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The Doctor's Farmacy

Coming To Terms With The New Reality Of COVID-19

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We’re all going through this era of coronavirus—separately but together.

I feel like humanity is taking one big existential breath; it’s a pause for us all to think about our previous normal lives, our currently abnormal lives, and how we want to reinvent life when this whole thing is over. 

And I know many of us have become confused by the different news outlets sharing different information. When it comes to deciding who is a reliable source, I know Katie Couric is always someone I can trust. I’m honored to have her chat with me for this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy

Katie and I dive into what it’s like to be collectively creating a new normal. She is always on the ground, talking to people during our most urgent crises, and this pandemic is no exception. Katie shares what she’s been hearing from a variety of different sources, from ER docs to psychologists and CEOs trying to save companies, about the challenges and bright spots they’re all experiencing during this time. 

We get into the topic of divisiveness in the media and trying to differentiate fact from fiction. Digital targeting, fear tactics, and political interests all play a part in the news we’re exposed to and Katie gives us her personal insights on navigating journalism from an honest place. 

I always enjoy talking to my good friend Katie Couric and I’m grateful we could stay in touch and share our conversation with you while we’re all staying in at home. I hope you’ll tune in to hear her grounded perspective on staying healthy during this time and seeking the real facts within the news stream.

Sign-up for her morning newsletter, Wake-Up Call at https://katiecouric.com/newsletter/.

This episode is sponsored by AirDoctor and AquaTru. We need clean water and clean air not only to live but to create vibrant health and protect ourselves and loved ones from toxin exposure and disease. That’s why I’m teaming up with AquaTru and AirDoctor to offer you the AquaTru Water Purification System and AirDoctor Professional Air Purifier systems at a special price. Learn more at www.drhyman.com/filter.

*For context, this conversation was recorded on 3/31/20.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. The unprecedented nature of COVID-19
    (2:30 / 6:16)
  2. Why now is not the time to turn to comfort foods
    (6:00 / 9:46)
  3. What Katie has been hearing from healthcare providers, psychologists, business leaders, and others she has been interviewing during the coronavirus crisis
    (8:17 / 12:03)
  4. The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic
    (11:30 / 15:16)
  5. The devastating disruption to standard autopsy, grieving, and burial practices in COVID-19 deaths
    (17:40 / 21:26)
  6. Staying informed without obsessing over, or over-consuming, news updates
    (18:55 / 22:41)
  7. Finding power and a sense of control by focusing on where you can be of service
    (21:20 / 25:06)
  8. What our society will look like post-COVID-19 given our intense divisiveness, partisanship, current leadership, and media landscape
    (26:15 / 30:01)
  9. Practices to manage and cope with our current reality
    (37:46 / 41:32)
  10. Restoring national unity through leadership and empathy
    (44:56 / 48:42)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Katie Couric

Katie is an award-winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author and a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer. Since its launch in 2008, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than $600 million to support cutting-edge collaborative science and its research has contributed to six new FDA approved therapies. In 2017, she founded Katie Couric Media, which has developed a number of media projects, including a daily newsletter, a podcast, and digital video series. She has played a part in producing many documentaries, including Fed Up, which I was thrilled to be a part of. Couric was also the executive producer of Unbelievable on Netflix, is developing other scripted projects, and is currently writing her memoir. 

Transcript

Katie Couric:
I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and hope like you are, that this will result in a massive reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to the doctor’s pharmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s pharmacy with an F. F-a-r-m-a-c-y. A place for conversations that matter. And if you care about what’s happening in the world today, this conversation is going to matter because it’s with my friend and an extraordinary visionary and leader and communicator about what’s happening in the world and has been for decades. Katie Couric, who you all know, she’s an award winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author and a co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer, which is quite an amazing organization which launched in 2008. And it’s raised more than $600 million to support cutting edge collaborative science and research. And it has supported and contributed to six new FDA approved therapies for cancer, which is amazing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Katie’s been a fixture in our worlds for decades and decades. She was the first woman to solo anchor, a network evening newscast, serving as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS evening news from 2006 to 2011 which I watched often following 15 years as a co-anchor of NBCs Today show, she’s won a DuPont Columbia award, a Peabody, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Walter Cronkite Award and multiple Emmys.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m so honored to have Katie on the podcast. She’s now working on Katie Couric Media, which we’ll talk about, which is an incredible set of projects around daily newsletters, podcasts, digital video series, documentaries. We’ve talked about doing documentaries more together. We worked together on Fed Up years ago. I was a medical expert on Katie’s television show when that was going on and we’ve known each other for quite a while, so welcome Katie and it’s so great to have you here today.

