CNN New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota sat down with us for a chat about her latest book, Amanda Wakes Up, how Trump has changed the 24/7 news cycle, and what it was like working for Roger Ailes at FOX.
For Americans who start their mornings with CNN, Alisyn Camerota is a familiar face. The morning show anchor, who shares her hosting duties with Chris Cuomo, made her debut on the network in 2014, after leaving FOX. Now, with a new book out, Camerota is dishing on her career and the inspiration for her fictional novel, Amanda Wakes Up.
I can hardly manage any projects outside of work, so how did you manage to write this book on top of all the things you already do at CNN? ALISYN CAMEROTA: I fear that my book, Amanda Wakes Up, has launched a national inferiority complex, because so many people tell me, “This is not possible!” And the truth is, it’s not possible. So, let me just alleviate anyone’s inferiority. I started writing this when I was a weekend anchor. I was at FOX, on Fox & Friends, as a weekend anchor. If you are a weekend anchor, you have some down time. You’re not working five days a week. You can have a hobby.
So, it would have been impossible to write this in the heat of the 2016 election with a full-time, demanding job. I don’t know how anyone can write a book when they have a full-time job. I don’t know how they ever could do it with kids, and juggling all of that. So, no, you have to have sort of a part-time job, in order to tackle the big stuff of it.
By the way, I enjoy watching you and Chris in the morning and your chemistry works really well. AC: Thank you. I hear that a lot, and I appreciate that. I think that we have something sort of fun and unique. You know, we have our Italian bond, which we’re happy to play to, for sure. And then, we both have totally different styles. But I think we respect each other, and it just works, at the moment.
I couldn't help but laugh when I saw you both reciting the Scaramucci dialogue from the New Yorker! You never know what's going to end up making the news these days. AC: We’re in the craziest news cycle that I’ve ever seen in my 25-plus years in the business. I mean, this is the most rapid-fire, breathless news cycle we’ve ever had. I generally try to go to sleep around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., and I used to be able to be able to predict, with some certainty, what would be on the show the following morning.
But now, I think I know what’s on the show, I think I know what our lead is, I think I know who our guests are, and when I wake up at 3:30 a.m., it’s all changed!
Because of Trump and his late-night tweets? AC: Absolutely! Late-night tweets, late-night statements, breaking news out of, say, the New York Times, or CNN, even. There will be leaks. There will be some sort of staff shakeup. I mean, things happen now, after 8 p.m., that changes the show.
I read the New York Times feature that came out over the summer where you talked about Roger Ailes and your time at FOX. What was it like working with him? AC: Roger was a complicated guy, and working for him was complicated. There were times that he was really charming, and really funny. He was quite a charismatic guy, larger than life. And there were times that it was really challenging, and he could be sort of bellicose and bullying. So, he was a mixed bag.
I am grateful for the things that he taught me about television. I think that he was a real television wizard. He was not a journalist. He didn’t claim to be a journalist. So, I think that I sometimes was frustrated by that, that there didn’t seem to be—journalistic standards were not as much his focus and concentration as good TV was.
Did the revelation that Gretchen Carlson had had her own run-ins with Roger surprise you? What was going through your mind when she came forward? AC: Just like for everybody else, just like you, I’m sure, it felt like a bombshell. It felt like it was a seismic event. But none of us could have predicted just how seismic. I mean, if you had said, the day before that, “One year from now, Bill O’Reilly will be gone, Roger Ailes will be gone from the network, Megyn Kelly will be gone, the world will look quite different. Donald Trump will be President.” You know, a lot has happened in the past year.
Is there anything you feel you're lacking in life that you'd still like to go out and get? AC: I’m happy, you know? It’s nice to feel content. Things are going really well with the book, which I’m really gratified by. I love my job. I love CNN. I love our purpose there, every day. I love my family. So, I don’t have a five-year plan, and things like that.