A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
Seat to the Craziest Campaign in
American History. New York: Morrow,
This engrossing book seems to be made up of at least three strands: 1) MSNBC reporter Katy Tur’s narrative of her assignment to follow then candidate Donald Trump throughout the entirety of the 2016 presidential campaign. 2) In doing so she shares a great deal about what it’s like to be a reporter placed in such a position, the great moments, the uncomfortable moments, the shortchanging of her personal life. 3) And speaking of that, Tur interweaves bits of her personal life—including her childhood and youth, her love life, and her travels—into the weft of her fascinating storytelling.
With regard to 1) she has mixed feelings about leaving her assignment which places her in London, England. Accepting it means moving to New York, giving up her flat in London, her friends there, a boyfriend in Paris, I believe. Turning it down would mean giving up the opportunity to cover one of the most controversial presidential candidates in history, and might also mean squelching her career by not playing ball with the producers at MSNBC.
Katy Tur shares with the reader the details of her travels with DT: flying coach, packing economically yet in a way that allows her to appear fresh on camera (dry shampoo?); a significant lack of sleep because she can be wakened at any moment to be given an assignment; keeping up with tens of thousands of work-related emails, many of which she winds up dumping. Sad, sad meals grabbed here and there, the lack of exercise on any given day or week. But most of all, we see what it feels like to be on camera nation-wide:
“Hardball wants me live. I take a deep breath, stand up, put in my earpiece, and hook back into MSNBC’s live coverage.
‘Well, let’s go to Katy Tur. Katy, are you used to this kind of trash talk from him?’ I hear Chris Matthews but I can’t understand what he’s saying. Trump is still bellowing behind me. Chris tries again. ‘I’m trying to couch this in the most politically correct way. Are you used to the trash talk that Donald Trump threw at you tonight?’” (77).
From her parents, especially, father, she learns the thrill of the hunt. As a child, she goes up with her dad in his ‘copter, and one point she, without benefit of a harness, hangs out the cockpit a bit too far. Her dad says little but apparently turns white. At thirty-two or -three Tur must feel jaded in some sense, as anyone who’s been in a business for a decade must, but she’s got a long career ahead of her if she can sustain this kind of reporting and writing—if she can continue to hang out there without a harness.
NEXT TIME: My Journey of States-6 Illinois