As all of you who read this blog know I’ve always liked Jake Tapper, both personally and professionally. In our encounters both online and in person he never treated me with any less respect because I was a blogger and was kind enough to come on my show when invited.
Furthermore during the Obama years he was practically alone in questioning the administration and democrat leaders when the rest of the press gave them a pass. I’ll never forget watching during the election season when the story of Hillary having to be helped into the van broke. When “reliable sources” was one the whole story was treated as if it was a plot from Fox meaning that his was something completely to be ignored, at Noontime Jake came on live and suddenly it was treated as the serious news story that it was, right up until the moment that he went off the air and CNN went back to Clinton defense mode.
Many times I’ve said that Tapper’s conservative fans had better get ready because once the GOP was back in the White House they would find themselves unable to tell the difference between him and the rest of the MSM because he would be just as tough on our side as he was on their.
All that being said Tapper’s statement “…I did fact checks about Barack Obama, too, not at the same rate, nor was there a need for them at the same rate,” was a self-inflicted wound. It suggests that he is deliberately being harder on Trump than the very dishonest and dishonorable Obama administration.
There are two reasons why I suspect this is the case:
1. Literally but not seriously vs Seriously but not Literally
One of the things you will note about American Pols, particularly our Democrat friends is how carefully they parse their words, Bill Clinton’s “It depends on what the meaning of the world ‘is’ is“, Al Gore’s “No Controlling legal authority” or any of the carefully worded denials of wiretapping by Obama era officials concerning the Trump campaign immediately come to mind.
Donald Trump is the completely opposite of this. He tends to talk like a normal person because his background is not political. Because he is less exact about what he says the political press has a field day fact checking words while missing the valid points he is constantly making. As Salena Zito put it
“The press takes Trump literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
If you spend your career looking for falsehoods in carefully parsed words a guy like President Trump is going to completely overturn the standards by which you judge what a pol says.
That’s just life as it is.
2. The fat pitch that was missed.
The second reason has to do with the infamous interview with candidate Trump before Super Tuesday when Jake gave him the “Denounce David Duke” question.
This frankly was pretty much a pro-forma question, a slow pitch over the plate that Candidate Trump should have hit out of the park with no problem. As I said at the time:
Forgetting all the circus that has come since, the bottom line is you don’t get a much fatter pitch in the game of politics than: “Do you denounce the KKK and David Duke?”
It was also a very odd error as I said at the time:
It’s doubly confusing given that in the past he had no problem disavowing Duke in his reform party days and even did so on Friday when Chris Christie endorsed him.
Frankly given that past and the fact that Trump isn’t stupid, I presume his performance with Jake Tapper was the ultimate brain fart
However double standards (Where was the Obama denunciation of terrorist Bill Ayers in whose house he started his campaign) bad mics brain farts or whatever it was an unenforced error that not only is still being used to portray Trump as something he’s not made, in my opinion a huge impression on Jake. Look at his face during that exchange and it speaks volumes.
Now you might say that’s unfair, you might say (as I do) that the racism and antisemitism charges against Trump are ridiculous on their face but I’ll not deny Jake the right to make a judgement based on what he himself heard (I don’t know if they actually see each other during such exchanges) at the time during his own interview.
All that being said I think it would be a good idea for Jake to clarify and modify his remarks because what he said doesn’t reflect well on him (I’d say it doesn’t reflect well on mainstream journalism, but mainstream journalism doesn’t reflect well on mainstream journalism so this remark won’t make it any worse). He’s a good guy and a fine journalist and should no more be defined by this mistake that Donald Trump should by is gaffe of last February.
Now there may be some readers here who object to this, but as I said, I like Jake Tapper, both personally and professionally and I would no more throw him under the bus over a single gaffe than I was willing to throw Donald Trump under the bus when the Bush tape came out when everybody and I mean EVERYBODY wanted Donald Trump with a rope around his neck.
That’s not how I work.
Closing thought. Be aware that if Mr. Tapper is still in the field of journalism the next time a Democrat is either in the White House or Senate Majority Leader or Speaker of the House, rest assured that my conservative friends who are now having a fit will suddenly find themselves warming up to him when he once again becomes the only member of the mainstream press who questions a word they say, unless by some miracle the rest of the media develops ethics by that time.
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