The report says Couric admitted that she “gave Ashleigh Banfield the cold shoulder early in her career because helping her would have been ‘self-sabotage.’”
But Banfield responded by saying she has never been afraid to help other women, and embracing her role as a mentor has been one of her “best investments.”
“I have never ever found that that policy of helping other women younger than me, who might even be in my newsroom and maybe take my job, has ever come back to bite me. Never once,” she said on NewsNation’s “Banfield” Wednesday. “The opposite has happened. I am a better journalist today for all the young women who I worked with who I gave advice to. It came back to me in spades, and it will come back to you in spades as well.”
Banfield took viewers back to earlier in her career when she was a self-described “peon” at MSNBC and met Couric for the first time. She said she was in awe of the “Today” host, and called her “the queen of television.”
“It saddens me that she didn’t want to mentor me,” Banfield said. “I wasn’t that much younger than Katie, quite frankly. I think we could have had a really good working relationship together. I wished I’d had that.”
Journalism is even more competitive in 2021, and the number of jobs are shrinking. Pew Research Center data shows employment shrunk across the industry 26% from 2008 to 2020, although jobs in broadcast journalism specifically have gone up 4%.
“I remember thinking, ‘why do women think there’s no room at the top?'” Banfield said. “They all think it’s this apex that you’re just gonna get boinked right off of if anybody dares to climb higher.
“But the truth is, it is massive. There is a giant space, big flat spot right at the top where we can all lift each other up and help each other out. And it’s true, what Kennedy once said, that a rising tide floats all boats.”
Banfield also addressed Couric’s accusation that her father was telling people his daughter was going to “replace” Couric.
“I want to correct the record here, because you went after my dad. It’s just not true,” Banfield said.
Banfield said a reporter called her father, who was in assisted living at time and almost 80, to ask if he was worried about Banfield, who was in Afghanistan at the time.
Banfield says he told the reporter: “Yes, and I think NBC should bring her home and gives her a desk job like Katie Couric.”
“It was a far cry from being even able to leave the facility, let alone ‘telling anyone who would listen,'” Banfield said of her elderly father.
While Banfield said she hopes Couric will amend the comments made about her father, she still respects her. Banfield described an interview Couric did in the wake of the Columbine massacre that left her in tears on the floor in her home as she watched.
“There is no one better who has ever been on morning television than Katie Couric,” Banfield said. “I looked up to her for years and years and years. I still do. I still believe she is the best person to have ever graced the screen in that venue.”