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Katherine Anne "Katie" Couric (born January 7, 1957) is an American journalist who became well-known as co-host of NBC's Today. In 2006, she made a highly publicized move from NBC to CBS, and on September 5, 2006 she became the first solo female anchor of the weekday evening news on one of the three traditional U.S. broadcast networks. She currently serves as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, having replaced Bob Schieffer on September 5, 2006. Schieffer served as the interim anchor following the departure of long time anchor and managing editor Dan Rather on March 9, 2005.

Biography

Early life

"Kate" Couric was born in Arlington, Virginia, the daughter of Elinor (née Hene), a homemaker and part-time writer, and John Martin Couric Jr., a public relations executive and news editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the United Press in Washington, D.C.[1] Couric was raised Presbyterian,[2] though her mother was Jewish.[3] Couric's maternal grandparents, Berthold B. Hene and Clara L. Froshin, were the children of Jewish immigrants from Germany.[4] In a report for Today, she traced her paternal ancestry back to a French orphan who emigrated to the U.S. in the nineteenth century and became a broker in the cotton business.

Couric attended Arlington, Virginia public schools: Jamestown Elementary, Williamsburg Junior High,[5] and Yorktown High School, in Arlington Virginia.[6]

She enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1975, majored in English and History,[5] and was a Delta Delta Delta sorority sister. Couric served in several positions at UVA's award-winning daily newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. During her third year at UVA, Couric was chosen to live as Head Resident of The Lawn, the heart of Thomas Jefferson's academical village. She graduated in 1979 with a degree in American Studies.

Television career

Couric's reporting career began when she was hired by Stan Hooper as a desk assistant for the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C., later joining CNN as an assignment editor. Between 1984 and 1986, she worked as a general-assignment reporter for WTVJ in Miami, Florida. During the following two years, she reported for WRC-TV, an NBC station in Washington, D.C., work which earned her an Associated Press award and an Emmy. Couric joined NBC News in 1989 as Deputy Pentagon Correspondent. From 1989 to 1991, Couric was an anchor substitute and filled in for Bryant Gumbel as host of Today, Jane Pauley, and Deborah Norville as co-anchor of Today, Garrick Utley, Mary Alice Williams, and Maria Shriver as co-host of Sunday Today, John Palmer, Norville, and Faith Daniels as anchor of the former NBC News program NBC News at Sunrise. She also subbed for Daniels, Norville, and John Palmer as the news anchor on Today'.

Today (1991- 2006)

In 1990, Couric joined Today as national political correspondent, becoming a substitute co-host in February 1991 when Norville had a baby. Norville did not return and Couric became permanent co-anchor on Thursday, April 5, 1991. In 1992, she became co-anchor, of "NBC Now" an evening time weekly TV newsmagazine with Tom Brokaw, which was later canceled and folded into part of Dateline NBC, where her reports appeared regularly and she was named contributing anchor. She remained at Today and NBC News until May 31, 2006, when she announced that she would be going to CBS to anchor the CBS Evening News, becoming the first solo female anchor of the "big three" weekday nightly news broadcasts.

Katie Couric has filled in for Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News. Couric has also filled in for Garrick Utley on the Sunday Edition of NBC Nightly News from 1989 to 1992, and also for Maria Shriver on the Saturday Edition of NBC Nightly News in 1989.

Couric hosted or worked on a number of news specials, like Everybody's Business: America's Children in 1995. Similar entertainment specials were Legend to Legend Night: A Celebrity Cavalcade in 1993, and Harry Potter: Behind the Magic in 2001. Couric has also co-hosted the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. She has broadcast with Bob Costas, beginning with the 2000 Summer Olympics. She did not co-host the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin, Italy because of a scheduling conflict with a live taping of Today Show. Brian Williams co-hosted with Bob Costas instead.

Couric has interviewed many international political figures and celebrities during her career, including Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and First Lady Barbara Bush. John F. Kennedy Jr. gave Couric his first and last interviews. Couric has won multiple television reporting awards through her career, including the prestigious Peabody Award for her series Confronting Colon Cancer. Couric has also interviewed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Senator Hillary Clinton (her first television interview), Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, and Laura Bush.

