Unbelievable: My front-row seat to the craziest campaign in American history
By Katy Tur
Katy Tur has broadcast journalism in her DNA. Her parents, Bob and Marika Gerrard, founded the Los Angeles News Service which saw them hang out of helicopters to film breaking news from the city and beyond. Sometimes, with their daughter in tow, they would capture scenes that would be broadcast around the world, including the slow-speed police chase of OJ Simpson.
As NBC correspondent for Donald Trump’s winning run for the US presidency, Tur would be required to dig deep into her journalistic heritage.
The gig – which her bosses assured her would last no more than six weeks – ended up lasting over 500 days. During that time she visited 40 states, made more than 3,800 live television reports and, all too often, became the target of candidate Trump’s ire: “little Katy,” “disgraceful,” “third-rate,” and “not nice” were just a few of the epithets hurled her way from the podium.
By the end of the campaign, she needed private security at all of Trump’s rallies and, on one occasion, had to be escorted to her vehicle by the Secret Service – such was the scale of the vitriolic abuse she was facing from his supporters.
No wonder, then, she chose “Unbelievable” as the book’s title.
Tur’s writing style is bright and accessible – this is a book that can be read anywhere. She is particularly strong at capturing what it was really like to be a high-profile representative of the news media at a Trump rally. The feeling when a multitude of heads turn her way and people “who outside the arena could be your firefighter, cashier, or neighbor, friendly and polite, 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”.
Less impressive, though, is the way the book is structured. Starting at the Trump victory party – “I’m about to throw up” is the memorable opening line – it bounces around all over the place. This is fine, to a point, but at various points it ends up losing the narrative thread and confusing the reader, this one anyway.
That said, this is a 2016 campaign memoir – one of many to hit bookstores this year – that has carved itself a vital niche in the market. A modern-day version of The Boys on the Bus, Tur’s dispatches from the trail are by turns entertaining and insightful, unbelievable yet believable, and well worth a read for anyone still hungry for yet more details about what was indeed “the craziest campaign in American history”.