Katy Tur - On the Road to the Trump White House in "Unbelievable" - Extended Interview

Extended - September 25, 2017 - Katy Tur 09/25/2017 Views: 24,867

NBC News correspondent Katy Tur reflects on Donald Trump berating her at his rallies during the 2016 election and explains how his candidacy is reflected in his presidency. (9:55)

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My guest tonightis an NBC news correspondent,

MSNBC anchor,and author of the new book,

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat

to the Craziest Campaign in American History.

Please welcome Katy Tur!

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

-Hello.-Welcome back to the show, Katy.

-Thanks for having me back.-Uh, congratulations

on your book doing really well.

Uh, it is, honestly,one of the craziest stories.

You're-you're not lyingwhen you say "front-row seat

to the craziest campaignin American history."

This is a bookabout your journey,

and it really is, like, a weirdromantic story with no romance

involving yourselfand now President Donald Trump.

That's the weirdest way anyone'sever described the book.

-I try my best. I try. -I'veheard a lot of descriptions,

and that is, by far,the weirdest way.

It really is though. When I...when I read the story--

and I-I don't knowif you felt it--

it almost felt like there wasthis strange connection

between yourselfand Donald Trump.

Did you feel thatduring the campaign?

Well, listen, I was therefrom the very beginning.

Donald Trump-- I don't knowif you guys remember this--

was not taken seriouslywhen he announced his candidacy.

-Oh, we remember. We remember.-Uh, yeah.

Um, "Donald Trumpis running for president.

It's gonna be so hilarious."

-Right. -Those were whatthe headlines were like.

People were calling hima carnival barker,

a-a sideshow, um, and the like.

And I was there almost fromday one, from June 30 of 2015.

I was the only national newscorrespondent

that was following himfull-time,

the only person really takinghis campaign seriously.

So he would see mefor-for months on end

-as the only familiar face ina crowd full of strangers. -Wow.

For months and monthsand months and months.

And he would call me outover and over and over again.

He would, uh, berate mefrom the stage

when he didn't likemy reporting, which was often.

Um... he would, uh...

he would try to charm mebehind the scenes.

Or if I did somethingthat he liked

or if I said somethingthat he liked, um,

one time,he kissed me on the cheek.

That-that story,I feel like you say now

and it's like,"He kissed me on the cheek."

But it wasn't, like,a welcome kiss on the cheek.

When-when you read the storyin the book,

it really is a harrowing momentthat, for me,

reminded me of the Access Hollywood tape. Right?

You see that tape where DonaldTrump gets off the-the bus

after "pussy grab,"and then he goes...

just before he gets off the bus,he goes,

"I'm gonna put in some Tic Tacs'cause you never know

"if you're gonna kiss her.I just...

Sometimes I kiss the woman.I can't control it."

And you tell the storyin a similar fashion,

-like he just kissed you outof nowhere. -Well,

this was many, many, many,many months before that.

This was November of 2015,

and I wason the Morning Joe set.

It was a remote show that wewere doing from New Hampshire.

I was talking aboutDonald Trump's change in tone

from the debatethe previous night.

He wasn't going after peoplethat...

in the same way that he hadbeen, um, the previous week.

Not the same amount of vitriol.

Um, and I get offstage

and I'm waiting for Trumpand his, uh, team to arrive.

He walks in the side door,sees me immediately

and walks right up to me,puts his arms on my shoulders

and kisses me on the cheek.

If you kiss me on the cheek,Trevor, that's fine.

That's nice. We are...We're essentially colleagues.

And you're...I'm a guest on your show.

You're not covering meas a... as a journalist.

-I'm not running for president.-Right.

-You're telling me this now.-Um...

I wasted an opportunity,but okay.

-(laughter) -I didn't... I wentin with the hug, but okay.

Now you tell me. Thanks, Katy.

-It's just... it's inappropriatein that setting. -Right.

It's not a social situation,it is not a...

I'm not a member of his family,I'm not a member...

I'm not his friend, I'm notsomebody that he works with.

I'm coveringa presidential campaign.

And I remember in that moment,

the first thing I felt was,

nobody is goingto take me seriously

-if anybody sees that.-Wow.

Luckily,the cameras weren't rolling,

but a minute later, Donald Trumpis on set with Joe and Mika

saying, "What happened to Katy?

She was so great,I just had to kiss her."

-Yeah, he bragged about it...-On national television.

Yeah, he bragged about itimmediately afterwards,

and it feels like that was,in many ways, the story.

There was the story ofDonald Trump on the campaign.

But what I genuinely lovedabout this book is

that you were taking usthrough the personal journey

of somebody who, in many ways,was having the same experience

-or similar one to Donald Trump.It was parallel. -Yeah.

Because you never coveredpolitics before this, right?

Donald Trump was neverin politics bef...

I would arguehe might not even be now, right?

-(laughter) -And you were bothon this journey together.

Do you think, in some ways,he related to you?

Was there, like, a connectionbetween him and yourself

where he was like,"Oh, Katy, you and I--

-we're on this journeytogether?" -Well, we're both

political neophytes,we were both outsiders.