On May 28, 2008, Couric made a return visit to Today since leaving almost two years to the very day back on May 31, 2006. She made this appearance alongside her evening counterparts, NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams & ABC World News’ Charles Gibson, to promote an organization called Stand Up To Cancer and raise cancer awareness on all three major television networks; ABC, CBS & NBC. Couric, Gibson and Williams made appearances together on all three major network morning shows, first on CBS’s Early Show, then on NBC’s Today and finally on ABC’s Good Morning America.

CBS Evening News (2006-)

Couric announced on April 5, 2006 (her 15th anniversary as permanent co-host of Today), that she would be leaving the show, despite a 20 million dollar a year salary offer. “I wanted to tell all of you out there … that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I've decided I'll be leaving Today at the end of May." she said. “I really feel as if we’ve become friends through the years”. Couric appeared emotional at times as she made the announcement on Today. “Sometimes I think change is a good thing,” she said. “Although it may be terrifying to get out of your comfort zone, it’s very exciting to start a new chapter in your life".[7]

CBS officially confirmed later the same day that Couric would become the new anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric with her first broadcast set for September 5, 2006. Couric would also contribute to 60 Minutes and anchor prime time news specials for CBS. Couric would remain the highest-paid news anchor at $15 million per year.[8]

Many criticized the move by CBS to promote Couric to the broadcast chair. The criticism centered on Couric's lack of experience in hard journalism and credentials necessary to be a sole anchor of the CBS Evening News, when compared to previous anchors such as Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite, who was named in multiple viewer polls "The Most Trusted Man in America".[9] Beginning in 2005 and through 2006, the Today program faced increasing competition from Good Morning America, which became more popular when Robin Roberts joined Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer as co-hosts. Thus, Couric had a choice to either continue as host of the Today show or take the risk and go on the CBS Evening News where she gambled that she would be successful.[10]

On July 20, 2006, Access Hollywood (an NBC Universal program) reported that Katie intended to avoid certain anchoring situations that previous anchors have taken on. When asked about traveling to the Middle East, Katie was quoted as stating, "I think the situation there is so dangerous, and as a single parent with two children, that's something I won't be doing". Access Hollywood later corrected this report,[11] saying it was misleading and was based on a statement made by Couric after CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier was injured in Iraq in May while Katie Couric was still co-hosting at Today.


Couric made her first broadcast as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Tuesday, September 5, 2006. The program featured a new set, new graphics, and a new theme (composed by prolific movie score composer James Horner,[12] and featuring a voice over from Walter Cronkite). It was the first evening newscast to be simulcast live on the Internet and local radio stations. Critics gave mixed reactions about the first broadcast, which drew around 13.6 million viewers, the highest ratings for the CBS Evening News since February 1998 and double the usual number of viewers.[13] On September 19, 2006 the program placed first in weekly ratings. However, Couric's second week as anchor pulled in a close margin between rival NBC Nightly News with CBS's 7.9 million viewers compared to NBC's 7.3 million viewers for the week of September 11 – September 15, 2006. (Couric fell to third place on September 11, 2006 for that particular day with NBC, and ABC respectively taking first and second place, yet CBS remained at first place for the remainder of week.)[14] By October 6, Couric had slipped to third place for the second week in a row, trailing ABC News by more than a million viewers.[15] The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric continually finishes last in all major markets.[16]

CBS News executives, along with those close to Katie, have stated that it is "very likely" that Couric will vacate the anchor chair as early as January 2009 — two years before her contract expires, according to the Wall Street Journal. [17]


Public image

Couric has been criticized for blurring the lines between entertainment and reporting. Couric's choice of short skirts while hosting the Today show has led to her legs being one of the most widely identified aspects of her on-screen persona as well as the subject of many commentaries and Web sites.[18] On May 12, 2003, Couric guest hosted The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and garnered 45% more viewers than on normal nights. CNN and the New York Daily News noted that instead of using Leno's regular solid desk, "workers cut away the front of her desk to expose her legs while she interviewed American Idol judge Simon Cowell and Austin Powers star Mike Myers". Also appearing on that special show were Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland and Dr. Phil.

