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May 2, 2024 54 mins

Alisyn Camerota went from a punk rock teen to a respected journalist anchoring for CNN, and now she is an author sharing her story of survival and success in her new memoir, "Combat Love." 

Alisyn opens up to Sophia about chasing her dreams of being a journalist, her experience working at Fox News under Roger Ailes, including sexual harassment, not buying into their mission statement, and transitioning from Fox to rival network CNN. 

Alisyn also talks about her decision to write a memoir, how writing helped heal her relationship with her mother, and the power of music in her life! 

Alisyn Camerota's new book, "Combat Love: A Story of Leaving, Longing, and Searching for Home," is available now. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone, It's Sophia. Welcome to Work in Progress. Hello Whips, Smarties,
we have a smarty on the podcast today. I am
joined by Alison Camarota. She is an American broadcast journalist

(00:24):
and a political commentator for CNN. She formerly was an
anchor of CNN's morning news show new Day, the co
host of the afternoon edition of CNN Newsroom, and she
served as host of CNN Tonight from twenty twenty two
to twenty twenty three. And Allison came from a history

(00:44):
at Fox News. I have so many questions for her
about what it was like to go and work for
a competitor, and I'm really curious about her experiences during
the me Too era at Fox. She has been an
incredible voice, both about her own experiences and also as
an anchor for a number of primetime specials on the topic,

(01:06):
including Tipping Point, Sexual Harassment in America and The Hunting
Ground Sexual Assault on Campus. She is really an incredible
advocate and an incredible journalist, and today I'm really looking
forward to hearing about her making the leap from anchor
to author. She's just released her memoir called Combat Love,

(01:27):
which is the story of two women mother and daughter
trying to forge their own paths and independence and find
their own happiness, success, and wholeness. I really am amazed
at how vulnerable she chose to be in this book,
and how she really brings us into her world of

(01:47):
nurture and neglect, parenting and personal freedom and helps us
ask the questions, what are we willing to sacrifice for
self actualization and happiness? Let's dive in with Alison. Hi, Allison,

(02:10):
how are you. I'm great, How are you great? Thank you.
I'm so thrilled to have you here today.

Speaker 2 (02:16):
Thank you. I was doing a shoot earlier today, about
an hour north of my home, and I got the
time wrong, so I thought that I was talking to
you at one my time. And so I was in
the back office of a grocery store chain, which is
like the least glamorous, grittiest place you've ever seen. It had,

(02:37):
you know, like an old calendar, not from this year,
and like yeah, things taped up and just like ratty bags.
And I was like, Oh, this is going to be
a glamorous shoot with Sophia. She's going to really get
a gist of my job.

Speaker 1 (02:51):
I totally get it. It's so funny. I think, whether
you know you're working in the news or in the
sort of film and television side, Like, I am always
wild when people come visit you on set and they go, wait, wait,
this is not what I thought. And you're like, yeah,
because you see a produced news show or you see
people like at the Golden Globes and you don't know,

(03:13):
like how insane the place is where the media gets
made to get it to that stage. You know, it's
so totally.

Speaker 2 (03:20):
Totally People are like, this is your green room coffee.
It's bile, you know, Yeah.

Speaker 1 (03:27):
I know, I love it well, I you know, jokes aside. Obviously,
I think you know, I'm such just a lover of
the news, and I think, you know, USC Annenberg School
of Journalism student me would not believe that I get
to be here and interview so many journalists that I

(03:49):
love and admire. So thank you for coming to join
me on the show today, my pleasure.

Speaker 2 (03:53):
And so you went to the school of communication or journalism.

Speaker 1 (03:57):
Yeah, journalism, I am. I went to you see to
get a BFA in theater and for me just realize
that the intensity of the program felt too narrow for me.
I had so many other interests in you know, political
science and the way the world works. And I found

(04:18):
journalism and a theater combo to be the perfect sort
of equation for me in school because I got to
really lean into what makes real stories so special and
how to communicate them well. And I think that, you know,
it's influenced my work certainly as an activist, and I
think certainly as an actor, because you've got to kind

(04:39):
of find the truth and the thing you're doing if
you're making a TV show or you know, writing an
op ed about somebody. So I really loved it.

Speaker 2 (04:47):
That's very cool, and I really appreciate what you're saying,
because storytelling is the bridge, you know. Storytelling is the
link between Yes, so many of our careers, whether it's acting,
whether it's a single or it's not just in the arts,
I mean even public policy, lawmakers. It's all storytelling. And
so really you realized that in particularly with the book

(05:09):
and being an author, I feel like those telling our
stories is what is the bridge between us. Yeah, regardless
of what you do.

Speaker 1 (05:16):
You know, Yeah, And I love and I can't wait
to dive into the book with you because to read
such a personal story, you know, this kind of excavation
work of family, and certainly I think what women inherit
through their familial line is so inspiring to me. And
I loved the way that you did this, and you're

(05:42):
saying something that really makes me think, you know, whether
it's you as a journalist going and writing a memoir
like this, or you know, what I have to figure
out if I'm going to go make a new movie
or something. I even think about it. My girlfriend Jessica
Malatti Rivera, whose work I'm sure you saw a lot
during the pandemic. You know, she's an incredible scientist and

(06:06):
helped really lead the forefront of the COVID tracking project
and so much advocacy for us. And she pointed out
that in the science and medical community there has been
such a lack of emphasis on the storytelling and that
her job, you know, the way she thinks of science
is science isn't finished until it's been clearly communicated, and

(06:29):
in particular to non scientists. And so when I think
about these ways that so many of us are realizing,
if we can't tell our stories to each other and
have them heard, we're failing the kind of human experiment
in a way. And it I guess I wonder was

(06:50):
kind of part of that craving to communicate what led
you to say, Okay, I'm really going to do it.
I'm going to work on this book, or or was
it something else.