I was based in London.

I came back just to say helloto my bosses,

then got thrownon this campaign.

I didn't understand politics.

You could argue

that Donald Trump didn't reallyunderstand politics, either.

-Right.-Although, he did win, so maybe

he understood it betterthan any of us did.

Um, and I felt likethat helped me,

because I could assesshis support in a genuine way

without all the, uh,you know, the baggage

of being a Washington insider.

And I mean that in a good way.

People in Washingtonknow their stuff.

-Right, right, right.-They're great reporters.

They understand the dynamicsof Washington.

They did not understand Trumpbecause he broke all the rules.

So I-I came into it, you know,

not knowing anyof the political terminology.

Neither did Donald Trump.

And it allowed me to, I think,honestly see why

he was resonatingand try to convey that.

I kept telling people...

I was like that bad Simpsons meme--

"Old Man Yells at Cloud"--

-(laughter) ...every morningin our editorial meeting,

because I would geton the phone, and I would say,

"Guys, I know that the Access Hollywood tape is a big deal."

-Yes. -"I know it's especiallya big deal in Washington,

"it's a big deal in New York,

"but people on the campaigntrail do not care.

"They don't hear it.They're not... They don't care.

"They don't care about Russia.

"They don't careabout the controversy.

"They like him,and they're not listening

to any of the reportingthat we're doing on him."

It's interesting that you say,people don't hear it,

because they were hearing it,

but they weren'talmost feeling it.

They weren't listening to it.The....

The-There's a... there's a statthat you have in the book

that was reallyeye-opening to me,

and talkingabout the evening broadcast,

like, you know,the national news,

and how Donald Trumpgot way more coverage

than Hillary Clinton, but only32 minutes was about policy.

-Yes. -I thinkin previous election years,

it was something like114 minutes

and then, like,200 minutes on policy.

Whereas with Donald Trump,it was only 32 minutes.

Do you think...that journalists

could have done a better jobof keeping it on policy,

or was Trump the first personwho was willing to risk

scandalizingthe entire election,

you know, and getting itaway from that conversation?

Donald Trump had no policy.

There wasn't policyto cover with him.

-It was very limited.-Right.

I mean, he hada Muslim ban proposal,

but it didn't...and he had a tax plan,

this pseudo-tax plan, but hedidn't really get into policy

on the campaign trail.

And whenever he did,he would immediately bury it

with another controversyor getting into some sort

of personal fight with Ted Cruzor Hillary Clinton

or Marco Rubioor Ben Carson or the pope

-or the podium in the...in the Oval Office. -(laughter)

I mean, it just,the list goes on and on.

So would I have likedto have covered more policy?

Absolutely. But he was making itreally difficult to do so.

I wanted to talk and putDonald Trump supporters on TV

every night on NBC Nightly News,

but the manjust kept saying things

that we could not ignore.

He's fighting with the familyof a Gold Star...

-Right. -a Gold Star family.You can't ignore that.

He's calling on Russia to hackinto Hillary Clinton's e-mail.

You can't ignore that.

It was one after the otherafter the other.

Um, looking back, though,and really, you know, analyzing

how we covered this campaign,

I think it's a discussionthat we have to have

to figure out how in the worldwe're gonna cover 2020,

especially if Donald Trumpis the Republican candidate.

Before I let you go,you did say in the book

that you would like to cover himrunning for president again,

which he'salready started somehow.

But... looking at what youlearned from the first campaign,

is there somethingthat you would do differently,

is there something where,as Katy, you would go,

"Okay, that's a mistake I made,"or, "That's a trick that he used

that I can now workon using against him"?

How would you coverDonald Trump, a man

-who still has no policies?-Well, I'm not somebody

who's trying to do anythingagainst him; that's not my job.

I'm not out there to convinceany of you how to vote.

If I were, I would hope that you

just wouldn't trustanything I said.

Um... our job as...

and my job as a reporter isto just contextualize the person

and to fact-check themwhen they need to be,

and to dive in to not onlytheir support but their policy.

I... If I do cover him again,if he does run again--

these are all very big ifs--

um, I would like to make surefrom the outset,

we cut through the noise,

we don't get distractedby every little tweet,

we don't... we're not...

uh... we don't fallinto that trap

where it's just Donald Trump,um, trying to...

I guess go on the attackas opposed to trying to suss out

-exactly what he will doin his second term. -Right.

Then, again, I mean,I think the way we covered 2016

really did show howhe would behave as president.

It's not somebody who cares muchabout, um, policy.

He doesn't get into healthcarewhenever he, um...

is trying to talk about it.

He knows the...the very broad strokes.

He just wantsto get something done.

And I think that was veryapparent on the campaign trail.

This book is oneof the most insightful.

It's... an amazing journeythat you took

on the road with Donald Trump.

The most romanticunromantic book I've ever ready.

Thank you so muchfor being on the show again.

-I really appreciate it.-Thanks, Trevor.

-(cheering, applause)-Katy anchors MSNBC Live

weekdays at 2:00 p.m.

Unbelievable is available now.

Katy Tur, everybody.

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