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Conan O'Brien asks NBC's Katy Tur about Trump's obsession with her, the Backstreet Boys, and fake steaks

Conan (Screenshot: TBS)

Conan O’Brien’s self-deprecating goofball shtick doesn’t traditionally incorporate many hard edges when it comes to politics. Sure, he takes his monologue Donald Trump potshots, but the host’s onstage persona rarely infuses his political material with much resembling the harder-edged anger of his late night contemporaries. (Human Build-A-Bear Jimmy Fallon being the notable exception, making the affable O’Brien look like 1980s Mike Wallace with a hangover.) O’Brien does, however, expertly set up his guests to tee off on all things Trump pretty regularly, as he did on Thursday’s show. There, he allowed fellow late night host Jim Jefferies do his cheerfully profane, roughneck thing before inviting NBC News correspondent and author Katy Tur to share her simultaneously creepy, unnerving, and ludicrous tales of then-candidate Trump’s bizarre campaign trail behavior.

O’Brien introduced Tur, there to publicize her new book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat To The Craziest Campaign In American History, after a montage of just a few of the many times that Trump singled out Tur for abuse from his “fake news”-chanting minions, and what any HR rep in the world would call sexual harassment during the campaign. (It closes with Trump telling now-nemeses Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, on-air, that he’d given Tur “a big kiss” backstage. Ew.) O’Brien, characteristically, breezed by the utter squirminess of a presidential candidate making such comments about a reporter in his press pool, joking about Tur now having to endure another “weird, orange-haired freak.” Typically cute stuff, although when Conan returned to the theme, speculating that Trump “might be in love,” Tur could only smile uncomfortably and say a noncommittal, “I don’t know.” But Tur’s stories of Trump’s behavior spoke for themselves.

Katy Tur (Screenshot: TBS)

Like their first interaction, where, at a New Hampshire poolside presser, Trump boomed out to the crowd that Tur (to whom he had never spoken at that point) wasn’t paying attention to his killer primary “Mexicans are rapists” material. (He was pacified when Tur told him that she was dutifully tweeting out everything he was saying.) Or the time when she and the rest of the media were allowed to examine the Trump-branded products the candidate had assembled to refute Mitt Romney’s accusations that the Trump commercial empire was one big con game—only to see that every one of the products (which were being guarded by the Secret Service, for some reason) was, indeed, one type of fraudulent or another. (The “Trump steaks” he exhibited were, according to Tur, hastily and ineptly mocked-up meat from another company entirely.) Add to that Tur’s revelation that Trump’s tour music consisted of about the same five songs (“Tiny Dancer?” Okay. But “Uptown Girl” and some late-campaign Backstreet Boys on a 510-day loop?) which nearly drove the intrepid reporter insane.

In the end, according to Tur, Trump’s animosity toward the media—and Tur specifically—can be partly traced back to her first interview with Trump. Noting her small stature, Tur yet asserted that confessed serial woman-mauler Trump “couldn’t push [her] around” as she simply kept challenging candidate Trump’s fact-challenged statements with readily available, verifiably contradictory reality. (A pattern that has now stretched from fake steak, to crowd sizes, to the top U.S. tax rate, to any number of things that caught-on-tape utterances from his own mouth prove false.) Speaking of the off-the-charts bananas steak presser (which, Tur states, turned a campaign speech into a Trump-hosted “infomercial”), Tur could only marvel that this person who is now in the White House, from the start, has looked hard-working reporters right in the eyes and baldly asserted things that are simply untrue “as if no one had eyes.” That, as much as an all-boy band playlist, can drive a journalist completely nuts if she doesn’t have a sense of humor. And a book deal.

To see Tur talk Trump, check out the Conan site here.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.