In an essay for Marie Claire, MSNBC/NBC reporter Katy Tur writes that, after Donald Trump launched a personal attack against her at a South Carolina rally, she had to be accompanied out by Secret Service agents. Tur, who’s been covering Trump for the networks for the last year, became the focus of the Republican candidate’s ire after she live-tweeted protests at an earlier North Carolina rally.
In the tweets, Tur did what she’s paid to do and tweeted about the presence of protestors who were attempting to disrupt Trump’s speech. She noted in the tweets that the protest was effective and Trump ended his speech and left the stage. Following her tweets, Trump followed a now-familiar pattern with reporters, particularly female reporters. Tur writes:
In the hours that followed, Trump took his complaints public, trashing me and CBS News reporter Sopan Deb for the coverage.
“@KatyTurNBC & @DebSopan [sic] should be fired for dishonest reporting,” he tweeted. “@KatyTurNBC, 3rd rate reporter & @SopanDeb @CBS lied.”
He demanded I apologize.
I didn’t, so Trump decided to go further in [South Carolina], pointing his finger squarely at me and launching a personal attack as millions of Americans watched at home.
At the rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Trump howled about the dishonest media, calling out Tur by name. “She’s back there. Little Katy. She’s back there,” Trump said, referring to a grown woman as “little.” Trump continued, calling Tur a “third rate” reporter and her tweets a “lie.” Tur writes that the crowd began booing her, quickly turning on her “like a large animal, angry and unchained.” The Secret Service walked Tur to her car and that, Tur notes, is when the reality of the “incident sank in.”
Since Trump singled her out, Tur says that she’s been on the receiving end of threats and an endless stream of harassment on social media, another aspect of covering the Trump campaign that’s, by now, familiar to a number of female reporters, including Megyn Kelly, Julia Ioffe, and Michelle Fields.
In a February piece for the Washington Post, Paul Farhi wrote that personal insults were part and parcel of covering the Trump campaign. Yet women seemed to fare worse. One female reporter told the Post that covering Trump’s rallies feels “scary,” a word that Tur also used to describe the feeling of being singled out by the Republican candidate and the subsequent fallout.
Trump’s treatment of female reporters seems to be a constant of his campaign, as though fear and intimidation will lead to more sympathetic coverage. Tur’s piece is a striking portrait of the realities of harassment, particularly when an entire community sees it as something to be cheered rather than condemned.