Speaker 2 (07:01):
No, it was exactly that. I mean, what prompted me
is that we all wear masks. I mean, in your career,
obviously you play a part, and we all wear these masks.
And in the news you are playing a part. You're
playing yourself, but you're playing a very polished version of

(07:21):
your self. And so I started to think, because this
is what I always connected with the viewers. I always
connected with my interview subjects. But people would sometimes share
with me the impression that, like, well, you must have
had an easy life, Allison, or like you, you know,
things have worked out so beautifully for you. Look at
how great you look, you know, on me. And I realized, oh,

(07:43):
the mask is too convincing, you know, Like it's when
I have the fake eyelashes on in the perfectly poffed
hair and the jewel tones, that that can give the
impression that it's been easy, but of course it hasn't
been easy, and that in that way, it was a
divide the screen itself is a divider between us, and

(08:04):
so I just felt like peeling off the mask might
be a bridge and help people understand. Oh no, yes,
I did get to achieve my dream, for which I'm very,
very grateful, but it is a total survival story, and
there were a lot of obstacles and you know, despair
on the way to getting that dream.

Speaker 1 (08:26):
Yeah. Yeah, I think what happens when us three dimensional
people get made into two dimensional you know, on screen
avatars essentially, is we lose all of our three dimensional
life and the dissonance between those things can be so jarring.

Speaker 2 (08:46):
I think that's such a good point because by definition,
journalism requires you to be two dimensional, because really you're
just a conduit. You're supposed to the way we were
trained in you know, the eighties in journalism is don't
make your self the story. You know, you are just
the platform you're helping. You're the mouthpiece to help somebody
who doesn't have a voice or who wants to amplify

(09:09):
their voice. And I get it. I believe that. I
think that's been great. But at some point, and it
was somewhere around I think George Floyd's killing for me,
that I started thinking you know, it would be really
helpful if I could say to some of these folks
on the screen, I've been there. You know, I know
what it's like to be broke. I know what it's like.

(09:31):
I I somehow became close right after George Floyd's killing
because I interviewed his brother Forloness. I think we were
the first national interview that he did, and his grief
was so raw. It was the day after killing. His
grief was so raw, but his voice was already so profound,
and I was just struck by his strength. And somehow

(09:53):
I've become friends with George Floyd's girlfriend, and I wanted
to be when I interviewed her, and I wanted to
be able to say I get it. You know, I
have been in love with people who've struggled with substance
abuse and people who've been broken. I've been broken. I
know what it's like to be desperate, and I know
what it's like to lose people. But that's not our job.

(10:14):
So I felt like I had to keep people at
an arm's length and not share what I knew to
be true from my own story, And so that was
kind of motivation to actually publish it.

Speaker 1 (10:25):
You know, that's really cool. How did you first get
into journalism?

Speaker 2 (10:31):
So I was a teenager and I really really wanted
to be seen and heard, you know. I wanted to
be seen and heard my whole life. I mean from
some of my memories and the book, I talk about
how starting at about five years old, I had this
invisible cameraman that started following me around everywhere. And I
would talk to my invisible cameraman and be like, did
you just see that? I hope you got a shot

(10:53):
at that. That was crazy, you know. And so I've
had to in writing the book analyze what was that
phenomenon I was doing. And I think it was wanting
to be validated, wanting to be seen and heard, and
installing some like witness to my life. I was an
only child, so I was lonely some of the time,
and I think I wanted, like, I don't know, supervision

(11:14):
or a witness or something. And so I always had
that dream to be seen and heard, and then it
crystallized when I was fifteen. I was watching Phil Donnie,
who was who was like the quintessential talk show host
of you know, the eighties, and he was running around
his studio with a microphone, and he just looked so

(11:34):
energetic and relevant and powerful, and I thought, what's that
job called? And somebody told me it's called broadcast journalists
and I was like, oh, I want to be a
broadcast journalist. That moment on, I just set my sights
on that and looked for schools and majored in broadcast

(11:54):
journalism and decided that.

Speaker 1 (11:57):
Was for me. That's so cool. Back in just a minute.
But here's a word from our sponsors. Something I'm really
curious about as a journalism fan is the the difference
is between these big networks, and you've been at the biggest.

(12:19):
You know, you worked at Fox for years prior to
joining CNN in twenty fourteen. Was it, because again you
said earlier, you know sometimes people will look at you
up there as an anchor and think it's all easy.
Was it totally bonkers to move from one news network
to Arrival? What was that experience like for you? Behind

(12:43):
the scenes?

