TV journalist Katy Tur’s wild, bumpy ride on the Trump campaign trail began at the improbable beginning — as the real-estate mogul descended on an escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy on June 16, 2015 — and ended on Election Night, when she was one of the few in the media who believed he might win.
The NBC and MSNBC correspondent relives those often-surreal 500-plus days in her new book, Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey St.).
Being in the “front row” meant being publicly taunted by Trump (who alternated, Tur writes, between “berating me and buttering me up”), feeling threatened by emboldened rally crowds angry at the “fake news media,” and requiring the watchful protection of private security and the Secret Service because of death threats.
Here are a few of the “Unbelievable” moments from Tur’s colorful memoir:
A vision in orange
► On July 8, 2015, Tur goes to Trump Tower to interview the candidate. As he arrives in the lobby, she observes: “Certain people have a presence that’s bigger than their physical size, an ability to ripple the air. They fill the room with significance, or at least a perfect imitation of it. Trump has that kind of presence.
“And he’s orange. There’s no other way to describe him. He’s the color of orange marmalade, perhaps a shade darker, like marmalade on toast.”
During his CPAC speech, President Trump again called “the fake news the enemy of the people,” but this time he elaborated on his meaning. USA TODAY NETWORK
Calling out ‘Little Katy’
► In December 2015, Trump tweets that Tur is a “3rd rate” and “dishonest” reporter for her coverage of his proposed Muslim ban. Days later, at a rally in Charleston, S.C., he calls her out with the same accusations: “She’s back there, little Katy. She’s back there. What a lie it was…”
Tur writes that “my heart stops. My lungs clench….I force a laugh…I throw in a wave for good measure. But inside I’m terrified. Men are standing on their chairs to get a look at me. They want to see me as they jeer.”
Things get even uglier
► As the campaign progresses, Trump rallies grow rowdier: “Trump’s supporters are never quiet. They also play a lot dirtier. They call me ugly and dumb. They accuse me of sleeping my way to my job. They go after my family, and especially my father, who is transgender….They threaten my life.”
Refusing to be shushed
► After Trump becomes the Republican nominee, he gives a press conference in June 2016 in South Florida. Tur presses him on his suggestion that maybe Russia should track down Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.
She writes: “I interrupt to get him back on topic. Trump shoots me down.
“ ‘Here’s what gives me pause,” he continues, and I try again to get him back to the point.
“And he snaps.
“ ‘Be quiet,” he says. ‘I know you want to, you know, save her (Clinton).’
“Did he just shush me? The whole exchange was a matter of seconds, but did he just shush me?”
As Tur’s Twitter notifications blow up, she keeps pressing.
“I kept asking Trump the question. I kept asking until he finally answered.”