Bryant Gumbel Allegedly Had 'Incredibly Sexist Attitude' About Katie Couric's 'Today' Maternity Leave

Couric called Gumbel a 'complicated guy.'

Katie Couric recalled encountering an "incredibly sexist attitude" from co-anchor Bryant Gumbel during her first maternity leave from NBC's Today show in 1991. "He got mad at me because I was doing something on maternity leave," Couric said on Sunday's Club Random podcast with Bill Maher. "And he was giving me endless s— for taking like a month or two off. I was having my first baby."

According to Couric, Gumbel told her, "Why don't you just drop it in the field and come back to work right away or something?" Although she conceded "he was goofing on me," she still called the comments "emblematic of sort of an incredibly sexist attitude."

Couric recounted the incidents earlier during the episode, when Maher referred to Gumbel as a "guy's guy" and said the two were "friends." Couric responded. "He was prickly, but, what a talent. He's such a seamless broadcaster, eloquent. When that countdown would happen — five, four, three, two, one — he would just hit it perfect." She added, "Complicated guy, though, I think — really talented guy, incredibly smart."

In 1982, Gumbel became a part of the Today team. Couric joined him in 1991, and the pair co-anchored together until Gumbel left in 1997. Couric worked at Today until 2006. On Sunday, Maher pointed out that Lauer had also joined the Today team during the same time frame as Couric and Gumbel.

"Obviously, there was a tradition of an old boys' network," Maher said. A series of sexual misconduct allegations were made against Lauer in 2017, and he was fired as a result. "It was a very different environment, very different," Couric added. "Lots of fraternization, a polite way of saying inner-office schtupping."

Maher responded, "Women had to put up with more. They just did. I mean, you know, not to get all fuzzy and Lifetime Channel about it, but people like you and Barbara Walters — or just like women comedians of a certain age — you have to really tip your hat to them because it was harder." Couric agreed with the podcast host and added, "I don't want to use the word microaggressions, but if you think of the true definition of the word, it was replete with microaggressions."