Ashleigh Banfield Responds to Katie Couric's Tell-All Claims (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
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Katie Couric's upcoming memoir has got people talking, including Ashleigh Banfield.
In Going There, out next month, Couric reportedly writes that she gave the news anchor the cold shoulder after allegedly hearing Banfield's father say his daughter was "telling anyone who'd listen that she was going to replace me."
"I was pretty shocked, I'm not gonna lie. You know, back in 2000, I was a nobody. And so the fact that she considered me a threat, I guess that's flattering," Banfield tells ET over video chat. "But at the same time, I sure wish I could've benefited from her leadership."
In the book, Couric writes, per DailyMail.com: "For a minute there, Ashleigh Banfield was the next big thing; I'd heard her father was telling anyone who'd listen that she was going to replace me. In that environment, mentorship sometimes felt like self-sabotage."
The journalist says she has no "hard feelings," noting that "if you have hard feelings in this business you'll never last."
"I like to say that I've developed an elephant skin over the decades," she continues, adding that she "took issue" with what Couric says because it involved her father. "It wasn't true. But I remain steadfast in my admiration for Katie Couric. She is the best in the business at morning television and she always will be in my eyes."
Banfield now hosts her own show on NewsNation, but parted ways with NBC in 2004. She hopes that Couric's claims aren't a reason why she didn't stay with the company.
"I hope my tenure at NBC wasn't cut short because of this," she shares. "I really have always wondered why they cut ends with me, and sort of at the top of my game. It never made sense to me. It's been a 20-year mystery for me. I don't know if this is the reason and it would be unfortunate if it were."
"I understand that television is cutthroat. I understand that television is dispensable and that we feel like we have to protect our turf," she continued about the message she has for other women who could be in the same position. "But I honestly have to say that after decades in this business, I have had nothing but positive returns in mentoring other people, other women, other reporters, other anchors. It comes back in spades."
As for the need to respond to Couric's allegations in her memoir, Banfield says, "I felt the need to respond because something was said about my late father [and it] wasn't true and it broke my heart."
While she doesn't know if she will read the memoir, she says she feels like she has "the cliff notes. I don't know if I'll read the book and, frankly, I am so busy with my life and my family and my job. Every day I wish I had time to read a book."
Meanwhile, Couric's memoir also includes meeting Prince Harry in 2012 and the smell of cigarettes and alcohol, she writes, "oozed from every pore" in his body. She also touches on Michael Jackson, Larry King, Martha Stewart and Matt Lauer.
When asked if she encourages other people who are mentioned in the memoir to respond to Couric, Banfield says, "To each his own."
"When the stories come out, if the record needs to be corrected, each person will decide for him or herself," she says.