Katie Couric:
Hi Mark. So good to be with you. I’m sorry. Did they make you read that long introduction?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I cut out three quarters of it. It was like it would have gone on for two years.

Katie Couric:
I do apologize for that, but I’m so happy to be with you. And so appreciative of the information and guidance you’re giving people not only during this critically important and scary time, but every day in terms of people’s health and wellbeing. So I’m really thrilled to be with you because I have a lot of respect and admiration.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, thanks Katie. Well today is March 31st, 2020 and every day in this era of COVID is a century essentially. And this is a pretty unprecedented time. I’ve been around for 60 years, you’re probably a couple of years ahead of me, but not too many and we’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetime and you’ve covered pretty much every relevant event over the last 30, 40 years. How is this different and how do you put this in perspective of what’s happened to the world over the last 50 years?

Katie Couric:
Well, I certainly have never seen or witnessed anything like this in my lifetime. My daughter, Carrie works for Breeders and her boss said it was eerily reminiscent… the city was of 9/11 or the aftermath of 9/11. And I think it’s even more…. I don’t know, intense more obviously global than 9/11. The enemy is this insidious unseen force. I mean a kind of biological terrorism. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Katie Couric:
I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it. I think I would say it’s one of the most monumentally serious stories that I’ve lived through. I’ve just never seen anything like it. It’s even hard to describe. I think the number of people, the number of countries. I think what’s really scary, and Mark, this is really your area of expertise, how little scientists really understand about this virus, how it’s been such an evolving process of people learning about why it affects people in different ways, who it affects. Is it because of the viral load people are exposed to? Is it because of something about their genetic makeup or biology that makes them particularly susceptible in addition comorbidities or underlying conditions. So I think the fact that it’s still more or less a mystery. They don’t know if you’re going to be immune to it. They don’t know if it’s going to be seasonal. They don’t know so many things about it. And that’s why I think it’s such a perplexing story as well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And it creates collective anxiety because we know so little, if we knew it was coming and it would pass and it acted this way and it did this thing, we could sort of deal with it. But right now I think there’s a sense of what’s going on. How long is this going to last? How long are we going to be locked down? How long it’s going to take to develop a vaccine or medications? This morning I… I’m always looking at the literature of what’s happening and what treatments are available. And in China they were using high dose vitamin C intravenously and seeing incredible outcomes. And now there’s four hospitals in the US that have implemented protocols using high dose IV, vitamin C and much improved outcomes. So…

Katie Couric:
Oh, is that right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. There are therapies-

Katie Couric:
We talked about that. I think when you, and I did it Instagram live about this, I think you talked about the possibility of might be vitamin C. So that’s fascinating, something that’s pretty easy to get I imagine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true. It’s very easy. It’s low risk. And so there are ways to sort through this. And I think the point you made earlier is really important is that we don’t know that much about it, but what we do know is that if you are malnourished, if you are eating a processed diet, it’s nutrient depleted. If you are low in vitamin D and if you’re low in zinc and if you’re low in selenium, if you’re eating a lot of sugar, if you’re not getting adequate protein, if you have obesity, heart disease, diabetes, you’re much more likely to be at risk of getting it and having more severe and bad consequences from it, whether it’s hospital admission or even death. So, that’s something we do know. And it’s something that you and I have sort of talked about in the past about chronic disease and the effect of sugar in our diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think that’s something that as people are hunkering down, and we talked about this on your Instagram live, it’s easy for people to think about, well, I’m just going to eat comfort foods. I’m just going to have cake and cookies. And it’s probably not the right time to do that. In fact, it’s probably the right time to actually get our lifestyle sorted. Because we’re home, we can cook, we can actually develop a rhythm. My wife and I have been working this out. How do we live in a way that supports us emotionally, physically, spiritually, throughout this time and still do the work we need to do? Because it’s easy to get caught up in the drama and the chaos, the pain. I think that’s what we’re all feeling.

Katie Couric:
Yeah. You talked about existential anxiety and the one thing I was thinking about the fact that there’s so much uncertainty. I remember talking to some expert at some point in my career about human behavior and unpredictability is one of the most unsettling and difficult situations to deal with. They say, for example, if you have someone who is mean to you all the time, if you know basically they’re a son of a bitch.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s coming.

Katie Couric:
If you have someone who is nice to you most of the time you think, okay, well that person’s nice. But when you never know what to expect from someone, that is the most upsetting situation to be in. So this is kind of that way on a grand scale, not knowing this uncertainty, I think must feed people’s anxieties in ways that we can’t even imagine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’re also out in front of this and you’ve been interviewing experts and talking to people scientists, politicians people focused on-

Katie Couric:
Psychologists.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… psychologists

Katie Couric:
People dealing with the executives to help them with leadership and a time of crisis. A lot of doctors on the front lines, nurses. I’ve been trying to kind of cover this from a whole slew of angles. I interviewed the guy who broke contagion and Dr. Lipkin from Columbia, from the mailman school who was the major consultant on that movie.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He got sick. Right? He got coronavirus.