Speaker 2 (12:44):
It was bonkers. I mean it was bonkers, not just
because I've moved from one network two Arrival, because I
think the people can go from ABC News to NBC
News or NBC to CBS and it not being as
much of a culture shock. Going from Box to CNN
was a particularly you know, daring, hat trick or whatever

(13:07):
you want to call that. You know, backbend, I felt
personally that my journalism skills were portable, that I tried
to do good journalism at Fox. I tried to always
have the facts. I tried to come equipped with the
evidence for whoever I was interviewing, and I just transferred
my skills to CNN. So for me, it wasn't like

(13:29):
I didn't feel I had to relearn anything. But I
think it was total cognitive dissonance for the viewers because
to them, Fox has trained people to think that you're
on a team. You know, Fox is really a tribe,
and they made news kind of tribal in a way
that it had never been before. You know, people didn't
it wasn't like you were making a life choice if

(13:52):
you switched from CBS to NBC. But Fox really had
hardcore followers. So it felt like, I think a betrayal
to the viewers, and I had to kind of educate them.
I mean, some of them have been so kind I
must say to me, and have you know, reached out
on social media or whatever saying they missed me and
they loved me on there, and I've really appreciated that,

(14:12):
and I had to kind of educate them and say, like,
I'm doing the same thing I always did, and I
didn't want to be part of a team. I just
wanted to help people tell their stories. And so you know,
for me, it wasn't at shocking, but not many people
do it.

Speaker 1 (14:26):
Yeah, well, I think it's actually quite when I have
examined my own thoughts about it, as I've observed the transition.
For you, I actually think it's hopeful because, as you said,
Fox has made the news so tribal, and you know,

(14:48):
maybe not everybody knows this, but those of us who
are obsessed with the news do that. You know, they've
been sued in court for lying to viewers, and their
lawyers say, well, any any sober news viewer knows were
not a news program. We're an opinion show. And I
go like, oh my god, this is the legal defense
in court. What is happening here? And I find it
really refreshing that as a journalist you can say I'm

(15:11):
doing journalism everywhere and anywhere. I'm not going to abide
by this very strange development into tribal coverage. And you
know you've talked about this, so I hope it's okay
for me to ask. But you talked so inspiringly about
what you faced at Fox. You were one of many

(15:34):
women there who faced sexual harassment and abuse. And I've
been so inspired by the way you all talked about that,
because my coworkers on my first show and I and
many of us on my next show had to talk
about this stuff as well. Was that part of why
you wanted to leave? Or was it that it was

(15:55):
getting so tribal that you didn't want to be there anymore?
Or was it sort of just a whole package of
this is awful I got to go.

Speaker 2 (16:03):
I think it got worse. I think that it got
worse as Bo's got more successful. I think that Roger
ails that the boss for whom I worked, felt that
he saw what the audience wanted, and what he started
doing was giving the audience what they wanted at the
expense of truth, at the expense of facts, because what

(16:27):
to him, the best currency, the biggest currency, was winning
and ratings. And sure, we all like ratings, I get it,
that's the business model. However, at what cost? And so
he started, you know, allowing different you know, presenters. I
don't want to call them anchors because they they at Fox.

(16:47):
They use this language as though they're a news network,
but they don't follow the rules of newsporkers. Of course,
the viewers don't know that because nobody is giving them
a tutorial on journalism and one on one and exactly
what the rules of journalism are. But they don't use
solid sources or credible sources as we found out with
the dominion lawsuit, as you just referenced, and they end

(17:11):
up having to pay seven hundred and eighty seven million
dollars as a result of not using credible sources. So
that just isn't allowed at other networks because there are
rules of journalism, for one. So the idea that just
keep giving the audience what they want, keep giving the
viewers what they want, it ends up hurting obviously the
viewers because the viewers don't end up knowing the truth.

(17:33):
And when lo and behold somebody like Donald Trump says
that he actually won the election but he lost by
seven million, they take up arms and show up at
the capital. So I mean it has a real life,
immediate clause and effect. It's bad for everybody. I mean,

(17:54):
people are in prison right now because they believed those lawes.
So I could say that Roger, you know, I would
get in trouble there because he didn't like when I
would point out, I don't know, positive benefits or how
many people would benefit from Obamacare, he just stop talking
about that. I was like, and he told me, like

(18:17):
when I would say how many people were uninsured, he
would be like, use a different no number, a lower number.
I was like, what where you getting your numbers? You know?
And so I didn't like that. It was totally untethered
from reality. I wasn't comfortable with that ever. And to frankly,
the sexual harassment stuff, which is gross, wasn't even half
of it. I mean, I just didn't. I didn't buy

(18:37):
into the mission statement anymore of kind of tricking the
viewers to just to keep them coming back from more
and keeping them outraged. I don't. I didn't think any
of that was helpful. And I would say history has
proven that I was right.

Speaker 1 (18:49):
Absolutely. That has to feel nice, well except that, I
mean it's a mess.

Speaker 2 (18:54):
Yeah, it's a mess, I mean, but for you individually,
I can't make that much joy in being vindicated because
it's well it's gone to hell. I mean that the
whole business model, as I said, has been so pernicious
on so many levels that the fact that I was

(19:15):
right doesn't feel that great, and which is why I try.
I'm so glad you're asking me about it, because I
do try to talk about it wherever I can, hoping
that it can permeate the different silos. But I don't
really know that I'm being that effective. It's just a
sole voice about this.

Speaker 1 (19:28):
Well, it's an awfully hard golias to go up against,
and you know what you're referencing. The sort of image
I get is it's like they created this immensely toxic
thing and the trains left the station. Like you can't
really close Pandora's box once you open it. And I

(19:50):
think we as a society will have a lot of
work to do to reprioritize truth and we kind of
have to build the plane while we're flying it, and
that's a bit scary. But I'm so grateful that you know,
you're talking about this every chance you get, because you're right.

(20:12):
You know, people need to know and they do need
to understand the difference and the legal loopholes that some
folks like Roger Ayls have used for so long to
try to trick people, to try to create this tribalism,
which you know, we've seen these really detrimental side effects of.

(20:34):
Was it? I understand, you know, I think anyway, I
understand the immense pressure you must have felt at times,
you know, when being told change the numbers. Don't talk
about the benefits of healthcare. I'm sure they hated, you know,
the simple data point that it actually costs us so
much more money in the US to just not ensure everyone,

(20:56):
but it would to have universal health care. I'm sure
that wasn't a popular.

Speaker 2 (21:00):
I supposed to stifle that? Was it?

Speaker 1 (21:05):
How though? As because these are grand ideas, and these
are big truths and they affect the nation, but you're
still just a singular human. How did you navigate your
personal experience of being in that rock and a hard
place where you were told not to tell the truth

(21:27):
on air, or or you were asked to say things
that went against you know, what you know to be
true and what you believe in. Was it? Was it
just so immensely conflicting?

Speaker 2 (21:38):
Yeah, it was. It was really hard. The way I
did it was I would just try to be armed
with facts every time before I went on the air.
So I did a four hour weekend show, and I
just really mean, and it started at six am, So
I mean, from three am to six am, I would
just be with my producer trying to research the hell
out of every one of the topics that we would
be covering, or any of you that i'd be doing,

(22:01):
just so that I could you know, I knew that
we didn't have yet, I knew we had guests that
often fudged the facts. So I would try to be
armed to be able to say, actually, what the Bureau
of Labor Statistics says is this, you know? And I
would try to do that the best I could. But
I also felt badly for my producers because they knew

(22:22):
the same marching orders. And there are a ton of
I really liked the people at Fox. There are a
ton of good people at Fox. There are a ton
of people who are just trying to get a paycheck
and feed their families and pay their mortgage, and they
like they're willing to go along with the party line
because they have bigger fish to fry and they're at
lives and so I knew that they were having to

(22:42):
take the heat. You know, Roger ails would call into
the control room and say like, tell her to stop
saying that, or tell her to say this, and then
they would frantically get in my ear and tell me
to say something. I'm like, show me the facts and
I'm happy to say it. Bring me the facts and
I'll say it, and they would be like, Roger's gonna
call again. There was so much everybody was you know,
Roger ruled with an iron fist, and there's a lot

(23:06):
of fear with that kind of leadership. It's not collaborative.
So it was a challenge. It was definitely a challenge,
and I didn't always I don't want to pretend that
I always did it right. I didn't. There were definitely
times that I too echoed the talking points when I
didn't have all the facts buttoned up, or I just
wanted it to be easier and not have to be
called onto the carpet by Roger. So it's a challenge.

(23:29):
I mean, basically, it's what happens when you have, you know,
somebody with kind of tyrannical thinking and all the soldiers
fall online. I mean, it's funny how quickly you can
be co opted by that power structure.

Speaker 1 (23:43):
Well, and we've just seen it historically over and over
and over again. So I think it is why it's
so important for us to talk about ways that we
figure out how to tell the truth. Has it been
an immense relief once I guess the culture Chok were
off move over to CNN? Is it a completely different ship?

(24:03):
I mean, I know that even last year there was
some controversy about how it was supposedly moving more right
because of you know, whomever bought it. I feel like
I can't keep track of what corporations are you know,
overtaking what conglomerates anymore. But you're there, so can you
tell us what it's like?

Speaker 2 (24:21):
Yeah? I mean basically, the wonderful thing about STANN is
that it's always fact based, so it doesn't matter which
boss comes in or comes out. I mean, obviously we
all have our favorites, and we all have the people
that we work well with, but the mission statement has
never changed. So you still follow the rules of journalism,
you still have your facts all shown up, you still

(24:43):
are fact checking. We have on staff fact checkers, we
have standards and practices and actual office that make sure
we're following the rules of journalism, which Box doesn't have,
and so all of that that was still in play
regardless of what whatever flucks you know, we're going through,
And so that is comforting, I mean, just to be

(25:05):
able to get back to the rules and never to
have any boss. I've now had three different bosses at CNN.
Ever have any boss call me and say like, no,
I want you to say it this way.

Speaker 1 (25:17):
Wow, that is lovely to hear as a watcher of
the news. We'll be back in just a minute after
a few words from our favorite sponsors. What pressure do
you feel or is it just sort of something you
don't even notice anymore being the person who sits like

(25:42):
this across from us and delivers the news into our
homes every day. Does it uptick during an election year
or is that when everybody puts their heads down and
really cancels out the noise. I wonder what it's like
on the inside.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
I think it's starting in about I got to see
it in twenty fourteen, and in fifteen when Donald Trump
started running, I really realized, like, oh good, my skills
of having to research every morning and make sure that
I'm totally spot on and have all the facts buttoned

(26:19):
up are really going to come in handy here, because
you know, he would say so many contradictory things, and
so I already had the skill set to know if
I was interviewing him or one of his surrogates or
whoever was running. I mean, you know, I did the
same practice whether it was Hillary Clinton, whether it was
Ben Carson that I was interviewing, you know, And so

