Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer in June. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Media critic

NBC News correspondent Katy Tur is out with a look-back book on her 500-plus days covering the Trump campaign. Titled “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History,” the journalist’s tell-most pairs the usual stories about campaign-trail drudgery and logistics with the highly unusual stories about Donald Trump and his fellow road warriors. In the midst of it all is a doozy of an anecdote regarding eventual and now-former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. The backdrop is Election Day afternoon, as Tur is explaining Trump’s “paths to victory” on “Meet the Press Daily” with colleague Chuck Todd. After finishing up, she tweets: 

Now, let “Unbelievable” take it away:

My phone rings while still in my hands.

Never good.

Hey, I say, trying to sound at ease.

Casual Katy.

It’s Sean Spicer, the communications director for the RNC.

Who told you there was frustration between the party and the campaign? he asks, in a tone somewhere between a growl and a yell. It’s not true.

I start to tell him about Ali Vitali’s reporting, but he interrupts.

Katy, I’m telling you it’s not true.

Sean, it’s not just Ali’s source.

Who’s saying it? he demands.

Well, this is easy.

Kellyanne Conway just said it on the air with Chuck Todd, I say.

What? Huh? What did she say?

Read my tweet, I say. She said she was disappointed she didn’t get the full support of the party.

Sean is silent for a half second.

I gotta go, he says.


To turn back the time machine: Conway told Todd that the Trump campaign didn’t receive the “full support of the Republican infrastructure” and lamented that “we have former presidents not voting for us, former nominees not voting for us.” And Vitali’s source ripped the Republican National Committee for coming up short on getting out the vote, according to “Unbelievable.”

Nor were Tur and Vitali on fresh turf here. Accounts of tensions between the Trump campaign and the RNC were a staple of 2016 campaign-trail journalism, with Tur contributing to the crop.

Yet: Spicer perhaps had cause to grumble. The Trump campaign relied to an extensive degree on RNC assistance with functions that had long been the province of presidential campaigns. As the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore and Rachel Shorey wrote months before the election, “Donald J. Trump is leaning heavily on Republican Party organizations to provide crucial campaign functions like getting out the vote, digital outreach and fund-raising, at a time when some leading Republicans have called for party officials to cut off Mr. Trump and focus instead on maintaining control of Congress.” The campaign’s reliance on the RNC exceeded that of any previous campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently the future White House press secretary didn’t care to litigate those points with an NBC News correspondent on election night.