CNN anchor Jake Tapper is under fire for his inconsistencies when it comes to booking guests on his programs and is being accused of throwing his staff “under the bus.”
The controversy began last month when he repeatedly suggested that he refuses to invite any GOP lawmaker who fed into what he and other liberals have dubbed the “Big Lie,” which is the narrative that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from former President Trump. His blacklist apparently included all three leaders of the House Republican caucus and anyone who challenged President Biden’s election victory.
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“Yeah, I mean this is something that I wrestle with every day… which is I have not booked, since the election, anyone who’s engaged in these lies. I just, I haven’t… If you’re willing to lie about that, what else are you willing to lie about? And why should my viewers listen to you?” Tapper told New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher on May 27. “Now if they came to me and said that they wanted to, I don’t think any of them, Scalise or McCarthy or Stefanik, have faced a tough interview at all about it. So I might be willing to interview one of them to talk about this, to talk about their election lies and what they’re doing. But I’m not asking for the interview and they’re not eager to do it, no.”
However, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., revealed on Friday that Tapper’s staff had invited her onto his CNN programs just weeks prior as she was ascending to House leadership amid the ousting of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., as the GOP Conference Chair, sharing screenshots of email exchanges her office had.
Tapper fired back at the congresswoman all while seeming to shift the blame on his bookers, one of whom promised Stefanik that she could chat with the CNN anchor by phone prior to committing.
“I can’t account for every email from my excellent bookers whose job it is to present me with as many options as possible,” Tapper wrote. “I have just refused to allow any of the Liars, such as Rep Stefanik, on air. Kind of stunning to see her proudly identify as a conspiracy theorist.”
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Fox News reached out to CNN to ask why Tapper would have his staff reach out to politicians he refuses to have on-air. A CNN spokesperson pointed to Tapper’s tweets but did not address any inquiries.
However, Stefanik was apparently not the only pro-Trump Republican lawmaker invited on Tapper’s programs numerous times who also challenged the 2020 election results.
“Ignore @JakeTapper’s public virtue signaling,” tweeted Abigail Marone, press secretary of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “@CNNSotu has asked @HawleyMO to come on 18 TIMES since Jan 6. We have the receipts.”
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Marone similarly shared screenshots of emails showing Tapper’s team reaching out to Hawley’s office.
While he never explicitly singled out Hawley as someone who was virtually banned from “The Lead” and “State of the Union,” Tapper did scold him on-air and attempted to shame Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. for working on a bipartisan bill combatting sexual assault in the military.
The CNN anchor offered a similar fiery response to Hawley’s press secretary.
“And if the bookers had come to me and said he was an option I would have said no, as I have for every Election Liar,” Tapper told Marone. “I only started explaining to them last month the reasons behind my saying no to every Big Liar. Weird to admit that your boss is an Election Liar but ok.”
He added, “I mean give her credit, I didn’t even mention Hawley but he’s one of most notorious election Liars, some GOP senators hold him responsible for the insurrection. So she knows who she works for!!!”
Marone shot back, accusing Tapper of actively participating in “spreading the Trump-Russia hoax” and slammed him for admitting that he knowingly did not fact-check Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who falsely accused Trump of calling the coronavirus a “hoax” during a March 2020 interview on “State of the Union.”
“I thought about it, because the president did not call the virus a hoax,” Tapper tweeted at the time. “But I didn’t because he *did* call a hoax the concerns of those saying that the response from the president was insufficient and that he was downplaying the gravity of the crisis. And that too was a lie.”
Some critics mocked the CNN star for repeatedly falling back on his bookers for inviting guests he apparently did not want.
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“Jake Tapper throws his staffers under the bus while trying to spin his way out of a lie,” former DNI Richard Grenell reacted.
“Jake passing the buck cause he feels like it…until he doesn’t want to and can throw punches like a loyal Zucker footsoldier,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck wrote, referring to CNN President Jeff Zucker.
“Your ‘senior planning producer’ says ‘happy to get her on the phone with Jake prior to committing.’ What’s that – to see if she’s game to comment on ‘the insurrection’? She’s trying to convince Stefanik’s team to get her on your show,” Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer tweeted.
While Tapper presents himself as some sort of beacon of truth in journalism but avoided covering major controversies in 2020 like the Hunter Biden allegations that emerged in the final weeks of the presidential election and the theory that the coronavirus pandemic originated from a Wuhan lab leak in China.
He himself has engaged in falsehoods like promoting Rebekah Jones, the former Florida health official who floated the conspiracy that the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered her to alter the state’s COVID data, and, most famously, the Russian collusion narrative that attempted to delegitimize Trump’s election victory in 2016.
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“This guy, and his colleagues, religiously pushed the Russia collusion lies for years. Those lies were believed by nearly 100% of his audience. He can sit down. Caring about election integrity is a bare minimum requirement of elected officials, not disqualifying, not a lie,” The Federalist senior editor and Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway tweeted.
Critics also have pointed to guests who Tapper has featured on his programs including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who infamously claimed he had seen “evidence” of Russian collusion that never surfaced, Michael Avenatti, the disgraced anti-Trump lawyer who touted a “gang rape” allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation,” and white nationalist Richard Spencer,
However, no guest seems to undercut Tapper election integrity sanctimony than former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has been invited onto his CNN programs numerous times despite never having conceded her 2018 defeat in Georgia.
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“It sure is interesting how that big ‘denying the legitimacy of an election’ door doesn’t swing both ways. Much moralizing,” Spectator contributor Stephen Miller tweeted.
CNN did not respond to Fox News’ inquiry as to why Abrams appears to be exempt from his stance when it comes to booking “election liars” on his programs.
Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” rejected the idea of banning any GOP lawmaker who opposed certifying President Biden’s electoral victory and challenged the results of the 2020 election.
“I don’t think moral posturing goes well with news gathering,” Wallace told Politico. “There are plenty of people I would like to have on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that voted to challenge the election — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for one. And I don’t have any rule about what the first question has to be. I have asked plenty of guests about voting to challenge the election and about Trump’s role in the January 6th insurrection. But I cover the news, wherever that takes me.”
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Tapper appears to have lost admirers of his during his transformation as a journalist in the Trump era.
“I know it’s a cliche to talk about how people used to be better or how Trump broke their brains or whatever, but I used to admire the effort Jake Tapper made to be fair (even if he didn’t always succeed) and defended him from s— he took for it, and now that is all totally gone,” Tablet Magazine CTO Noam Blum wrote.