(26:39):
I felt very equipped by then to interview them. And
I certainly felt during COVID, I really felt my purpose.
You know, I felt the purpose every morning of us
as journalists being the first voice you hear, and I
knew that everybody was waking up and going, okay, how
many people have died, how many people are hospitalized? Hospitals

(27:03):
run out of beds, How close are we to a vaccine?
Is the FGG I get a fast track it? Like,
I knew that everybody was counting on us for real
important information every day. So even when I was tired,
I just felt For the past many years, ten nine years,
I have felt the you know, there were times in

(27:24):
my career where we would do some happy talk and
some you know, funny kickers and all this stuff and
I love that stuff, but the news has gotten really
serious in the past nine years, and I've definitely felt
kind of the responsibility that i have to the viewers.
So I wouldn't say it's pressure. I would say it's purpose.
And that has been a good feeling.

Speaker 1 (27:45):
That's so special. What what would you say, you know,
as the expert, what would you say to voters who
feel confused about what news outlets they can trust because
we have seen such a proliferic of misinformation. There are
you know, targeted disinformation campaigns that people are spending a

(28:07):
whole lot of money on to try to confuse folks.
And you know, it really seems like the untruth travel
around the Internet very quickly, and it's very hard to
clean them up. So, you know, somebody who really knows
the inside baseball here, what would you say to folks

(28:29):
who are feeling scared about where to turn for trusted information?

Speaker 2 (28:34):
Yeah, I don't blame them. It's really hard. It's a
delugege of information. It's too much information. It's like the
fire hose that people are drinking from every morning. And
don't blame them for not understanding which ones are legitimate,
which ones aren't. Legitimate I think is we're in a
really tough time right now. I mean, I try to

(28:56):
tell people you must go to a trusted news that
has a track record of winning journalism awards, of winning
Bulletzer Prize, of winning you know, the Edward R. Merrall Awards,
like they have a track record, and they you must
go to a place where if they get it wrong.
Because we're all human, so obviously we do get it
wrong sometimes. But one of the tenets of journalism is

(29:17):
you disclose it when you get it wrong, and you
apologize and you say responsibility. And Fox doesn't do that,
but the viewers don't know that because Fox doesn't report
that they had to pay the seven hundred and eighty
seven million two dominion, so your viewers don't know that.
So it's very, very hard to make inroads in those
silos because people don't understand that. And so I mean,

(29:41):
I in other words, it's not to me. It's not
about a political spectrum. You know, there are obviously more conservative,
excellent journalistic newspapers and places, and more progressive, but it's
just about which ones are fact based. But it's really

(30:01):
hard to feel I mean, we're living in a very
kind of surreal time, and it's dangerous and I don't
know how to get people to understand the difference in
some you know, craft pot website that they're looking at
versus real news right.

Speaker 1 (30:18):
Well, and this is such a layer on top of
the already very draining experience of working in the media.
You know, you talk about purpose and that sort of fulfillment,
which is so beautiful, and it's tough. You know, when
you have to be on the air at six am,
so you're up at three, it shifts your whole life.

(30:42):
You know, what you're available for, what things you get
to participate in with your family or friends. It really
does become the thing your world has to revolve around.
So how do you recharge? How do you set boundaries?
You know, for yourself? As Alison before, you have to
then go up and be the person we turned to

(31:05):
for coverage.

Speaker 2 (31:06):
When I was doing the morning show, which I did
for almost seven years at CNN, and I did it
for many many years before that at Fox, it was
really energetically hard for me. There are some people who
were mourning people. I'm not one of them.

Speaker 1 (31:20):
Oh me neither.

Speaker 2 (31:22):
It was really hard to be on my A game
and to have that much energy. So but I would
do it again because I do love my career and
I did feel the purpose of it. So when the
red light would go on at six in the morning,
I was present. I was there. We had lots of
I always looked for kind of the moment that broke

(31:43):
through the screen, you know, the moment of spontaneity, the
joke between my co anchor and me, the moment that
a guest said something that was so profound or that
was so news making or whatever. And there were each
show was riddled with those things. So I got a
lot of like sustenance, you know, from six am to
nine am, and then at nine oh one, I would

(32:05):
like stagger off the set and make it to my
office and fall like face first onto the sofa and
just sleep, like talk about the the underbelly, you know,
the the unglamorous side of what you were thinking about,
like movie making. If anybody came, I'm like sleeping, you know,
like on something with like full face of makeup, like

(32:28):
in my clothing, And that's how I would deal with it.
I would just try to get the two hours of
sleep that I hadn't gotten at night, and then I
would be able to go home and be with my family,
but I never felt fully present, like fully energetically present
with my family. And so after you know, almost seven years,

(32:49):
it's in and I had to I just physically wanted
to stop, and I wanted to move to a different
day part in the afternoon because it's just really hard
for me. And so I don't know how, like you know,
the Katie Kirks of the world did it for so long.
It was it was It was a total ass kicker.

Speaker 1 (33:10):
Yeah, what are some of your favorite memories when you
think back over the course of your career. What are
the things that jump to mind, you know, stories or
places you've traveled that still just make you feel excited.

