Tapper’s past pokes at Trump renew CNN bias concerns on eve of debate

Tapper’s past pokes at Trump renew CNN bias concerns on eve of debate

Yes America, he said it! “They don’t even want you to see Jake Tapper’s past” ~Sean Spicer

By Ben Whedon

With CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash set to moderate the first presidential debate on Thursday, the network and other Biden-friendly media have attempted to brush aside some of their prior comments indicating a bias against former President Donald Trump. But Tapper’s on-air record is extensive and the campaign sees good reason for Trump to not expect even-handed treatment.

The Trump campaign agreed to the debate after publicly negotiating the affair with President Joe Biden through a string of social media posts. The Republican camp has suggested that Trump expects to fight an uphill battle, with the moderators propping up Biden, and that he would nonetheless deliver his intended message during the debate.

That narrative has not sat well with the network, however, and CNN anchor Kasie Hunt this week ended an interview with Trump National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt over her comments highlighting Tapper’s prior statements about Trump.

“President Trump is knowingly going into a hostile environment on this very network, on CNN, with debate moderators who have made their opinions about him very well known over the past eight years and their biased coverage of him,” Leavitt said during the interview.

Hunt subsequently defended her colleagues, though Leavitt persisted, saying, “it takes about five minutes to Google Jake Tapper, Donald Trump to see that Jake Tapper has… compared Trump to Adolf Hitler.” Hunt ended the interview mid-segment.

During an appearance on Sky News Australia, former White House Communications Director Sean Spicer addressed the episode and highlighted that Leavitt had “asked viewers to Google Jake Tapper and President Trump.”

“They don’t even want you to see Jake Tapper’s past,” he said. “Jake Tapper was a Democratic House staffer who worked for Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law when she was a member of Congress from Pennsylvania… he also worked for a very left-wing organization called Handgun Control.”

Spicer appeared to refer to Tapper’s former employment with then-Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky.

“I don’t know what they’re afraid of… but the reality is that’s what I think we can get used to expecting,” he went on. “On the debate stage, when Jake Tapper doesn’t like what Trump is saying, he’s just gonna mute his mic. On Thursday, it’s gonna be Trump versus the moderators and Joe Biden.”

“Jake Tapper and Dana Bash are well respected veteran journalists who have covered politics for more than five decades combined,” CNN said in a statement. “They have extensive experience moderating major political debates, including CNN’s Republican Presidential Primary Debate this cycle. There are no two people better equipped to co-moderate a substantial and fact-based discussion and we look forward to the debate on June 27 in Atlanta.”

Some commentators have met CNN’s denials with skepticism: “We acknowledge the importance of not judging a performance before it begins. Perhaps Tapper and Bash will prove skeptics wrong on Thursday by moderating a fair and balanced debate. However, skepticism is warranted. Tapper and Bash are not impartial journalists on the topic of Donald Trump,” said Outkick.

Comparing Trump to Hitler

Leavitt’s remarks about Tapper’s comparison were accurate. Tapper, in an on-air segment, previously stated that “the dehumanizing rhetoric of Adolf Hitler is once again alive and well on a national political stage. This time, of course, in the United States. This time, given life by former president and current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.”

Bash, for her part, addressed Trump’s remarks in March stating that “Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion,” calling the comment a “longstanding antisemitic trope that the true allegiance for Jews is to their religion rather than their country. It was used in Nazi Germany to justify the arrest, persecutions, and mass killings, and attempted extermination of the Jewish people. And Trump has been pushing this trope for years.”

The canard of “Very fine people”

President Donald Trump for years faced allegations referred to neo-Nazis and white nationalists as “very fine people” when discussing the 2017 Charlottesville rally, including recently from CNN’s Kasie Hunt. In the same remarks, Trump explicitly said that such persons should be “condemned totally.” Seven years later, even left-wing fact-checking organization Snopes corrected the record and labeled the assertion as false.

While Tapper himself did admit that Trump had condemned neo-Nazis and White supremacists and did not refer to them as “very fine people,” he attempted to dissuade Trump allies from using his commentary to correct the record. In an August 2020 post, for instance, Tapper pushed back against America First PAC and said “I really wish you folks would stop quoting me out of context.”

“Trump called the people marching *with* them ‘very fine people’ and given the ‘Jews will not replace us’ chant Friday night and the murder of Heather Heyer Saturday I don’t know who those folks are OR WHY the president seemed unable at a time of horror to unequivocally condemn the folks who were neo Nazi-adjacent,” he editorialized.

“The Charlottesville lie was another hoax perpetuated by the corrupt Democrats and their mouthpieces in the fake news media,” Leavitt said this week.

COVID-19

“We cannot ignore that much of Mr. Trump’s personal response to the pandemic has been insufficient and deceptive and not focused enough clearly on one issue: saving lives,” Tapper said in March of 2020, calling on Trump to step aside from pandemic briefings. “If President Trump is not capable of leading stably and effectively, he should at least for his own reputation, for the good of the country, stop making things worse and consider leaving the podium to others.”

In October of 2020, moreover, Tapper excoriated Trump over his diagnosis with COVID-19, which he suggested was the result of Trump’s personal disregard for pandemic guidelines.

“Make no mistake, this was not just reckless behavior, this was a demonstration of a wanton disregard for human life. President Trump, now in quarantine, has become a symbol of his own failures,” he said at the time.

Russia collusion

Throughout Trump’s administration, Tapper’s program was a consistent platform for major proponents of the now-debunked Trump-Russia collusion narrative, featuring legislators such as California Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff.

Tapper himself continued to frame the narrative against Trump even after the publication of the Mueller Report, which found no evidence of collusion. Tapper instead highlighted that the special counsel had not explicitly exonerated Trump. When critiquing Trump’s own remarks on the matter, he pointed to apparent inaccuracies, but went on to editorialize to a considerable extent about what he deemed the administration’s lack of candor.

“Now, there was a time in the Trump presidency when his people would try to either explain his falsehoods as somehow in the neighborhood of something possibly accurate or they would just change the subject, but there has been a long slow slide and to just taking his lies and asserting them to you and you are paying for those lies in more ways than just making a sign,” he said in May of 2019.

Tapper has occasionally corrected the record, in at least one case admitting that Biden was wrong in claiming that his son made no money from foreign entities.

Defamation suit

While not related to Trump, Tapper’s program currently stands at the center of a defamation lawsuit from Zachary Young, owner of security consulting firm Nemex Enterprises, over the network’s coverage of its operations. Tapper himself is not a defendant.

Young’s organization worked to evacuate Afghans during the 2021 Taliban takeover of the country. At issue is a video segment from a CNN reporter that aired on Tapper’s program and Young’s allegations that CNN had accused him of operating in a “black market” and charging “exorbitant” fees. Some observers have speculated that the lawsuit could cost CNN as much as $1 billion.

“Do you think it’s racist to vote for President Trump in 2020?”

Tapper asked the question of former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke in August of 2019.

Tapper cut off footage of a pro-Trump crowd in Miami

Last June, Trump entered a not guilty plea in special counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents case. While the network initially showed Trump, Tapper asked the control room to cease displaying the footage.

“The folks in the control room: I don’t need to see any more of that. He’s trying to turn this into a spectacle, into a campaign ad. That’s enough of that. We’ve seen it already,” he said.

CNN did not respond to Just the News‘ request for comment.

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Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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(TLB) published   this report  with permission of John Solomon at Just the News.  Click Here to read about the staff at Just the News

Header featured image (edited) credit: Tapper/Getty Images

Emphasis added by (TLB)

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