embarrassed to be different.  So that was heartbreaking for me to get in the mail.  But the next year, her camp gives money to charity.  They forgo desserts for a week.  And Ellie stood up and said to the whole entire camp, my dad died of colon cancer.  And my mom has started this effort.  And the head of the camp wrote me and said there‘s wasn‘t a dry eye in the house.

And all the camp voted to then give money to the Monahan Center.  So, I think it‘s creating sort of a spirit of philanthropy and caring about others in my kids and also a spirit of moving forward and taking what life deals you and trying to turn something positive from it. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

Well, great things are happening there.  We know over 5,000 people have been treated at the Jay Monahan Center. 

COURIC:  It‘s a fantastic place.  And the doctors and all the people involved, they‘re the kind of people you want to into the medical profession. 

NORVILLE:  All right. 

We‘ll take a short break.  When we come back, more with Katie Couric, including a look back at her career on “The Today Show.” 

COURIC:  Oh, no.  Hairstyles. 

NORVILLE:  Hairstyles yet to come.


COURIC (singing):  My bags are packed.  I‘m ready to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s not get into that. 

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  What city did “Self” magazine name the happiest place to live? 

COURIC:  Wherever you are. 

LAUER:  Oh, go ahead!



NORVILLE:  Katie Couric is coming up on 14 years as co-anchor of NBC‘s “Today” program.  It‘s but one of the many hat she wears.

More with Katie Couric after this.



COURIC:  You all have been married 23 years, right? 

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY:  That‘s right, 23 years. 

COURIC:  And people might be surprised that, before you met him, you were a Democrat.  I was surprised.

L. BUSH:  That‘s right.  I became a Republican by marriage. 



NORVILLE:  Back talking with Katie Couric.  She is of course the co-anchor of the “Today” program, has been for 14 years. 

COURIC:  I can‘t believe it.

NORVILLE:  I know.  Don‘t you date it by how old your kid is? 

COURIC:  Sometimes. 


COURIC:  Sometimes, I just think, gosh, how many years have I been doing this and when did I start this job?  And I just can‘t even believe it.  It makes me feel so old. 

NORVILLE:  And that‘s now longer than Jane Pauley, right? 

COURIC:  And then people say, we have been watching you for decades. 

NORVILLE:  Don‘t you hate them?


COURIC:  Yes.  I hate that. 

NORVILLE:  TV hasn‘t been around that long.

COURIC:  I‘ve been watching you ever since I was in first grade.  I‘m like, oh.

NORVILLE:  I know.  And you started the show after replacing someone else. 

COURIC:  Vous. 

NORVILLE:  Vous.  Moi.  Yes. 

COURIC:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And we have got some tape of your very first day on “The Today Show” which was April 5, 12991. 

COURIC:  I was pregnant.  I had just thrown up that morning and I looked really scary. 

NORVILLE:  But before we show that, we‘re going to show you the last day of the woman you succeeded.  So this is, what, February something 1991. 


BRYANT GUMBEL, CO-HOST:  So this is the last day. 

NORVILLE:  Today‘s my last day, yes.  And baby‘s due March the 6th

I just wanted to say, people have been so wonderful.  A lady made this and this is just like one of so many things that people have sent me, little booties, a little sweater and hat.  And I just want to say thank you to all the people who have been so wonderful about writing and wishing me well, and me and Karl and the baby.  And it really means a lot to get something like this.  And there‘s a lot of special people out there.  So I have sent thank-you notes, but this is a blanket thank you to everybody, because you‘ve really been wonderful.

GUMBEL:  OK.  Good luck.  Take care.


GUMBEL:  We‘ve got to get out of here.  That does it for us on this day.  Have a great weekend.  We‘ll see you Monday.

NORVILLE:  See you in a couple months.


NORVILLE:  I was so bloated.  I couldn‘t—did you hear my voice?  I was so...

COURIC:  You looked beautiful.  You could never look bad. 


NORVILLE:  I looked like—remember Charlie Brown, the great pumpkin? 

That was it.  We found it, just big orange like Jabba the Hutt there. 

COURIC:  Well, very few women look good that pregnant, Deborah.  But I wouldn‘t worry about it.