Speaker 2 (33:23):
Well, I did love the chemistry with my co hosts.
In general, I've really liked my co hosts and in general,
they've really made me laugh and there have been special
spontaneous moments and that you know, forges a real bond.
So John Berman and I did the morning show together,
and we you know, we still He'll he'll text me
one word and we'll laugh as directly because I know

(33:45):
exactly what he's talking about. Or I'll text him some
memory and we you know, we laugh like that's it's
because you're together, you know, so early in the morning.
It's a pretty intimate bond that you have these guys.
So I always enjoyed that. And then one of the
things that I really liked is that I got to

(34:05):
meet some of my childhood idols. You know, I had
the privilege of being able to interview some of these
guys who were on my wall in posters, you know,
growing up. And like if I could have told ten
year old Allison that she would be interviewing kiss you
know who I had the poster of in my bedroom,

(34:28):
I would have been so excited. And I was so excited,
Like when any of those guys, any of the people
that I admired from Afar as a child, came in,
I was giddy, basically, like David Cassidy, who you're too
young to know, but he was in the Partridge family
and he was a heart throb and he I loved

(34:50):
him so much. I was like skipping around him when
he came in. And it had been a few decades
since David Cassidy like a fangirl, like super fanning, and
he was I believe scared at my.

Speaker 1 (35:04):
Yeah, it is always a little hard when you have
those moments and you're like, I'm supposed to be cool
because I'm also on TV, but I can't be. No, Hello,
and now for our sponsors. So I love hearing the
personal anecdotes. It's so fun. How did you or maybe

(35:29):
how do you think about the differences between Alice and
the journalist and Alice and the author because you talk
about you know, I've read so many articles and watched
some interviews with you talking about what it was like
to write this memoir and combat love is so beautiful,

(35:50):
and you know you're not covering someone's story. This is
your story and it's so vulnerable and it's it's so important.
But how did you reconcile opening up like this? Do
you feel like your training as a journalist made you
ready for more of being exposed and sharing or is

(36:16):
it totally terrifying and exciting and you're learning as you go.

Speaker 2 (36:21):
Well, thank you for saying all that. I really appreciate
that it was at first terrifying. At first, the concept
of it was terrifying, So I knew I wanted to
write it because I felt that I had to write
it for my own closure, and I have a lot
of different pieces rattling around in my head from my
childhood and my teenage years that felt unfinished, and so

(36:43):
I knew that I wanted to write it and put
it in a timeline and have it chronologically make sense
to me and understand my own personal arc. But that's
a very different exercise than publishing it. So I write
it and I did that, and I at first was like,
you know, really scared that to publish it, because I thought,
who wants to see the diary pages of their anchor?

(37:09):
Like anchors in particular, I think are sort of neutered,
no it all. And so I thought, like, it's gross
if you peel back the curtain too far on your
news anchor, because as we all learned with Matt Lauer,
we don't want to know any sordid details of their

(37:31):
life and if they're imperfect, because the present can look
so seamless and as I said, polish. So I was
thinking that it wouldn't be a good idea, and then
I wrote it, and I just wrote, and I liked
that exercise of writing it, and it was helpful to me.
And as I said, with some news stories, some particularly intense,

(37:55):
painful news stories. I was asking people to be so
vulnerable with me, you know, and Vis Floyd was like
so just incredibly profoundly vulnerable and raw, and like I'm
asking out of people and I'm still keeping my mask
on and my trustee neutral stance. Yeah. I just at

(38:17):
some point thought, I think maybe the viewers can handle it.
I think maybe they will be able to handle that
their you know, polished anchor has a lot of blemishes
and a lot of a messy a messy pass that
has included some pain, and maybe it will even be
helpful in these divided times. Maybe they'll that'll be a

(38:40):
bridge somehow. And so I just I don't know. I
came to just trust the process more and think that
people would like it. And I'm really relieved at how
well it's been received, because it turns out that it
is a universal story, you know, to a survival story.
I mean, everybody has some survival story. They look different,

(39:02):
but everybody has one, and it turns out that it's universal,
and that's been very comforting to me.

Speaker 1 (39:08):
Yeah, I think that's a really beautiful way to put it,
a survival story because, as you mentioned earlier, particularly when
you become a public figure, nobody knows what it took
you to get there, and you know, learning that you
left home at sixteen, you'd have this really complicated relationship,

(39:28):
you know, with your mother, and that in many ways,
writing this book required you to to really sit down
and communicate about your family history. What was that like?
Because it sounds incredible and totally wild, what was what
was it like for you to go, Okay, mom, we

(39:51):
got to sit down and talk about this stuff.

Speaker 2 (39:54):
It was hard, I mean it was hard. She was resistant.
My mother was born in nineteen forty. She's literally part
of something called the Silent Generation. So I'm Gen X,
she's the silent generation, and so now you know, we've
the pendulumt has song so far to you know, millennials
and gen Z that are quite open and confessional and everything.

(40:15):
But it's been a long time coming, you know, to
get there. The continuum was the other end for her.
So she really didn't want she was she was happy to,
not happy to. She was willing to talk to me
about it, but she certainly didn't want a lot of
it made public, and so it took us years to
try to get comfortable with that and to reconcile it.

(40:38):
But what my book also includes as a lot of
family secrets. You know, both my parents had family secrets
that they kept quiet about and so that it turns out,
did not help in parenting me. And it turns out
that you think you're keeping a secret, and you might

(40:58):
think that you've stuffed it down and it's all within you,
but it ends up having this, you know, these repercussions
on your children, whether you stated or not, something unconscious
happens generationally.

