Jake Tapper is not an easy man to label. like so many of his colleagues at CNN, he does not wear his politics prominently on his sleeve. Though he has worked for Democrats in the past, and for liberal organizations, he was one of very few members of the mainstream media who maintained a somewhat adversarial relationship with the Obama administration. David Axelrod, a former Obama administration and campaign official, remarked on Tapper’s journalistic tenacity when Tapper joined him on his CNN podcast. Of course, compared to the kid gloves with which the Obama administration was treated by the media, any question tougher than, “what enchants you most about this job?” (A real thing that happened) might be viewed as the pinnacle of journalistic integrity. However, Tapper has made his reputation as one of exceedingly few newsmen who can be trusted to tell the truth regardless of the party in power. He joins Bret Baier as one of the last honest men in news.
Tapper grew up in a Jewish family in Philadelphia. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth University with a B.A. in History. Following his graduation from Dartmouth, he briefly attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He began working in politics as the campaign press secretary and later the congressional press secretary for a powerful Philadelphia Democrat. He has also worked for a prominent PR firm and what is now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. As such, his path to media has been long and winding. He began his full-time journalism career in 1998 at the Washington City Paper, where he wrote a now-famous piece about going on a date with Monica Lewinsky, in which he denounced Washington’s love of scandal at the expense of a sweet girl like Lewinsky. The piece lent some insight into Tapper as a man; honest (some might say brutally so), straightforward, kind-hearted and passionate for the truth. He has since said that he regrets calling her “chubby” in the piece, showing a bit more how he has matured and grown into his role as America’s real alternative to otherwise fake news.
As a conservative, I have always been met with audible groans when I mention my respect for Tapper. The tribalism that we so virulently denounce in the left can affect us in equal measure. Our immediate distrust and dislike for anyone and anything on CNN is, quite simply, no more than partisan trash. Rather than taking individuals and stories on a case by case basis, we too often dismiss an unflattering bit of news or a journalist who is reporting facts that contradict a particular narrative simply because they appear on a network which we (rightfully) distrust as a whole. Distrust is one thing; dismissal is quite another. Conservatives are right to treat CNN and other partisan media outlets with extreme skepticism, but to deny that there are good journalists and even the occasional good story that come from an otherwise detestable source seems imprudent.
No, I have not always agreed with him, and find his looks into the camera while condemning the President a bit melodramatic. But as a man with a full body of work, Tapper remains a fantastic example of what the news should be, and how those who provide the news should behave. Yes, he skewered Stephen Miller, but he also skewered Sheriff Scott Israel for crediting his own “amazing leadership” following the shooting in Parkland, FL. Tapper is a respectable and honorable man, who encompasses many of the best traits of newsmen. Conservatives should be open to, occasionally, giving credit where it is due and recognizing him as one of the prudent leaders of an otherwise dishonorable industry.
Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce for their help in writing, researching, and editing this piece. Nick is my law firm manager and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama. Daniel is my chief consultant and a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University. Both plan to attend law school in 2019.
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