NORVILLE:  But you know what?  We think that we do.  That‘s the real thing about hormones.  You are deluded into thinking that you actually should be seen in public when you‘re that ginormous. 

COURIC:  Well, you know, wasn‘t there a time when women on television had to hide their pregnancy and they wouldn‘t be caught dead?


NORVILLE:  The desk would be up like this.

COURIC:  The executives allowing them to actually show that they‘re pregnant.  So we have come a little bit, anyway. 

NORVILLE:  And you were expecting when you replaced me on “The Today Show.” 

COURIC:  That‘s right.  I was four months pregnant with Ellie.

NORVILLE:  With Ellie.

COURIC:  And that was an interesting time for both of us and certainly a transition for both of us. 

NORVILLE:  What was it like for you? 

COURIC:  I‘ve always said this, and I‘m just going to say it quickly, how much I admired you during those months, because it was a tough time.  Things weren‘t great at the show. 

And you conducted yourself with such grace, such grace and dignity.  And you were always so kind and wonderful and did a magnificent job, by the way, too.  So, I always really felt that. 

NORVILLE:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

COURIC:  And every chance I‘ve gotten, I‘ve always wanted—I always have said it, but I‘ve never said it to you directly.  So I wanted you to know that. 

COURIC:  Thank you.  Thank you.  That‘s very sweet. 

This was Katie‘s first day on “The Today Show,” April 5, 1991. 


ANNOUNCER:  This is “Today” with Bryant Gumbel, Katherine Couric, and Joe Garagiola.

BRYANT GUMBEL, CO-HOST:  Good morning, and welcome to “Today” on a Friday morning and to a new chapter.  How did it sound?

COURIC:  Sounded good.  And I still can‘t decide whether I‘m Katherine or Katie.

GUMBEL:  Alex, re-rack it for us, will you?

ANNOUNCER:  Katherine Couric.

GUMBEL:  One more time, Alex.

ANNOUNCER:  Katherine Couric.

GUMBEL:  Thank you very much.

COURIC:  There you go.


NORVILLE:  When you look at your career in television and you look at the changes that are going on in the business right now, I call it the Dan Rather sweepstakes—Dan is leaving CBS.  He‘ll disappear in March, when he is making nearly a quarter of a century. 

When they talk about who‘s going to replace Dan, they talk about guys and they talk about white guys.  Why is there not more a sense of diversity in our business? 

COURIC:  I don‘t know.  I really don‘t know the answer to that question.  Certainly, there‘s a great deal of diversity on the air in general.  You look at the correspondents.


COURIC:  And, certainly, the number of anchors on a variety of shows and there are plenty of women and certainly a lot of female viewers. 

And I just think they‘re a little bit five minutes ago, as Ellie would say, and a bit antiquated in their thinking.  And certainly the field should be expanded to include women, to include African Americans.  And I think maybe that‘s something that will happen.  But it‘s a very traditional format.  And the nightly news has a strong history and a strong tradition. 

So, I think maybe it‘s hard to break away from that.  And it‘s what‘s always been.  And, certainly, they experimented with co-anchors, as you know, with Connie and also with Barbara, and those weren‘t very successful.  But I think that probably that‘s going to happen. 


NORVILLE:  Because everybody says it will happen eventually, but when? 

COURIC:  Yes, I‘m not sure.

I think part of it, too, Deborah, is, I think the nightly newscasts are still very, very important.  I think they‘re the cornerstone of the networks, of the major networks.  At the same time, viewership has decreased slightly.  And there are more options for women in other time slots as well.  So, I think probably it‘s a combination of those factors. 

NORVILLE:  You downplay it, but the reality is, the morning news programs like the “Today” program, like “Good Morning America,” and to a lesser extent what they do at CBS, have become the really ATM machines for the network news division.  There‘s a lot of power there. 


COURIC:  Right, money there.  But I think in terms of where people get their news.

NORVILLE:  Exactly. 

COURIC:  They have the Internet.  A whole generation of people are not going home and sitting in front of the TV and watching Walter Cronkite or the anchors.  Brian‘s doing a great job.  And it‘s really—I think that job, the half-hour newscast is just a port of it. 

