Katie Couric is getting depressingly honest about the realities of relationships and potential negative fallout in the workplace. The longtime journalist sat down with People magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jess Cagle, on the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview to discuss these topics in relation to the #MeToo movement. The movement, which has maintained a place in our culture since it went mainstream in late 2017, will be the focus of one episode in Couric’s upcoming TV series for National Geographic Channel, America Inside Out.
Although she doesn’t name the specific workplace, the way Couric describes her experiences sounds alarmingly familiar to workplaces across the nation. “Where I worked, I can’t tell you how many married men were having pretty, I don’t know if open, but talked-about and whispered-about, affairs with underlings,” Couric told to Cagle.
She continued, “There should be a zero-tolerance of that in media organizations,” she explained. “I think that sets a tone that anything kind of goes, so I think very strict guidelines and very specific protocols, transparency, accountability and an awareness that you have preconceived values and notions that need to be challenged by yourself.”
Even though she sees the benefits of the #MeToo movement, she has misgivings. “Now, has the pendulum swung too far in some instances? Maybe,” she said. “Is that part of a social movement’s natural ebb and flow? Perhaps. But I think there is this very important awakening. And now, I think it’s really critical that organizations and men and women talk about this in an open way that is not full of harsh judgment and criticism, but of real learning and education and a place of wanting to make things better.”
She’s right that there should be protocols in place and concrete ways to address workplace relationships, be they consensual or otherwise. It’s a surefire preventative measure to ensure the safety and well-being of employees. However, she also seems to be rebuking people who come forward with stories about sexual harassment in the workplace that began as consensual encounters. She implies she might be more skeptical than she lets on.
Couric’s experiences have no doubt given her a deeper insight than most about what happens when allegations of sexual harassment are made in the workplace and how it can affect everyone involved. These latest comments, as intense as they may sound to some, might just be the ones we need to hear — even if it doesn’t feel that way.