Katy Tur Reveals Cringe-Inducing Tales in Trump Campaign Memoir
Still, the NBC News correspondent, who fielded bitter tweets from the then-candidate (and death threats from supporters), says the president actually might like the book if he reads it.
While Donald Trump made mainstream media his whipping boy on his ride to the White House, he singled out NBC News' Katy Tur for particular abuse ("disgraceful," "liar," "third-rate"). Tur — who left a gig as NBC News London correspondent for what she expected to be just a summer reporting on the reality star's sure-to-be-short campaign — now has written a memoir of her time covering his run, Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (HarperCollins, $27), out Sept. 12 (the same day as Hillary Clinton's memoir).
"If he reads this, he might actually like it," Tur, 33, says of Trump. "It conveys early on that I said he had a better chance of winning than a lot of people gave him credit for." Still, her portrait of Trump and his campaign is not flattering. Among the cringey tales: the time Trump ("so close I can smell what he had for breakfast") planted an uninvited kiss on her cheek. (Asked if she felt threatened, Tur says no, "but I did feel like that crosses a professional line. I remember specifically at the time being so unnerved by it because, listen, I’m fighting to be taken seriously, I’m fighting to make a mark, I’m fighting to stay on this beat.”)
There was also the time a married-with-kids senior staffer asked her: "Where can I go to meet 30-something single women?" And the time the campaign sent Marco Rubio towels and bottled water after Rubio's water-guzzling, clammy debate performance, and Tur texted that same staffer to confirm. His response: "You need some? I'm sure you get all sweaty, too." Tur, now NBC News correspondent and MSNBC Live anchor, has all of those texts archived on one of six now-broken phones. "I refuse to get rid of them," she says. "I was able to piece together a really vivid picture of a lot of the campaign."
Tur details the debauchery of life on the trail, including hookups between (unnamed) colleagues (some of them married), and the toll it took on her personal life. One relationship ended, but another began — with former MSNBC correspondent Tony Dokoupil, now her fiance. During the campaign, he was assigned to cover the race from the voter perspective, so they would at times find themselves in the same state. “There was an open question about whether Tony and I would make it,” Tur admits. “But when he got put on the road, it was a life-saver. It didn’t bother him that I was gone. He understood it completely and never made me feel guilty about it."
Tur is philosophical about her own insecurities and the rivals at NBC News who openly attempted to steal the Trump beat from her. "If you're not competitive, if you're not out to make a mark," she says, "you shouldn’t be in the news business."
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.