There isn’t a lot that CNN is doing right these days, so it’s good to see they can make a smart move when the chips are down. It’s not like Jake Tapper wasn’t the blindingly obvious choice to helm State of the Union from the day Candy Crowley left. But this is Jeff Zucker we’re talking about, and TCG had visions of Don Lemon, or maybe the comedy team of Cooper and Griffin, being given the prestigious Sunday slot.
This is an important move because of how Candy Crowley poisoned the CNN well for Republicans. When she inserted herself into that Obama/Romney debate with a false talking point that threw a lifeline to POTUS, it may have been a pivotal moment in the campaign. From that moment her position at CNN damaged the network’s cred among the GOP crowd, none of whom wanted to see even the possibility of Candy jumping in again to save the Democratic nominee. Republicans would hardly agree to a post-primary Presidential debate on CNN unless she was gone and someone lacking leftist baggage took her place. The choice of Jake Tapper, respected by politicos on both sides of the aisle, means when election season shifts into high gear, CNN will be back in the game.
Already media savants are speculating about how Jake Tapper can make State of the Union the “dominant” Sunday show. The Cable Game isn’t convinced, especially if Zucker is hovering over his shoulder and calling the shots (a la Reliable Sources). But given a free hand Jake Tapper could make State of the Union a thoughtful and fair Sunday show, and it wouldn’t hurt to have one more of those.