Katie Couric:
He has coronavirus and I mean, I don’t know if you’ve re-watched or ever watched that movie, but it is absolutely eerie how prescient it is. And spoiler alert at the end they showed that this worldwide pandemic was started by a bat who I think there was a bat dropping eaten by a pig. The pig was being cut up in a restaurant, I believe in Hong Kong. [inaudible 00:09:22], wiped his hands on his apron, shook Gwyneth Paltrow’s hand and she became patient zero. Anyway, it’s just crazy. And the CDC, the guy did three years of research on this and I don’t know. I’ve a friend… well I talked to Kristen bell. I don’t think we’re friends exactly. Sort of nice. I talked to Kristen bell. Yes, it was probably yesterday because she did a Nickelodeon special for kids and she has watched contagion three times-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, my God.

Katie Couric:
… and listen, she has anxiety issues anyway, I think someone needs to cut her off.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, well it’s true. I think it’s easy to get consumed with the bad news. But before I get to that, I want to sort of ask you what you’ve been learning from talking to these psychologists, doctors, scientists, business leaders. What are you hearing out there on the ground that people are thinking, what are they doing? How are they reacting? How are they adapting?

Katie Couric:
I think it depends on who you are. I talked to an emergency room doctor who said this is why he was trained. This is what he does when people… just like firefighters run into a burning building, that’s what he’s doing right now. Every day he’s working. I think a lot of these people are going to have PTSD. I think that they’re doing what they’re required to do. I think what all of us, if we love what we do for a living, we’re passionate about it. We kind of go into autopilot and do it. He said he had to intubate a good friend of his, a nurse who later passed away, something like 45 years old. And I think it’s like a war zone. That’s how they’re describing it. And so PTSD is actually a very appropriate term when it comes to dealing with the trauma that they’re not only experiencing but they’re witnessing.

Katie Couric:
So I think it’s… I don’t want to be really negative, but I think it’s a terrifying situation, these hospitals. I think the response, a lot of the people I’m talking to I’ve been discussing the US readiness for a pandemic like this. I don’t know if you’ve watched Bill Gates’ Ted talk in 2015 who basically predicted this. Dr Lipkin said, “We’ve had scientists talking about this for years.” And I think it shows a real failure of our government and of our institutions on a federal, state and local level. I think human nature you talk about social security solvency, I think people have a very difficult time Mark dealing with potential crises aren’t right in front of their face.

Katie Couric:
And I think the fact that this commission or this group, the pandemic response team, I interviewed Beth Cameron who was in charge of that during the Obama administration, the fact that it was not exactly dissolved but reorganized put under the umbrella of a different organization that that wasn’t myopically focused on this.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, It’s like we don’t need that.

Katie Couric:
I hope there’s a COVID-19 commission, like there was the 9/11 commission and I hope some real changes in how we prepare for this are really implemented because I don’t think this is necessarily… I mean you tell me, Dr Hyman, I don’t know if this is going to be the last pandemic we may be facing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, for sure it won’t be. And I think throughout history there’s been pandemics. We’ve just been isolated. Right? It’s been the bubonic plague. I mean, Marcus Aurelius died in a pandemic. There’s-

Katie Couric:
1918.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… 1918, right? So I think we’re just sort of living in this bubble and the 21st century and the latter part of the 20th century where everything is nice and calm and easy and we think it’s okay. But the truth is humanity has suffered through this throughout it’s history and it’s coming. It’s coming again. And I think to have a more coherent way of dealing with it is possible. And it’s tragic that we have… when you look at countries like South Korea and Singapore, even China they were a little bit late, but once they got on it, they were on it. And we’ve seen a slowing of transmission we’ve seen… now in this country what terrifies me is that is the risk to health care workers. It’s unconscionable that we don’t have personal protective gear.

Katie Couric:
It is so insane and so infuriating.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re telling doctors to wash their masks and put them in a little bag with their names on them. I mean, this is almost criminal. It’s like sending soldiers to war without a gun.