That person is really the face and the heart and soul of any particular network.  And that I think—the role is very symbolic.  Certainly, when a crisis happens, that person is under the gun.


COURIC:  Political coverage, that person has to spearhead it.  So it‘s a vitally important position.  And, hopefully, there will be women around the corner. 

NORVILLE:  Would you want that kind of responsibility/pressure? 

COURIC:  I have a lot of pressure already in my current job. 


COURIC:  You know, I think one of my skills is the way I interact with people.  And I think that I would miss in that job to opportunity to do that, to talk to people, to show my personality a little bit, whether it‘s in difficult situations and hard interviews or health advocacy work or more fun.

NORVILLE:  It would be more of a straitjacket.

COURIC:  Yes.  I think maybe the format needs tinkering with, because it is a bit sort of...

NORVILLE:  Would you see them put in at prime time?  Do you think a newscast in prime time would work? 

COURIC:  I don‘t know.  I think, right now, the television landscape is really getting recalibrated and there‘s a lot of thinking going on and analysis going on in terms of the role of news and where it could be effective.  And, frankly, I don‘t have the answer to that.  But I think certainly people are looking at a lot of different scenarios. 

NORVILLE:  A lot of changes happening in TV news.  Katie Couric is a big part of the business.  We‘ll be back.  More with her in a moment. 


COURIC:  OK, I‘m sorry, but is he not the most handsome man every? 

AL ROKER, METEOROLOGIST:  Well, maybe not the most. 


COURIC:  Yes.  Maybe the second most, after you, Al. 

ROKER:  Yes!




COURIC:  Look who wandered in, President Bush and Ranger.  He said that Millie and Mr. Bush, they were getting too much time. 

Can you stick around and talk with us?



COURIC:  In our next half-hour?

G.H.W. BUSH:  Listen, I got work to do over there. 

COURIC:  All right.  How about next week? 

G.H.W. BUSH: I came back from the office. 

COURIC:  Station break.


NORVILLE:  Back now with Katie Couric.

Sam Donaldson once said, if television had not been invented, he would go door to door and just tell people stuff.  What would you do if you didn‘t do this? 

COURIC:  Well, I think now I would be interested in medical research or raising money for cancer research. 

At a time, I wanted to go into advertising and be on the creative end of advertising, because I love that marketing and being creative and coming up with concepts.  I would love to be a lounge singer, but I don‘t have enough talent. 


NORVILLE:  ... on the corner?

COURIC:  Yes.  I would love to be on Broadway in musicals, but I can‘t sing, so that‘s not going to happen. 

NORVILLE:  Have you got rhythm?  Can you dance?

COURIC:  I actually can dance.  Yes, I can, a little bit.  I dance on “Ellen” and occasionally on “The Today Show.” 

But I‘m sort of inhibited, oddly enough, when it comes to—well, people are going to be like, what are you talking about?  But when it comes to dancing on TV, I don‘t do too much, although I did dance with Kevin Spacey recently. 

NORVILLE:  Is it true that an executive at CNN saw you on the air once and said he never, ever wanted to you on TV again? 

COURIC:  Oh, God.  He‘s going to die when he hears this again. 


NORVILLE:  ... a million times.

COURIC:  Yes, Reese Schonfeld, who is a lovely, lovely man, was president of CNN.  And he was absolutely right.  I was terrible. 

NORVILLE:  It was too soon. 

COURIC:  I was terrible.  I was 23 years old.  I looked like I was 13.  And those were the days.  And I just had a singsongy voice.  I had no authority.  I was dreadful.  And he was absolutely right. 

NORVILLE:  I asked this question once of somebody and got the most interesting answer. 

COURIC:  Uh-oh, the pressure. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  No, no. 


NORVILLE:  It‘s weird how this question can do things to people.  What is the first pet that you can remember as a child? 

COURIC:  My cat named Pansy (ph).  It was a black cat. 

NORVILLE:  And how old were you? 

COURIC:  I think I was like 5.  And then we had a cat named Spicy (ph). 


NORVILLE:  So you were cat people? 

COURIC:  That was really fascinating, wasn‘t it? 

NORVILLE:  No, it didn‘t work with you. 


NORVILLE:  I‘m sorry.  I had James Lipton on, you know, “Inside the Actors Studio.”