Other work

In a media crossover to animated film, she was the voice of news-reporter "Katie Current" in the U.S. version of the film Shark Tale. She also made a cameo appearance as a prison guard at Georgia State Prison in Austin Powers in Goldmember. She guest-starred as herself on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace in late 2002. On May 12, 2003, she traded places for a day with Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Couric also co-hosted NBC's live coverage of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1991 until 2005.

Personal life

Couric married Jay Monahan in 1989. Couric had her first daughter, Elinor Tully "Ellie" Monahan, on July 23, 1991; her second daughter, Caroline Couric Monahan, was born on January 5, 1996. Jay Monahan died of colon cancer in 1998 at the age of 42; as a result, Couric is a prominent spokeswoman for colon cancer awareness. She underwent a colonoscopy on-air in March 2000, and, according to a study[19] published by Archives of Internal Medicine (July 14, 2003), inspired many others to get checked as well:

Katie Couric's televised colon cancer awareness campaign was temporarily associated with an increase in colonoscopy use in 2 different data sets. This illustrates the possibility that a well-known individual can draw attention and support to worthwhile causes.

She also was very active in the National Hockey League's Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, appearing in some public service announcements and doing voice-overs for several others. Couric is currently a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the United States.

On October 7, 2005, Couric broadcast her own mammogram on the Today show, in the hopes of recreating the "Couric Effect" around the issue of breast cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.[20]

Her sister Emily Couric, a Virginia Democratic state senator, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54 on October 18, 2001. Couric gave a eulogy at the funeral. She pointed out that it irritated Emily when people asked her if she was Katie Couric's sister. Katie told the mourners "I just want you to know I will always be proud to say 'I am Emily Couric's sister." Couric has two other siblings, Clara Couric Batchelor and John M. Couric Jr.

Couric was the honored guest at the 2004 Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation fall gala.[21]

Celebrity news, such as People,[22] reported that Couric dated smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, but they reportedly broke up in February 2005. She was previously and has intermittently been linked with multi-millionaire TV producer Tom Werner, whose home base of California has reportedly proved problematic for the New York-based Couric. In 2007, Couric began dating 33-year-old entrepreneur (and triathlon competitor) Brooks Perlin.[23]

Controversies

In April 2007, one of "Katie Couric's Notebook" columns on the CBS News website, a piece about the declining use of libraries, was shown to bear striking resemblances to an article by Wall Street Journal author Jeffrey Zaslow, "Of the Places You'll Go, Is the Library Still One of Them?". In the ensuing controversy, it was revealed that Couric does not generally write these columns, although they often include first-person recounting of supposed events. On April 12, 2007, CBS admitted that her most recent column was indeed plagiarized from a Zaslow article without her knowledge, and that the unidentified producer who provided the material had been fired. Couric continues to maintain that she wrote the article. The article has since been removed.[24]

Also in April 2007, in a "Katie Couric's Notebook" titled "Is America ready for a President who grew up praying in a mosque?", Couric's video cited a Los Angeles Times article which reported that according to childhood acquaintance Zulfan Adi, Obama had "prayed in the mosque."[25][26] The video was later taken down from CBS's website and the transcript amended with "In a later Chicago Tribune article, however, the source [Adi] said he was not certain whether they prayed together."[27] In doing this Couric or her staff replaced a controversial statement for which there was some evidence (the Tribune article reports "Obama occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers, a few neighbors said."[28]) with an error (the Tribune article says merely "Zulfan Adi, a former neighborhood playmate of Obama's who has been cited in news reports as saying Obama regularly attended Friday prayers with Soetoro, told the Tribune he was not certain about that..." which doesn't actually contradict what he had said earlier).[29]

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