Katie Couric:
Oh, it’s true. And the N95 masks have to be carefully fitted. A friend of mine who’s a doctor explained the whole process where you have to read the ABCs or sing a song, recite a poem and make sure that you’re not inhaling this spray that they put on, right Mark?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Katie Couric:
And that is so maddening that they don’t have the equipment they need. I get so upset about that and I didn’t realize, Mark, that you are supposed to kind of change that mask every time you see a new patient.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Katie Couric:
Not just every day. Every new patient. You’re supposed to have a new mask.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. New mask, new gown, new gloves. Yeah. And I think in China they’ve reduced the contagion to healthcare workers to zero because of the aggressive use of personal protective equipment. And here we don’t. And it just… still the doctors and nurses and healthcare workers are doing this. I mean, at Cleveland clinic where I work, they’ve converted the entire medical school. There’s a giant atrium in the middle and they’re putting a thousand hospital beds in there to get ready. It really is like a war zone. I went down to Haiti after the earthquake and-

Katie Couric:
So did I.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… yeah, I remember. And it was unlike anything I’d ever seen and it was tough to be in there, but it wasn’t the same as it is now because now doctors and nurses are at risk and healthcare workers are at risk and that’s what’s terrifying because if we lose them, then our ability to handle the onslaught is going to be diminished and we’re going to see more and more deaths.

Katie Couric:
It’s so true. And I think about all the retirees that they’re bringing back in. I’ve been keeping up with a lot of this, trying not to OD on it. Most of people that I’ve seen in recent days are men in their 70s, who’ve obviously probably have some underlying conditions or some medical issues, but I think about bringing some of these doctors and nurses out of retirement who are older who might have inevitable health issues that often come with aging or sometimes do. And I think about putting them in harm’s way. It’s just a very, very scary situation. I think what’s been really troubling about this is people who don’t have underlying conditions who are… I’ve talked to these doctors, people in their forties and fifties, who were contracting this. Now maybe they have an underlying condition they don’t know about. Right?

Katie Couric:
And even their loved ones don’t know about, I talked to a woman in Florida who lost her 39 year old husband. He had aches for a week. He thought maybe there was something wrong with his mattress. He went to the hospital and no, and then he started getting sick. Then suddenly they’re intubating him and she’s saying goodbye. She was able to get into the hospital because she’s in health care on a cell phone behind a piece of glass with her 12 year old daughter singing to him. And it was just so heartbreaking. She very much wants to have an autopsy performed on him because she thinks it would benefit science and people’s understanding. But apparently, I don’t know if you know about this Mark, only 5% of COVID patients who pass away are having autopsies performed, I guess maybe they don’t have the medical staff to do it or…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s overwhelming. I mean, there’s no place to put the bodies and in Europe it’s really tragic.

Katie Couric:
And the lack of… I think about this because I’ve had my husband and my sister die and the lack of dignity in these deaths. I mean, first of all, that these people are alone. It’s almost hard to even talk about because it’s so upsetting. They’re all by themselves. Their bodies are lined up in hallways or in refrigerator trucks. They can’t have proper burials. I mean the trauma to the families is exacerbated by all these, first of all, the shock of this. And then the shock of not being able to go through a normal grieving process is just absolutely devastating.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So given that you’re such a leader in the media and try to sift through and sort through all the information to deliver to people, something that actually is truthful, it makes sense that maybe even a little bit reassuring. How do you see us handling this? Because I find myself sort of in almost an addictive pattern of checking the New York Times and checking the news. I don’t watch TV, but I just check all the media and read the articles and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I feel like I need to know enough, but I think it’s overwhelming. My wife calls it and doom surfing and do we just try to sort of limit it. How do we manage this? Because it’s not going away. It’s every day, there’s something else.

Katie Couric:
Well, every expert I’ve talked to basically says, “Consuming this too much and too often is, is a no-no.” I mean, it’s just going to… I mean, I don’t know about you Mark, because you’re a doctor and you’ve dealt with all this a lot. And so I’d be interested in knowing how your mental state is dealing with this because this is what you do. This is what you care about, what you’re passionate about is medicine. And so ‘ll ask you in a minute-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, yeah.

Katie Couric:
… but I think all the experts basically say you, “You can’t have a steady diet of this. It’s just going to send your anxiety levels through the roof.” We do this morning newsletter called Wake up call that people can subscribe to. And a lot of my followers say they’re so grateful for it because they see what’s going on. We give them the highlights of what they really need to know [inaudible 00:20:46] and then they can go about their day. I think just sitting in front of a television or constantly scrolling through your phone is not a good thing. We do these COVID bullet points every night on my Instagram to just kind of tell people what they need to know that happened that day. And then of course the live interviews I’m doing. So I’ve tried to respond to the need for people to be informed but not be obsessed. And I’m curious, Mark, I mean, do you find that it adds to your anxiety by doom surfing as your wife says?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it does. But you know what I feel like I channel into is an effort to understand and communicate the facts about what we know and how to deal with this both medically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I think that’s where I feel of service. And so coming out of my own anxiety about what’s happening to my family, to my life and focus on service and what I can do to help, which is what you’re doing. It’s much better. Now, when I was in Haiti it was horrific. I mean the 82nd airborne was there and they said they’d never seen anything like what they saw there. Even if they were in Afghanistan and Iraq and there were 300,000 people dead, 300,000 people wounded. And we were right in the epicenter of it. And yet every day I was of service and I wasn’t overwhelmed because I was doing something.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so I think all of us, if we can actually do something, whether it’s just an act of kindness of a stranger, calling somebody making a pot of soup and dropping it at your neighbor’s house, whatever it is we can do those little acts of kindness and service that actually take us out of our own sort of narrow view of how it’s affecting us. And I think that’s a really important thing for us to remember because we’re all in this together even though we’re separate all this together.