Speaker 1 (41:14):
Yeah, And they.

Speaker 2 (41:15):
Passed along these kind of confusing puzzle pieces to me
where there were pieces missing and I sensed as a
child something isn't quite right around here, but I don't
know what it is. There are puzzle pieces missing, and
I really didn't. I mean I didn't find out about

(41:37):
them until I was an adult, you know, until later
in life. And it would have been really helpful to
communicate actually about some of these things instead of having
family secrets.

Speaker 1 (41:48):
Yeah. So how do you learn to do that in
real time while you're writing a book. Did you have
like a great therapist. Did you have an editor who
was helping who helped you knew this?

Speaker 2 (42:00):
Well, I've had a therapist. I mean, I have relied
on therapy, not all the time throughout my life, but
definitely at different hard times. And so I know enough
about therapy to know that it's helpful. And so when
I was going to be talking to my mom about this,
I said, I'm going to find a therapist for us

(42:22):
to talk this therapy.

Speaker 1 (42:23):
That's great, because I.

Speaker 2 (42:24):
Knew that there would be it would be better to
have a neutral third voice, you know, because mothers and
daughters have you know, can have fraught relationships regardless of
how close they are. My mother and I are close,
but I knew that that would help, and that did
really help. But I also just think that, you know,
I didn't write it until I had enough distance and
enough maturity and had my own kids and my teenagers,

(42:47):
and that helped too. You know, I couldn't obviously have
written this book at twenty and I didn't know these
twenty But in going back and excavating my life and
finding out about the secrets that my mother held and
my father held, it's actually given me, you know, tons
of closure. I mean, finding missing puzzle pieces is very healing.

(43:07):
And what I've been saying on book tour when I
go around to people is like, if there's a way
that you can find closure. I don't think you have
to write a memoir, but if you can find closure
with people, do it, because unfinished business will not at you.
You know, whether it's your parents, whether it's a sibling,
whether it's a past love, whether it's a friendship.

Speaker 1 (43:26):
You know.

Speaker 2 (43:27):
I'm just a big believer in tying up loose ends.
I think that that is a much more emotionally and
mentally healthier space.

Speaker 1 (43:37):
Yeah. Yeah, it's really really good advice. And I imagine
these are things you learned in real time while writing
this was Was it a cathartic experience?

Speaker 2 (43:51):
Yeah, very It was very cathartic. It was very cathartic
to go back and put everything into some order for
me rather just floating around my head. And it was
cathartic to understand. Now as an adult woman, I have
a different perspective on my mother's choices. So my mother
moved me from you know what I considered the epicenter

(44:12):
of my universe Shrewsbury, New Jersey, to Bellingham, Washington, three
thousand miles away, where I knew no one and basically
on a whim. And I was very devastated and resentful
and you know now talking about it. So she was
forty one, she was looking for a new life. I

(44:33):
was fifteen, not looking for a new life at all,
very much to put down roots in my hometown. And so,
you know, I lived that with her, so I knew
the story basically, but going back as an adult woman
and talking to her about it, about the despair that
she was feeling and how trapped she was feeling, you know,
obviously it gave me a whole new perspective and that

(44:55):
has really help and her hearing you know why it
was so devastating to me, all of that has really
helped our relationship. And I'm very glad. I mean you've
probably heard me say this because I've said it a
lot on the book too, But my mother's one, you know,
request was can't you wait te Lo, I'm dead? That's
what she kept saying. Well, I was writing it, can't
you wage long dead? And I'm so glad I did

(45:16):
not wait till she was dead, because she ended up
being really helpful in putting the pieces together.

Speaker 1 (45:22):
That's so cool. You talk a lot in the book
about the power of music in your life, and you know,
you just were mentioning being the ten year old with
the kiss poster on your wall. How how did music
influence you as you were writing this. Were there certain

(45:42):
artists you listened to or were you going back and
like listening to every artist from the time period of
the stories you were working on? What was that part
of the journey.

Speaker 2 (45:52):
Music is so transportative to me that I had to
be very careful with what I listened to while I
was writing it, because it's so evocative that if I
put on a song from a different era, like if
I played something from the nineties while I was writing
about nineteen eighty one, it wouldn't help. And if I
played something from the summer in New Jersey of nineteen

(46:16):
eighty two, but I was writing about the winter of Bellingham,
it would like, you know, scramble my central nervous system.
And so I and furthermore, I didn't want to dilute.
You know, sometimes if you hear a song over and
over and over again, the evocativeness gets a little diluted.
And so with Shrapnel. So Shrapnel is the band that

(46:39):
I fell in love when I was thirteen. They were
a local punk rock band. There were just the coolest
guys in the world. And it's very hard to hear
a Shrapnel song because they you know, we didn't have
the internet then and they don't on Spotify, and it's
very hard to hear it. But I found on Facebook
some cassette tapes from live shows of theirs, and I

(47:00):
kept it. I knew it would be Panderdora's box if
I played it, so I kept it in my cabinet
for four or five years until I was ready to
write about it, because I knew that it would be
like an instant time machine for me. And it's so funny.
The book is called Combat Love. That was Shrapnel's first single,

(47:21):
and when I hear it, I just I just heard it.
They played it last night at a book event and
I I mean, I hear it once, you know, every
ten years, and I just heard it. And this is
how they started the book event. I was at like
a book talk and I was like, excuse me, I
need to compose myself again like they played it. I couldn't.

