Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Katie Couric reveals that her mother was Jewish in new autobiography

(JTA) — Katie Couric reveals in her new autobiography that her mother was Jewish, contrasting her mother’s upbringing with that of her father, who was apparently proud of his Confederate ancestors.

Couric delves into the revelation in “Going There,” published this week, which she also discussed Thursday in a long interview with Rebecca Traister, a Jewish feminist journalist, in New York magazine. Even well into her own adulthood, the former NBC “Today Show” and “CBS Evening News” anchor did not discuss her mother’s Jewishness.

She recalls, as an adult, discovering her late mother, Elinor, weeping after some friends made antisemitic remarks, but not explaining that she was wounded because she was Jewish.

Katie Couric’s first realization that she came from a Jewish background was when she was 10 years old and spotted a menorah in her mother’s brother’s house. The first thing that ran through her head was the song by the Jewish satirist Tom Lehrer: “Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants… and everybody hates the Jews.”

Her mother and her grandparents seemed ambivalent about being Jewish; she discovers a letter from her mother’s father to his daughter urging her to mix with non-Jews. Her mother winces when Couric, as a TV personality, adopts the word “Oy.”

Couric theorizes in her interview with Traister that her mother was seeking to avoid the antisemitism she must have encountered growing up, and also to protect the reputation of her father, a newsman and publicist. The family lived in the South, and Couric’s father, who was descended from Confederate soldiers, was obsessed with the Confederacy. Her late husband, Jay Monahan, was also an aficionado of the Confederacy and was proud of Couric’s Confederate roots.

The book has also earned publicity for its revelation that Couric in 2016 repressed parts of an interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Jewish liberal Supreme Court justice. In the interview, Ginsburg spoke derisively of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who protested racism in America by taking a knee during the national anthem.

— The post Katie Couric reveals that her mother was Jewish in new autobiography appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.