Katie Couric:
Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I gave the same advice to two people on an interview that I was doing with a psychoanalyst who works with leaders and CEOs with this Carrie Silkowitz. She’s awesome. And I was saying the same exact thing that I think powerlessness is the worst feeling. Uncertainty is terrible, but also feeling like you can’t out of control to feel out of control and powerless is horrible. And I think anything that you can do proactively, I agree to help other people to get out of your own self and to feel like you are of service. That’s why I’m doing all of these interviews just because I want to be able to… I have access to people that the person at home may not have access to like you Mark or somebody else.

Katie Couric:
And I can say, “Hey, let me share a conversation that may be instructive or helpful.” And not that this is a proper segue, but when my husband was sick, I think that feeling of powerlessness was almost paralyzing. And the only way I could… the only antidote for me that the tremendous grief and pain of seeing my healthy 41 year old husband deteriorate from stage four colon cancer was doing research. Finding out information and then starting an organization like the NCCRA, the national colorectal cancer research Alliance and raising money for these scientists, bringing colorectal cancer, the second leading cancer killer of men and women combined to the forefront. Getting a colonoscopy, doing these things that could at least make me feel like there was something I could do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s so true. I mean, I think we can often use these times of crisis and hardship to emerge a little bit better as human beings. And I think that’s what all of us should be thinking about. I’m curious how your perspective, given the sort of long arc of history that you’ve witnessed and all the different crises and tragedies around the world, how you see the aftermath of this. Because I’ve never seen this before in my lifetime either, is this level of disconnection, divisiveness, conflict ideology, whether it’s diet wars or whether it’s religious wars or whether it’s ideological wars or political wars. It just seems like we live in such a divided, separate society and this is an experience we’re all having this common experience of this virus is affecting all of us and sort of calling out our common humanity in a way that I think has never happened in my lifetime.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And that we’re all in this together. Whether Republican or Democrat or paleo or vegan or Muslim or Jewish or Christian or Chinese or American, whatever it is, we’re all in this together. And I just read that we got a shipment of medical supplies from Shanghai into New York the other day, which is like, wow, that’s great. That’s who we should be. And how do you see humanity changing and political world’s changing and the way we operate as a society changing after we get through this. Because we will get through this. I mean whether it’s 12 months or 18 months, it’s going to be a long ride, but it will be over at a moment. So what do you see given your perspective looking backwards and looking forwards of how this is going to affect us?

Katie Couric:
Well I think after 9/11 there was that moment where I think all of humanity, Tony Blair, excuse me, and George W. Bush and everyone I think felt United. I think unfortunately, Mark, we live in a very different world than even the world that existed 19 years ago. I think that the partisanship has gotten so intense that we’re so bitterly divided. I think our media has become echo chambers of people with certain points of view. I think our leadership is severely lacking in an opportunity to unite us in a moment like this. I think that that often leaders rise to the occasion. And I think it’s very disconcerting to me to see president Trump picking petty fights with the media if he’s angry that they’re not reporting the story in the way that he wants to. By the way, every president gets annoyed with the media not a new phenomenon they all feel like that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I can’t Imagine anybody getting annoyed with you Katie.

Katie Couric:
[inaudible 00:28:09]. I think a lot of presidents fear was that they had’nt gotten a fair shake or upset. And in fact, I’m in my office and I’m looking at a letter from George Herbert Walker Bush he sent me this bumper sticker that says… I’m going to show it to you. Happy to have it right here. Annoy the media re-elect Bush. I got this lovely letter after I had done an interview with him in the White House, kind of an unexpected interview. Someone as elegant and gracious as George Herbert Walker Bush. He found it very troubling and upsetting when the media didn’t portray him in a way that he thought he could be. It’s just sort of part of the job. It’s the fine print of the presidency. But I’m disappointed that president Trump hasn’t taken this opportunity when he’s asked if, what do you say to the American people who might be scared to have this moment of reflection and to encourage unity and all the things that you and I have been talking about. About supporting each other about acts of kindness.

