Alisyn Camerota, Formerly of Fox News, Has a Story to Tell


The executives in the book tell anchors to lay off presidential candidates, a message that Ms. Camerota said she received in real life from management because Roger Ailes, the late Fox News titan, did not want on-air talk about the accusations of sexual harassment against the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain during the 2012 campaign.

As the plot unfolds, copious airtime is devoted to a television star turned politician named Victor Fluke (hmm!) whose immunity to shame generates big ratings. Amanda, who struggles to balance ethics and ratings, is told by a producer that Walter Cronkite would never get hired today because “he’d be bad for the demo.”

“There were just some bizarre things that were happening,” Ms. Camerota said, explaining why she started taking notes on her experiences and wondered if it could make for a book. “It was easier to assign whatever ethical challenge I was facing to a fictional character and let her figure it out.”

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Elizabeth Ailes, Roger Ailes, Ms. Camerota and Geraldo Rivera in 2015 at a 40th birthday party for Erica Rivera.

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Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Ms. Camerota, 51, is the rare Fox News anchor whose career has thrived after leaving the network: She is now co-host of CNN’s “New Day,” alongside Chris Cuomo, where she has scored viral hits by pressing supporters of President Trump about his false claims.

Since leaving Fox News, Ms. Camerota has also gone public about the darker side of life at the network. In April, she said on-air that she was sexually and emotionally harassed by Mr. Ailes, who was forced to step down as the network’s chairman and chief executive after a sexual harassment scandal last summer.

In her account, Ms. Camerota said that when she approached Mr. Ailes about her career, seeking more opportunities at the network, he told her: “Well, I would have to work with you — I would have to work with you really closely — and it may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here. And it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I am saying?”

After rejecting him, Ms. Camerota said that Mr. Ailes questioned her on-air demeanor, saying, “You could be a real role model and a real star if only you could sound conservative.” (Mr. Ailes, who died in May, denied Ms. Camerota’s allegations in a statement by his lawyer Susan Estrich.)

“I think that on every level, silence generally isn’t the right way to go,” Ms. Camerota said in an interview last week from her home in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and three children. “I’m happy that I was able to break the cone.”

Harassment is not an issue in “Amanda Wakes Up,” although there are on-set romances and rumors of the on-air talent sleeping with “the third floor,” the nickname for FAIR News’s executive suites. In real life, Fox News employees use the term “the second floor” the same way.

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“It was easier to assign whatever ethical challenge I was facing to a fictional character and let her figure it out,” Ms. Camerota said of her novel.

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Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Ms. Camerota grew up in Shrewsbury, N.J., where, at 15, she decided to become a television reporter after watching Phil Donahue. She later won a scholarship to study broadcasting at American University. “Amanda Wakes Up” is her first novel. She said she wanted the book to encompass the good and bad of her years in the business.

“There are moments in there from my time at ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ ABC, NBC,” she said, ticking off the local network affiliates and shows where she toiled before national cable came calling.

The novel takes pains to pierce the bubble of liberals who dismiss Fox News and condescend to its viewers.

“I resented being put in a partisan box,” Ms. Camerota said. “‘Oh, you work at Fox News, so you’re obviously an archconservative.’ No, I’m a journalist, and I’m trying to cover the news.”

The book’s protagonist finds herself in an affair with her co-anchor, Rob Lahr, a tall, handsome frat-boy type with a hint of Ron Burgundy. It’s the kind of detail that may set off a guessing game in the incestuous TV world, but Ms. Camerota is not naming names.

“Just to remind everybody, I was single in this business for 10 years,” she said.

The bombastic candidate Victor Fluke, who favors FAIR News over other networks, dominates the book’s plotline. Ms. Camerota said she set out to capture numerous politicians with big egos, not just the one named Trump.

“Victor Fluke is an amalgam of all sorts of candidates that I’ve met,” she said. “These guys are one way on TV and one way off TV. They have a different set of personalities when they’re not on camera.”

The book evokes the intensity of television news: long hours, pressure for scoops and ratings, the coarse humor that goes along with covering massacres and tragedies. Amanda is besieged by cruel and threatening tweets from viewers, something Ms. Camerota knows well. She deleted her Twitter account this month, saying she was tired of the abuse.

“Roger liked competition, so he would pit us against each other to see who got the best ratings,” she said of the hosts at Fox News. “It bred more tension than I’ve felt anywhere else.”

Ms. Camerota recalled a moment at Fox News when a hairdresser frantically ran onto the set because management had objected to the part in her hair; a whirl of combs, brushes and curling irons descended.

“Some of that I thought, perhaps, was overkill,” she said.

And the leg bronzer? Ms. Camerota laughed.

“That was something that was only true at Fox,” she said. “I have never had anyone at CNN or NBC or ABC ever say that I should have bronzer on my legs.” (A Fox News spokeswoman said that anchors were not told to wear leg bronzer.)

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Christine Romans, a co-anchor of “Early Start” on CNN, Ms. Camerota, and Dave Briggs, also of “Early Start,” at Ms. Camerota’s book party.

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Donald Bowers/CNN

Despite her defection to CNN, Ms. Camerota still has fans at her old network. At a recent book party at Atlantic Grill near Lincoln Center, the Fox News anchors Shepard Smith and Brian Kilmeade were among the guests.

“Thank you everybody for coming to this Fox News party,” said Jeffrey A. Zucker, the president of CNN. Ms. Camerota, in a fire-engine-red Carmen Marc Valvo dress, laughed and covered her face.

“People on television, as people in this room know, are a strange breed,” Mr. Zucker continued, surveying a crowd that was filled, “This Is Your Life”-style, with Ms. Camerota’s producers and co-hosts from more than 25 years. “But there’s nobody more normal and more real than this one.”

It was Ms. Camerota’s turn to speak. “Jeff Zucker needs a book that satirizes cable news like a hole in the head right now,” she said, as the room cracked up. Turning to the Fox News contingent, she said, “I’m so grateful that you guys are still my friends.”

Mr. Zucker piped up. “They haven’t read the book yet,” he said.

Mr. Smith said after he greeted Ms. Camerota with a hug: “I’ve known her since before we were at Fox together. Once we’re off camera and no one’s paying attention, we all love each other.”

A few days later, Ms. Camerota said she felt touched that the Fox crowd had shown up.

“It was brave of them to come,” she said. “Journalism can feel under siege right now, and we do remind each other that we are all in this together.”

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