President Trump has had dust-ups with various members of the media since he became a public figure in the 1970s.
Recently, he has clashed with John Harwood, Jorge Ramos and Christopher Cuomo over everything from polling to immigration to national security. His set-tos with Jim ‘Fake News’ Acosta and Joe Scarborough are the stuff of legend.
But when he attacks Katy Tur, it’s because she is a woman. When he calls her a “third-rate reporter” and “Little Katy,” he’s not deriding her for what he perceives as biased, relentlessly negative coverage. It’s because she is a woman. He tells her in July 2015 she’ll never be president but not because he doesn’t think she will be president. It’s because she is a woman.
That’s the view Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post sympathetically took in his review of her new book “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History.”
Lozado says Tur asserts in the book she covered the campaign “with one audience in mind: the American voter.” But the book, he says, seems written for her colleagues on the trail – “full of insider reminiscences, professional self-doubt, last-second flights, lousy hotels and gossip about which NBC News embed was making out in a garage with which CNN staffer.
“Yet what elevates ‘Unbelievable’ beyond one more pedestrian campaign memoir is Tur’s skill at capturing the constant indignities of campaign reporting while female, including the worst indignity of all: enduring the fixation of Trump himself.”
President Trump pulls out of the Paris Climate Accords, and he is a destroyer of the environment. He rescinds Obama-era guidance that every school in the nation build separate bathrooms for transsexual students, and he is a homophobe. He says there are good people among the haters in Charlottesville, and he is a racist.
He criticizes a reporter who happens to be female, and it is because she is female and he doesn’t deal well with females – despite having his own daughter in business with him, numerous female executives in his various companies and the first female to lead a winning presidential campaign in American history.
When Trump tells Tur she’ll never be president – “Neither will you,” she thinks to herself, according to the book – it’s not because he doesn’t like her reporting or considers her unprepared. It’s “to undercut her confidence.”
Perhaps she internalizes her indignities in this way because to do otherwise would be to admit she was reporting on something she held in complete contempt.
She called Trump’s campaign staff the “Bad News Bears of politics, the people the other candidates didn’t pick.” She said his supporters could be broken down into such categories as “Cowboy America, Biker America, Angry Conservative Uncle America and Mom America, among others.”
They could be nice, sensible people on the outside of a Trump rally, she wrote. But once inside, “these people are unchained. They can drop their everyday niceties. They can yell and scream and say things they’d never say out loud on the outside.”
They can do all this because “Trump is crude, and in his halo of crudeness other people get to be crude as well.” This halo, Lozado says, and not intervention from Bernie Sanders-paid thugs, “encompasses the violence that emerged at some Trump events.”
At the end, after a few chapters on how hard it is to get your makeup on so you can appear on television every day, she addresses her colleagues: “Think about what we’ve been through. For the rest of our lives we’ll need each other just to vouch for stories that our children, spouses and other friends surely won’t believe.”
But she should have taken a longer look at the advice she relays earlier in the book. An old television journalist told her to remain professional no matter what she was covering or how. “No one cares,” the mentor told her. “The news is not about you.”