This post was inspired by reading that yesterday, ABC WH correspondent Jake Tapper asked Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney how President Obama could criticize the Republicans debt ceiling threats when he voted in the Senate against the debt ceiling when Bush was President. h/t Steve Benen.
Any sentient political writer or observer knows this is complete nonsense -- that until 2011, the votes were symbolic by both parties, and there was never a prior threat to cripple the US and the world financially until that year. And yet here was "Senior WH Correspondent" Jake Tapper, asking a nonsense question that could have been supplied by McConnell or Boehner.
Back in the primeval, pre-blog days of 2000, there was little to read politically online except Salon and Slate. Slate was already showing signs of phony, harmful contrarianism ("even the liberal Slate . . ."), with the likes of Mickey Kaus, Greg Easterbrook and Will Saletan. But Salon was reliably progressive, and one of the best writers there was Jake Tapper. Tapper was a good reporter, leaning liberal, but fair and objective. His coverage of the 2000 election theft was excellent, and led to a pretty good book about it: Down and Dirty, the Plot to Steal the Presidency. Although the book indicted both sides, the Bush forces were indicted for lying and cheating, and the Dems for weakness and incompetence. I can't argue with that.
Although Tapper didn't do much exposing of lies before the Iraq War, shortly after the war started, he did do some good pieces on the deception that led to the war. For example, on March 26, 2003, he wrote a column, Sticker Shock . . and Awe about the phony projections of cost and duration by the Bush administration. In June he wrote columns titled Weapons of Mass Deception and The Hyping of Saddam's WMD.
In 2003, Tapper joined ABC News, and in 2008 he was made WH Correspondent. Now, Tapper has become a fount of Village CW, sometimes sinking to Maureen Dowd-like depths such as speculation on whether Obama is still smoking In October 2009, Tapper joined the other networks in fainting at how cruel the Obama administration was being to its sister "news organization," Fox.
Tapper: It's escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations "not a news organization" and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it's appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –In August of this year, Tapper appeared on the Laura Ingraham show and sank to her (very low) level, expressing dismay that the Romney tax return issue had been covered so much:
I was surprised that the tax issue got as much coverage as it did. [...] I thought the Media helped tip the scales [..] the coverage in 2008 was not fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain. [...] It was not always the fairest coverage and I hope that does not happen again. [...] I think the emphasis on [the tax issue] compared to the emphasis on the housing crisis or 8.3% unemployment is difficult to understand.See post here by Armando.
Like a puppy eager to please his right wing host, Tapper adopted the theme (belied by studies) that Obama received fawning press coverage in 2008 and that "tipped the scales."
And now, Jake is parroting nonsense about Obama's debt ceiling vote taken directly from thousands of right wing email chains that has been thoroughly debunked from 2011 on.
In 2009, Tapper gave an interview to Media Bistro. This was one telling answer:
Your writing at Salon was more opinionated in tone. Was it an adjustment to move to your quote-unquote unbiased role at ABC?Translation:
No, because I'm not a particularly dogmatic person. I have not found it difficult. In fact, I've found it much easier -- even when I was at Salon, but certainly much more so since, -- to try to be as politically agnostic as possible. It's much more interesting anyway if you don't think you know the answer to what is right or wrong in politics. And that's not to say there are not rights and wrongs, but just that they are not dictated by any one particular point of view. So no, actually it suits me much better. I never felt completely comfortable; I never fit in perfectly at Salon, as much as I loved writing for Salon. I never fit in perfectly because I didn't have an established point of view, and I didn't view the world as automatically 'so-and-so should be elected and such-and-such a view is wrong.'
At Salon, they have a sense of right and wrong and true and false, so it made me uncomfortable. Now I can pretend that there's no real answer even when side is completely full of crap! Even nonsense about the debt ceiling or whether Fox is really a news organization. It's so liberating! (Oh -- and they pay me a shitload of money too.)Tapper is hardly the worst -- He hasn't, for example, fallen to the depths of David Gregory. . . yet. But he's disappointing because at Salon, he showed he can be good.
We hardly knew ye, Jake.