Katie Couric:
An opportunity to provide almost a spiritual leadership. Instead, he gets involved in these Petty exchanges really, not just exchange where he berates and diminishes reporters and news organizations. And it’s a real lost opportunity in my view, to exhibit true leadership. And to think of something more important than how a network is portraying him. I mean, it takes a lot of self discipline, but he is president of the United States. So I think I’m not very optimistic, sadly, that this is going to usher in a sea change of how we treat each other. I think it’s going to take a change at the top. I think that it’s going to take… I think that right now it’s going to… I don’t know, the media, I think this president has brought out the very worst in the media in that the media, I mean, I don’t know if you watch cable news ever, you said you don’t, but as a sociological experiment, watch CNN and then watch Fox.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I do that. Sometimes I flip channels and I’m like, “Wait, what world am I living in?”

Katie Couric:
It’s like an alternate universe. And I think it’s really, really hard. So I think it’s confirmation bias, right? If people get affirmation, not information, often times now, anyway, I don’t want to [inaudible 00:31:14].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well I wanted to actually bring this up, it’s really important. I mean, you won the Walter Cronkite award, you won the Edward R Murrow award. These were journalists who were fair, independent, impartial. And I think most people don’t understand what’s happened to the media and how we got cable news the way we have it. And maybe if you can just talk about the repeal of the fairness doctrine under Reagan and what the implications of that were. And I’m assuming you know about this because that’s-

Katie Couric:
I know stuff about it, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… a critical change. So, I think what’s happened is there’s been a real change where now we don’t have fair and impartial media that it can be biased and not factual. And I think that’s frightening to me when you think of the media as a voice of investigation, truth and independence. And suddenly it’s changed. And I don’t think people understand that. I think they understand how that happened.

Katie Couric:
Yeah, I mean, I’m not an expert on the fairness doctrine, but I do know that as audience… as the media is become increasingly fragmented the desire to attract an audience and ergo advertisers has become more challenging than ever. And I think that media outlets have carved out their audience. So they have an audience that wants to hear what they’re saying. I think that, that was going on prior to president Trump, but I think he has exacerbated the problem because I think some of this coverage I would say CNN and MSNBC are in general, I find more factual now. Maybe it’s because my political leanings are more along those lines. But it’s all on your perspective. People on Fox have a very different perspective. And I think what’s happened, it’s all turned into opinion and more opinion, more commentary and less straight reporting.

Katie Couric:
So you have anchors rolling their eyes or… and I think because president Trump’s personal style and the way he comports himself is so unconventional and like nothing we’ve ever seen before. And a precedent. I think as a result, it’s brought out these huge divisions in a way. And it’s become imbued with personal opinion and I mean, it’s a complicated scenario, but what I worry about is at this moment in time when we’ve lost so much faith in our institutions, our financial institutions from the 2008 crisis, our government, we’ve lost a lot of faith, certainly in the federal government. We’ve lost faith in media when there’s so much opinion that people feel that they watch something and they say, “Oh, they’re biased.”

Katie Couric:
Whether or not it’s packed or not. So just because of the brand of the news organization, they automatically go in and say, “Oh, there anti-Trump, or they’re pro-Trump.” And so who is the honest broker in all of this?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you. Who do we trust? I mean, how do we know what’s true in the media anymore? It’s just…

Katie Couric:
I think they’re… I would like to say all my friends who work in network news and many who work in cable news are telling the truth. But I think it’s like reading the editorial page of a newspaper, right? You’re getting someone’s take on it instead of what actually happened. And often someone’s take is viewed by their political ideology whether it’s Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity. So I think as a result, I think it’s exacerbated the divide in this country because people can’t have a conversation based on a common set of facts.

Katie Couric:
And I think because this president is so often outrageous in his behavior in terms of trashing reporters or with self flagellation it makes it really difficult for people to kind of put aside his personal peccadilloes, if you will, and really focus on policy. And I think he often colors the truth or he’ll say-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s polite Katie.

Katie Couric:
… I think you feel like you’re living in this crazy world where, who do you believe? And if you have someone leading the country who makes statements and then says he never made them or misrepresents the facts. I mean, it’s crazy town.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it is. And I think what disturbs me a lot is the way in which our ability to sort of discern truth from fiction is being usurped by all sorts of things, not just in traditional media, but through a lot of digital targeted marketing that is actually causing us-

Katie Couric:
Oh my God, of course.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… to think that there’s fact when there’s not. So that the fact that Hillary Clinton had a pedophile ring in the bottom of a pizza shop and people literally went there and with guns to stop it. I mean, that was portrayed as fact in the media for a while.

Katie Couric:
Oh, it’s insane. And I think social media and Facebook and digital media has allowed people, all these rumors and fake stories and truly fake news to duplicate and to spread like wildfire and it’s a bad situation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So Katie you’re a human, like all of us, you’re not just a media darling. You have to take care of your life and deal with this as well. And, and I know you’re sequestered away in Long Island, a way from New York city with your family and kind of cope as well as you can with everybody else. And so what are the kinds of things you’re doing on a daily basis to keep your sanity and to keep yourself well, so you can be a voice for reason and truth out there?

Katie Couric:
Well, I mean, first of all, I’m grateful every day that I have a place to be, that I have a house I can go to. There are six of us, John’s son and his girlfriend, my daughter Carrie, Adriana and John and I, and it’s sort of fun to have more people, although John sent me a picture with the caption, please stop blinking so loudly, you effing A hole.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, no.

Katie Couric:
I think it just was funny because it shows how every little thing kind of gets on your nerves after a while in close quarters especially.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, a friend of mine said I got married for better or worse, but not for lunch.

Katie Couric:
Yeah, I’ve seen that. I appreciate how lucky I am every single day, Mark. And I think about people who are losing their jobs, who have financial pressure’s on top of the anxiety that already exists with this thing. So I feel grateful for that first and foremost. I’m trying to help organizations like Bethany Frankel started this thing where she’s providing masks to hospitals. There’s a man not far from here named Andy. They call him handy Andy who’s in his 90s. He lives alone. So I’m checking on him and bringing him food when I can, but mostly I’m staying really busy. I’m lucky that I have a lot on my plate. So I’m writing a book. I’m writing a memoir that’s due this summer, and that’s a really big job as you know as somebody who’s written books. But I’m writing the story of my life.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a big one.

Katie Couric:
Yes. And that’s a lot. So I’m doing that. I’m doing podcasts. We’re having dinner every night. We’re taking turns cooking dinner. I’m trying to exercise. The weather hasn’t been very nice out here and I find the weather has such an impact on your mood. It’s been pretty gray and dreary. It’s a little sunnier today, but I’ve been trying to get out and take walks and go to the beach, which I find very restorative to just walk on the beach and I’m trying to eat healthy. But every once in a while I can’t help but eat a chocolate chip cookie or two.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I know.

Katie Couric:
But I’m trying to avoid… I’ve had eating issues my whole life. I was bulimic when I was younger and I have to kind of be gentle on myself because my tendency is to punish myself sometimes with food, which is a whole different podcast. But I’m really trying to just take care of myself, be gentle with myself and be gentle with the people around me. Most of all, I have this book to write. So every minute that I’m not doing a podcast or not working on my newsletter, not doom surfing, like you or doing an Instagram live, I am writing. And I find that just having that deadline and that pressure over my head is really helpful at a time like this. Because what better time? I mean sometimes I don’t have time to write. I’m going to the office, I’m working, I have all these different things I’m doing, I’m giving the speech, yada, yada, yada. But now, I mean, I have no choice. I have to write this damn thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Well that’s good. I mean, I think that’s a lesson for all of us. what are the things that we can do that are creative or that nourish us or things we have been putting off or how do we sort of reevaluate our life? For me, it’s been an interesting moment where I’m usually on the road, I’m speaking, I’m teaching, I’m working, I’m doing so many things. And this is the first time in a long time where I’ve just been stuck at home and actually it’s the opposite of stuck. It’s like the privilege of actually stopping for a minute, taking a breath and saying, “How am I going to live my life going forward? How’s my life will look different after this?”

Katie Couric:
Yeah. I think you’re right. I think if this doesn’t change people on a national scale or society, I think it probably is causing people to reevaluate sort of the level of, happiness or for me, I find busy-ness is a way to avoid…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Katie Couric:
It’s almost my drug. And I think people… even though I’m staying busy, but I think a lot of people are going to be saying, really looking and evaluating their lives as you said, and wondering, how can I make things, how can I make things better or different? We’re all terminal life is fragile and are we going to want to be just existing the way we were before this happened, you know?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s almost like humanities taking an existential deep breath and going, wait what is the world we’ve created? Is it the world we want to live in? How could it be different? How do I want to be different? How do I want to spend my precious time on this planet? It becomes a sort of more, for me, at least more relevant and more sort of compelling to sort of go, “Wait, what are we doing here?” What is the way we want to be together? How do we sort of re-invent this craziness that we’ve created into a more livable, humane, connected, loving place. And I don’t know if that’s going to happen, if that’s just Pollyanna fantasy, but it’s definitely what I’m thinking about because I think we’re all in this together. We’re all in this crazy venture together.

