How Jake Tapper Continues To Win Over Audiences With Forthright Coverage

The media is under fire.

As the news media struggles to figure out how to cover President Donald Trump, one prominent journalist is leading by example: Jake Tapper.

Since the president's campaign began, Trump has consistently and unabashedly slammed CNN for their ratings, alleged "fake news," and a so-called bias towards former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But instead of slinging mud, Tapper — one of CNN's most recognizable faces — has continued to give interviews to Trump surrogates, stuck to the facts, and admitted error when he or CNN were in the wrong. 

Perhaps there was no better example of that reporting than when Tapper invited one of Trump's top advisors, Kellyanne Conway, onto his show this week.

During their interview, Tapper managed to ask a number of pointed, fact-based questions about lies from the Trump administration while refraining from being insulting, demeaning, or talking over his guest. At one point in the interview, Tapper pushed Conway on Trump's comments that the murder rate was the "highest it's been in 47 years," a demonstrably false claim that could potentially stoke fear amongst Americans. (Trump had even accused the media of not reporting these high crime rates.)

Here is how Tapper navigated it:

In another exchange, Tapper pushed Conway about the president's similar claims that major media outlets have let terrorist attacks go unreported or underreported. The administration provided a list of 78 attacks they say were ignored by the media, and Tapper used that list to show a dozen of their examples were actually given major airtime on CNN, including on-the-ground coverage that Tapper did himself.

Here is Tapper showing Conway the footage of CNN covering terrorist attacks that Trump's administration claimed weren't covered:

During the exchange, Conway was forced to admit that "CNN did amazing coverage for weeks at a time," a rare compliment from the Trump administration about media coverage.

Later in the interview, Tapper asked Conway plainly, "is CNN fake news?" The question came after Trump and several White House officials repeatedly decried CNN, The New York Times and others as "fake news." 

"No, I don't think CNN is fake news," Conway said.

Tapper's handling of the Trump administration has been a great example to other journalists for months, not just post-inauguration. In early December we reported on how he tackled fake news by going straight to the source. His words carry extra weight, too, because he is willing to criticize his own colleagues when they make mistakes. When former DNC chair and CNN political analyst Donna Brazile was exposed for giving Hillary Clinton a debate question, Tapper called her out on the air. 

Since then, he's had several opening segments of his show go viral for their forthright nature. Instead of attacking the character of the president or his officials, instead of calling lies "falsehoods" or "misrepresentations" or "alternative facts," Tapper has simply lined up footage of contradictory statements made by the president and his administration.

The result is a message that resonates with the millions of Americans desperate for a trustworthy news source. Balanced coverage devoid of insults and mud-slinging is valuable and it's worthwhile.

It'll be interesting to see if the rest of the media world catches on. 

Cover image via Shutterstock / photo.ua.

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