Katy Tur: Donald Trump's media assault "put people's lives in danger"

NBC journalist Katy Tur reflects on access journalism in the age of Trump, on "Salon Talks" today

Published September 12, 2017 1:44PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump has been riding an anti-media wave for the past few years. Ever since he announced his candidacy, the media's critical coverage seems to have gotten under his skin and stayed. In the eyes of NBC News' Katy Tur, however, journalists are doing exactly what they should be doing.

"I think the role of the press is to be critical and not to accept everything at face value," Tur told Salon's Amanda Marcotte during a live "Salon Talks" interview today. "And that's why politicians don't like the press. It's not like all politicians love reporters. They all probably hate us, or at least can't stand us some of the time. Presidential candidates have always gone after the media. But he did it in a much more personal and direct way that put people's lives in danger."

Tur was a relative outsider to the campaign trail — the Trump campaign, which she started covering back in 2015, was her first. As she noted in her book, "Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History," that's something that she's proud of.

"I talk about press access in the book, and what it means to be an access journalist versus a journalist who is pushing to get the information out . . .  in the 'I'm going to look with a critical eye at everything you say and do' sort of way," she said.

The president isn't exactly a fan of hers. Early Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, "Fascinating to watch people writing books and major articles about me and yet they know nothing about me & have zero access. #FAKE NEWS!"

That tweet was seen, especially in journalism circles, as a shot across Tur's bow — especially as she embarks on her book tour. While Tur wouldn't confirm that the tweet was directed at her, she said that it didn't really matter.

"You don't need access to cover a politician. You don't need access to cover anyone, really, and to report the truth. And that's what I did every single day on the trail. And that's clearly what got under his skin."

Trump targeted Tur specifically several times during his presidential campaign. In June 2016, Trump called her "not a very good reporter." In 2015, he called her a "third-rate journalist."

And during this infamous July 2016 press conference, Tur and Trump sparred. After Trump called on Russia to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Tur asked if if he had "any qualms about asking a foreign government . . . to hack into a system of anybody’s in this country." When Tur tried to ask a follow-up question, Trump told her to "be quiet."

Just before the election, Trump once again targeted Tur, claiming she wasn't reporting adequately on his base of support. “Katy, you’re not reporting it, Katy,” Trump said to Tur in the middle of a 4,000-person rally. “But there’s something happening, Katy. There’s something happening, Katy.”

Tur responded later that day to MSNBC's Brian Williams, saying that Trump's claims that no one was reporting on his success were "factually untrue":

Oftentimes when he’s playing to the camera and saying we don’t move our cameras to show these crowds, the cameras are all looking in opposite directions showing the crowds. And, not to mention, we are penned in. The campaign doesn’t allow the cameras to even leave to go get more crowd pictures.

As the latest tweet would indicate, it's unlikely that Trump will be offering the olive branch to Tur any time soon.

Watch the full "Salon Talks" conversation between Tur and Marcotte on Facebook.

Tune into "Salon Talks" daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. ET /1 p.m. PT, streaming live on Salon and on Facebook

By Jeremy Binckes

MORE FROM Jeremy Binckes

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Donald Trump Elections 2016 Katy Tur Media Nbc Salon Talks