Katie Couric:
Yeah, I pray that it will alter a lot of things. I don’t mean to be cynical, but I just, I don’t know. I feel like we’ve reached this point and it’s going to be hard for massive sort of emotional correction, if you will at this point. I mean, I think honestly, it has to do with leadership.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Katie Couric:
And-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Where’s FDR, we need him.

Katie Couric:
Yeah. Well I was thinking about that the president could have said something akin to their we have nothing to fear but fear itself. And I don’t think that necessarily would have been applicable to these times, but he could have actually taken that moment and really spoken to everyone. And appeal to our common humanity and our better angels. And and I think we need a figure like that truly. And I don’t know who that is by the way, but who has the capacity to truly unite us as a people and try to tamp down this vitriol that is just seething everywhere. It’s so destructive. No matter where you sit. And it’s prevented us from having reasonable conversations about solutions. We’re trapped in our respective corners. We can’t even hear each other anymore, we can’t even be in the same room. So I’m gonna keep my fingers crossed and hope like you are, that this will result in a massive reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Well, it’s a moment for us to listen to ourselves, listen to each other. And now I want to close the story that I heard from a man whose parents took in Nelson Mandela after he got out of prison. And this young boy’s job was to bring him food every day and to be a witness to being in their house. And he relayed these stories of these incredibly aggressive apartheid leaders coming in home and confronting Nelson Mandela so aggressively, so aggressively and violently. And Mandela would just stand there and listen and basically beam love at them and by the end and talk to them about themselves and their family and find a doorway into their common humanity. And at the end they were friends and they were breaking down those incredibly almost like monolithic divisions between them into this common humanity. And I’m going to stand for that. I’m going to stay… because we are all in this together. And if that doesn’t help, I don’t know what will, but that’s my pathological optimism I think coming through.

Katie Couric:
No, and I’m pathologically optimistic too. And I mean this is a very kind of complicated problem to untease. I’m developing a documentary series on loneliness and social isolation, which I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. And I think a lot of people who live alone, I think we’re connected, but we’re connected with people who are like us for the most part. And these sort of opportunities to meet people who are different, have just become fewer and fewer. And I did a series called America Inside Out for National Geographic.

Katie Couric:
And I remember I talked to these EMS workers and there was a African American worker talking about the history of lynching and slavery. And he was trying to explain something to his colleagues and I witnessed him saying, “Gosh, we never thought about it that way.” And it was really fascinating to see that a conversation and empathy can move mountains out an ability to actually talk about something and share something. And I think we’ve sort of lost our ability to be empathetic to people who may have very different life experiences or different opinions than we have. That, I think is the key to restoring some sense of national unity. I think you can’t have it without empathy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, I think that’s right. And we all are suffering and we all can have empathy with each other, whoever we are in this moment. And I think that’s what you’re saying. I think that’s what you’re trying to do and communicate and you are voice of kindness and reason and truth and I really appreciate you for that Katie. And I really honor you for doing the hard work of trying to find out what’s true and telling that story. So thank you.

Katie Couric:
Well, thanks Mark. Right back at you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And thank you for doing it for decades and decades and still doing it with a smile. So-

Katie Couric:
You make me sound like, I’m 98 years old.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No you’re not. But you’ve been at this since you’re like 12, right?

Katie Couric:
Yeah, since I was a toddler Mark.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I think you all know Katie, but you can follow her on all of her social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Check out our website, KatieCouric.com- And sign up for my newsletter.

Katie Couric:
… and definitely sign up for, yes, I get it every morning. Katie’s Wake-Up Call.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Is it helpful?

Katie Couric:
It’s super helpful. It’s well organized. I can quickly scan it, learn what’s happening, I can dig into articles that I want to learn more about. It’s sort of a one stop shop for a sane and humane way of looking at what’s going on without too much sensationalism or very little, if any. And I just really appreciate that Katie. It’s a lot of work to put that together so everybody should sign up for Katie’s Wake-Up Call. It’s probably the best source of news out there today. So Katie we love you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thanks Mark we’ve got a great team working really hard from their respective homes and I feel like you do Mark I feel like [inaudible 00:50:55] for me. I feel like medicine is a calling for you and we can want to share. I think it’s in our nature to share what we’ve learned, what we know or what we want to know more about with the public if we can be of service, especially at a time like this.

Katie Couric:
Oh, thank you Katie. And everybody should check out her memoir when it comes, because it’s going to be on my reading list. We’ll do another podcast when that comes out.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, definitely. Anyway, lots of luck, Mark.

Katie Couric:
Yeah. Thank you, Katie. So you’ve been listening to the Doctor’s Farmacy. I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Katie Couric. We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, share with your friends and family on social media and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and we’ll see you next time on the Doctor’s Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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