Three years ago — after 16 years with Fox, including co-hosting “Fox & Friends Weekend” — Alisyn Camerota left the network.
She joined CNN. She co-anchors the “New Day” morning show. She reports on breaking international stories. She’s one of their top journalists.
It’s not easy. Camerota leaves Westport — where she has lived since 2012 — at 3:30 every morning. On the plus side: With very little traffic, her commute is just an hour.
If she was still at Fox, Camerota would be one of President Trump’s favorite TV personalities.
At CNN, she — and the entire network — are in his crosshairs.
“With some regularity, we report a story in the morning, and a tweet comes out directly correlated to something we or a guest said,” Camerota notes.
“We know the president is watching. And we know he sometimes objects to a question or angle we take.
“It comes with the territory. We’re not there to curry favor. But I don’t see us as the ‘opposition,’ or an ‘enemy of the people.’ Our job is to hold people accountable for what they say and do.”
That’s not to say working at CNN is easy.
“If it’s been a particularly rough day — if we got called out at a press briefing — we’ll remark on it,” Camerota admits.
“But it hasn’t changed how we do our job. I don’t sense any chilling effect. In some way, it’s invigorated us. It’s helped us define our role, and sharpened our purpose.”
In fact, Camerota says, wherever she is, people thank her for doing what she does.
In Westport, some are friends. Others are strangers.
Earlier this year, she moderated a panel with diehard Trump supporters. One was convinced that 3 to 5 million people had voted illegally. As Camerota pressed her — and the woman’s answers grew “increasingly illogical” — the journalist involuntarily slapped her forehead. A video of the moment went viral.
The next day, while shopping in a local store, a woman approached Camerota, and slapped her own head. Neither said a word.
Camerota’s days are full. But with the publication yesterday of her 1st novel — Amanda Wakes Up — her life is about to get even busier.
The book was 6 years in the making. In 2011 — as the ’12 presidential campaign was getting underway — Camerota was intrigued by the cast of candidates. They included colorful folks like Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
“There was no dearth of stories to cover,” the journalist says. She began taking notes.
She did not know her vignettes would become a book. But — because she was a weekend anchor and “could actually have a hobby” — she began writing.
Amanda follows an ambitious young reporter who lands a plum gig at a big-time cable news station — and quickly learns her “dream” job may be a nightmare.
Samantha Bee calls it “a hilarious, eye-opening glimpse into the TV news trenches, from one who’s had to navigate them backwards and in heels.”
Booklist adds, “Camerota’s timely send-up will engross readers from both sides of the political spectrum.”
“It was fun to assign my own ethical dilemmas to a fictional character,” the author says. “I let her figure stuff out.”
So how much of Amanda is Alisyn?
“All of it,” she answers quickly. “But the difference is, she figures everything out in 1 1/2 years. It took me 25 years.” That includes pre-Fox stints with ABC and NBC.
Amanda, it turns out, “is not me. She’s a distant cousin of mine.”
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 27, 7 p.m.), Camerota hosts a book signing at the Westport Barnes & Noble.
As for the rest of the summer, Camerota jokes: “I’m going to take a long nap.”
But, she continues, “My ‘day job’ has a breathless pace. I’m writing furiously during a 2-minute commercial break, trying to update a story or introduce the next guest.
“There’s something therapeutic and relaxing about sitting with my keyboard, trying to figure things out while writing a novel. I’m not sure — but I may have more stories to tell.”
Of course, she will also take time to appreciate summer in Westport.
“It’s stunningly beautiful,” Camerota says. “It’s so green. The flowers are in bloom. I love the beach, and Saugatuck Sweets. This is a glorious time to be here.”
So true. That’s definitely not Fake News.