(47:42):
Like I became like undone, you know, hearing the song again.
So I had to be very careful with music because
it's a real like pure signal for me, and I
didn't want to screw around with it. While I was writing,
I could only listen to specific things.

Speaker 1 (47:58):
Oh my goodness, does music serve as that sort of
transportational device for you when you're reporting as well?

Speaker 2 (48:10):
I mean yes, Like when I was doing the morning
show at CNN. Every morning I would come out and
the guys the crew would be playing a song that
they either knew really bummed me out because we had
a joke. They love Rush, and I no girl likes rush.
Rush is like it's like what a dog whistle is

(48:31):
to a dog. Like you can't play girls don't understand rush.
It doesn't it's our ears aren't made for it. So
they would play that because they knew that it like
got my goat and they thought it was hilarious. So
they would either play that or they would play one
of my old like Kiss. Sometimes, you know, one of
the camera guys would play Kiss for me, or he'd
play the Scorpions because he knew that that was one

(48:52):
of the songs from Bellingham that I listened to, And
so I would have to say to them, like, guys,
I have to focus, yeah, making time travel right now,
Like I can't be in high school mindset to like
turn it off for a second, and so that was
yes for sure, Like I yeah, I'm I'm susceptible to music,
very susceptible.

Speaker 1 (49:13):
That's so cool. Well, you know you're traveling obviously and
talking about the book. How are the book events going?
Are you enjoying it so much?

Speaker 2 (49:22):
So much there, It's just it's really fun to be
able to go out in the world and to talk
about this. And what's really funny is that you know
some publishers who who didn't want the book, you know
who read the book. They liked my writing, they liked me,
but they weren't willing to take a risk on the
book because they said, we don't think. We don't believe

(49:43):
that like your news fans, your viewers will follow you
for like a punk rock teenage story. We don't see
the connection and what has And I believe them. I thought, Okay,
I understand, it's off brand. I get it. This is
not the typical journalism story. And then what's happened is
that I in traveling around the country. I was just

(50:03):
in California for a couple of days, in San Francisco
and in Los Angeles with women primarily my age. What
they could they are they connect with it because it's
not really about a punk rock band. It's about a
coming of age story and when you are going to
decide that you're going to go your own way, regardless

(50:26):
of what your parents had set up for you, and
how you're going to survive by going your own way.
And like I said, you know, it's a story of
obstacles and survival. And I've just realized everybody has that,
So everybody is taking some piece of the book and
being able to relate to it. So I'm very heartened that,

(50:46):
you know, it ends up being a universal story.

Speaker 1 (50:49):
Yeah. I often think about how it's the specific that
is universal. It's the way we see ourselves and things,
not because the details match, but because the feelings line up.

Speaker 2 (51:00):
Yeah. I mean I didn't really understand that until now.
You know. Like, for instance, I recently read Janet McCurdy's
you know, best selling So Good, and I didn't have
I never had an eating disorder. I don't relate to that.
Do I relate to her wanting to always please her
mother and perform for her mother, and her mother being

(51:22):
this larger than life magnetic character. Yes, I do. So
the book spoke to me, you know, yeah, so I
now I get that the specifics are just the authenticity
of the book, but there are larger themes that we
all relate to.

Speaker 1 (51:36):
Yeah, that's so special. So when you sit from this point,
you know, it's such a big thing to put a
book out in the world, and you look at the
year ahead and it's it's a big moment for you personally,
and we are in an election year. There's just there's
an awful lot going on for us, you know, from
the micro to the macro. What feels like your work

(51:58):
in progress for.

Speaker 2 (52:01):
Well, that's really interesting. I think that what happens when
you put out a book, you never know where it's
going to go. You never know. A book takes on
its own trajectory and its own life, and books open
doors that you couldn't have imagined. There are calling card
in some way to just get you into you know,
like being able to talk to you like, that's wonderful.

(52:23):
That's a calling card that I wouldn't have known a
month ago, and that's wonderful and so delightful. And so
the work in progress for me is like I don't
feel I've ridden that out, you know, like I'm still
on the cusp of this wave of seeing where it leads,
and I'm really enjoying that process. And in terms of

(52:44):
the news, you know, I've lived this movie before of
this election, and I don't want to repeat the lessons
that we learned the last time. I mean, I feel
like this calls for a new way of thinking, a
new way of framing. I haven't fastened upon that yet,
but I just know that we've learned a lot, so

(53:04):
I don't want to have to. I don't want to
repeat old mistakes or old patterns with how I report
the news. I want to really talk about the stakes,
you know, I want to talk about I think that
sometimes in an election year, we get focused on the
horse race, we get focused on the excitement of it.
But this time around, I really want us to mostly
talk about the stakes. And so that's what I'm trying

(53:27):
to focus on.

Speaker 1 (53:28):
That's really great. That feels like a good place for
us all to meet, I hope, so I mean too,
Thank you so much us And this has just been
so cool.

Speaker 2 (53:40):
Thank you, Sophia, It's so great to talk to you.
Thanks for understanding the book and reading the book and
just you know, being so relatable. I really appreciate that.

Speaker 1 (53:49):
I appreciate you. It's beautiful. Thank you for sharing it
with us.
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