Embattled CBS news anchor Katie Couric said she sometimes wonders if she should have left NBC's morning show Today to join the CBS Evening News, where she succeeded male broadcasting legends.
In a New York magazine article that hit newsstands on Monday, she acknowledged the criticism and resistance to her groundbreaking role in network news amid plummeting ratings.
I have days when I'm like, 'Oh my God, what did I do?' Couric said of her decision to leave NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., last year for CBS Corp., where she became the first woman to anchor the news alone on a U.S. broadcasting network.
But for some weird reason, they don't happen that often, she said.
Couric's predecessors included Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite and the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow. Before hiring Couric as a fresh face, CBS chief executive Les Moonves described the style of a patrician male anchor as an outdated Voice of God.
Couric's viewers have fallen by half from the more than 13 million people who watched her first night on the CBS Evening News in September, and the numbers dipped as low as 5.5 million in May, the magazine said.
I think the one thing that I realized, looking back at it and analyzing it, is people are very unforgiving and very resistant to change, Couric said. The biggest mistake we made is we tried new things.
The article also describes infighting at CBS, where some employees' pay has been cut while Couric collects a salary widely reported at $15 million per year.
Couric, 50, was hired with great fanfare to boost ratings at CBS, but the revamped news program trails the two other major networks' broadcasts.
The magazine said Couric periodically lost her temper out of frustration and it described an incident in which she repeatedly slapped a news editor on the arm for using sputum, a word she dislikes, in a story about tuberculosis.
I sort of slapped him around, Couric said. I got mad at him and said, 'You can't do this to me. You have to tell me when you're going to use a word like that.' I was aggravated, there's no question about that.
Despite the scrutiny, she said she is coping well.
I think that bugs people even more, that I'm not a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Couric said. It's probably disappointing to some people.