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MSNBC anchor Katy Tur opens about "difficult childhood" in her memoir "Rough Draft"

Katy Tur has been around the news business since she was a child —  first as the daughter of a famous news reporting couple and now as an anchor on MSNBC. But the mother of two and wife of CBS News' Tony Dokoupil says she didn't always want to follow her parents' footsteps and had doubts about her own career during the pandemic.

"I was thinking that maybe this wasn't what I was supposed to do. Maybe it's only what I ended up doing because it's what my parents did and what felt familiar," she said in an interview Monday on "CBS Mornings."

It was during that time that she wrote her new memoir, "Rough Draft." In the book, Tur writes about her unique childhood growing up with news reporter parents, her struggles with motherhood and her career. She also describes violence and abuse she says were triggered by her father's temper.

While Tur was rethinking her life during the worst days of COVID, her mom sent her a hard drive with archival footage of the family, including videos of her parents working together from aboard a helicopter, which they did for many years. 

Her mom, Marika Gerrard, was a camerawoman and her dad, then known as Bob Tur, was the pilot. The two-person news team shot many historic events, such as the O.J. Simpson car chase and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

"My dad was always scooping the competition," Katy Tur said. "And he would dangle it in front of the competition and say, 'You're not gonna get this shot, I am.'"

Going through the footage helped Katy Tur revisit her "difficult childhood" and confront "a lot of the stuff" she had been running from for some 15 or 16 years, she said. Among those painful memories was remembering that her dad didn't just fight with cops and competitors — the family was also a target, she said.

"So the fighting with the cops and the fighting with officials I always kind of looked up to. I thought, 'Well, this is how you act as a journalist. You push back. You push, push, push,'" she said. "The fighting with my mom I didn't like. But it felt like, 'This is just what marriage is.' It felt normal."

The alleged fighting came out in "fists and thrown batteries or thrown keys or holes in the wall," Katy Tur said. "It was ugly."

Her dad has since undergone gender affirmation surgery and changed her name to Zoey Tur. The two are not speaking to each other.

In a statement to CBS News, Zoey Tur said that she was under "extraordinary pressure" when working in the news business and "could be very intimidating for sure." She added that, "if the kids felt I was intimidating, I apologize. I did the best I could."

Katy Tur said her parents' hectic work schedule was one of the reasons she tried to stay away from journalism.

"What they did was so all-consuming, they were never home. They were always on the run," she said. "We would go to restaurants and we'd eat in 20 minutes or 10 minutes or five minutes because if the scanner would light up, then we would be on to another story."

She said the fast-paced career also "destroyed" her parents' marriage.

"The business tore them apart. The relationship was a mess," she said. "My dad clearly took on all of that stress and didn't deal with it well. And I just thought I should do something stable."

Katy Tur said she wishes she had a better relationship with her father.

Katy Tur reveals husband Tony Dokoupil's home anchoring secret during pandemic 02:25

"I don't want to condemn my dad and say that my dad was nothing but bad because that's not true. I love my father. I love my father. That's what makes it harder," she said. 

Dokoupil said many of the revelations in his wife's memoir were news to him.

"I didn't really know how to broach it with you," Tur told him. "Who wants to talk about all that ugliness? ... I don't love crying. And it's the sort of thing that makes me cry."

"Rough Draft" comes out Tuesday, June 14. It is published by Simon and Schuster, which is part of CBS News' parent company Paramount Global.

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