The Cable Gamer has been following the career of Jake Tapper with interest and admiration, and congratulated CNN when they picked him to anchor State of the Union. He’s still doing his afternoon hour (The Lead) and today was covering the horrors of the Charleston murders. But…well, let the Washington Post‘s resident Cable Gamer Erik Wemple take it from here. He quotes from a South Carolina politico J. Todd Rutherford who was Jake Tapper’s interview subject:
It’s a place that they can feel free to desecrate and leave blood everywhere, and that’s what this man did. And he did so on some ill-gotten belief, on some wrong belief that it’s okay to do that. He hears that, because he watches the news and he watches things like Fox News, where they talk about things that they call news, but they’re really not. They use that coded language, they use hate speech, they talk about the president as if he’s not the president. They talk about churchgoers as if they’re not really churchgoers. And that’s what this young man acted on. That’s why you can walk into a church and treat people like animals when they’re really human beings.
At this point, journalist Jake Tapper says there’s a lot to “unpack” in all that but proceeds to change the subject, and in short order the interview draws to a close.
Really, there are all sorts of questions that might occur to a reporter after being handed that spiel, like how did Fox News demean churchgoers? When did they ever say the President is not the President? But the most glaringly obvious journalistic response might have been to challenge what appears on its face to be an unsupported, fact-free, utterly invented claim:
Bingo. How do you know he watches Fox News? How do you know what he acted on? Bill O’Reilly asked Rutherford that question. A copy boy on a high school newspaper would know to ask such questions. Instead, Jake Tapper went wow, that’s a lot to unpack, so let’s talk about something else. As Bernard Goldberg put it: “He let it go. He didn’t challenge it.”
The Cable Gamer is not going to insult Mr. Tapper by suggesting these questions never occurred to him. So there has to be another explanation. What could it be?
- CNN boss Jeff Zucker says Roger Ailes’ Fox News is just a GOP house channel
- Jeff Zucker Ushers CNN Into New ‘Attitude’ Era
- Did CNN’s Jeff Zucker Cross A Line Hosting The Obamas For Dinner?
- CNN Boss Jeff Zucker Calls Out Fox News As a Front For the Republican Party
The Cable Gamer would like to think Jake Tapper’s journalistic instincts were better than to let a preposterous smear of Fox News air without challenge, but that’s just what he did. Was he taking his cue from the words of his boss? Perhaps he was reluctant to deviate from the company line. Or maybe he was told “Forget it, Jake…It’s Zuckertown.”
Update: Jake Tapper has responded to TCG on twitter: