Laurie Ott interviews Katie Couric, Part 2

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August 18, 2006

Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and now...Katie Couric.

The new anchor of the CBS Evening News has made an unlikely rise to the top.

And when she hits the airwaves September 5, Katie knows there's a lot on the line.

That's because she's a real first: the first woman to solo anchor a network newscast. It's something I asked her about when I sat down with Ms. Couric last week in New York.

Laurie: "I understand there was a real Helen Reddy moment around the dinner table with your daughters?"

Katie: "Well, there should have been! We called a 'family meeting'--really, we were eating meatloaf around the kitchen table--because my career has an impact on my family and on our lives. At the time my daughters were 14 and 10. I asked how they felt about my changing careers. Without hesitation they said, 'We think you should go to CBS.' They said, 'You're ready for a change, you need a new challenge.'

"Carrie said, 'I think you should', and when I asked her why, she said it was because I'd be the first woman to do the job by myself.

"I was surprised Carrie was so 'I am woman'-ish in her assessment of the situation...and I wouldn't have done it if they didn't feel comfortable with my decision, or if we hadn't been able to talk it through."

Laurie: "Nobody asks men anchors, 'What about balancing work and family?'"

Katie: "There is such a double standard. Some of it is just annoying, and some of it is just the way it is. If you used all your energy to combat it, it would distract from the job and work.

"I've had people say to me, 'You're a mom.' And I say, 'Yes, I am. And Brian Williams is a dad, and Charlie Gibson is a dad. We're getting there, but some struggles are apparent in viewing women in equal roles in our society...I think a lot of women, like yourself, feel that way, residual sexism...but you deal with that and combat it by virtue of our performance on the job."

It will be interesting to watch.

We want to know what you think about it. Chime in on our News Blog here.

And mark your calendar: Katie's first night on the CBS Evening News is September 5, the day after Labor Day!