COURIC:  Yes.  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And I asked him that question.  And what he said in response was, I never had a pet.  We were too poor.  It was just this whole amazing thing.  I assumed that you had a pet when you were little.  Most kids do growing up.

COURIC:  Yes.  Yes.  Pansy died prematurely.  Does that make it a little more meaningful? 


NORVILLE:  But your mother didn‘t run over him or anything, did she? 

COURIC:  No.  No.


COURIC:  Spicy used to bring dead mice and rabbits into our house and my mom and my sister would lock themselves in the bedroom.  And my dad would have to get it out with a broom. 


COURIC:  But, anyway, so that‘s interesting.

NORVILLE:  Fun in the Couric household.  OK.  That didn‘t go anywhere.

COURIC:  Sorry.


NORVILLE:  Someone once said to me that a mother‘s voice echoes in their child‘s head forever.  Is there something that you continually to this day still hear, an admonition that your mom gave you and your sisters when you were growing up? 

COURIC:  And my brother.  Don‘t forget my brother.

NORVILLE:  And your brother.  But he might have gotten different advice than you girls. 

COURIC:  Yes. 

You know, I don‘t remember—I remember a couple things.  My mom used to say let them know you‘re there. 


COURIC:  And, boy, did we.  And what I think about more than anything, my parents, I‘m so blessed, are still alive.  My dad‘s 84 and my mom‘s 81. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s great.

COURIC:  I hope they aren‘t watching, because they won‘t appreciate that. 

But they just loved us all so much and were so proud of us.  And even as my success was more public, they‘ve always been equally proud of all their children.  And they hate—they refuse to brag about their kids.  I know they‘re proud of me.  And I know that when somebody at the garage says, are you Katie Couric‘s father, my dad said, actually, Katie Couric‘s my daughter. 


COURIC:  And I just—I‘m very fortunate in that I was just enveloped with love and discipline and expectations.  And I just have the uber parents of the universe. 

NORVILLE:  Similarly, what have you said that you think your daughters will hear years from now when their moms or even grandmas themselves? 

COURIC:  Clean up your room?  I don‘t know. 


COURIC:  Come on, hurry up.  What are you doing? 


COURIC:  I‘m not sure.  I hope that they‘ll have the same sense of being loved so unconditionally.

And my mom used to say, everybody needs a cheerleader, and I‘m yours.  And I hope my daughters always know that I‘m behind the scenes cheering them on in everything they do and that I respect them and think the world of them.  And, more than anything, I want them to be good, decent people.  I don‘t care what they do for a living or if they go to an Ivy League school or not.  I just want them to feel like they‘re contributing something to the world and that they‘re happy human beings.  And that‘s really all that matters to me. 

NORVILLE:  I think kids live up to the expectations that they know are in front of them.  They‘ll do just fine. 

COURIC:  I hope so.

NORVILLE:  Katie, it‘s great to see you.

COURIC:  I‘ll check in with you in about 10 years. 

NORVILLE:  Ten, 20 years, yes.

COURIC:  The 13-year-old, you know, it‘s challenging, to say the least. 

NORVILLE:  Have a terrific holiday.  Thanks for being on.

COURIC:  OK.  Thanks, Deborah. 

NORVILLE:  Take care. 

We‘ll be right back. 


NORVILLE:  A teenager‘s mistake made good three decades later is this week‘s “American Moment.”

Thirty-three years ago, a 13-year-old boy raised $300 for a Pittsburgh hospital charity, but he spent it on himself.  Well, all that guilt apparently built up and that same boy, now a 46-year-old man, donated $10,000 to make up for it.  The unidentified man sent a cashier‘s check to a Pittsburgh radio station on behalf of a group that provides free hospital care for children.  The man wrote that he wrestled with his conscience over the years and vowed that, one day, he would make amends. 

The radio station says it has left several messages for the donor ever since it received the letter, but he hasn‘t returned the calls.  He says he wants to stay anonymous.  And no matter who he is, his making a right from a wrong 33 years later is this week‘s “American Moment.” 

Send us your ideas and comments to us at  And do

sign up for our newsletter.  That address is

That is our program for tonight.  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Deborah Norville.  Good night.



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