CNN’s Jake Tapper chatted with New York Times Kara Swisher this week for her Sway podcast. The two spoke about his new book, The Devil May Dance, as well as the future of the news business and his role at CNN.
Tapper is pleased about the upcoming merger with Discovery because it could might that his boss Jeff Zucker stays longer than planned:
…he has a really good, long relationship with David Zaslav, the head of Discovery, then that’s really good news for those of us who like working with Jeff Zucker, which includes me certainly. So two, I think just in terms of the survival of the company in this ever-changing world, Its good news because if we are teamed with Discovery, which is an incredibly strong brand, that’s great. That’s great news for CNN’s survival and for Warner Media’s survival.
Swisher brought up her recent interview with Don Lemon, who said that there could be something in the form of a “Don Lemon subscription network” at some point in the future. Does Tapper believe personality-driven news is the future?
I mean Don and I do different things and primetime is different from late afternoon, early evening, which is when I’m on. And the show I’m doing right now from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern every day, every weekday, is the show I want to do. And it relies on there being an international news network like CNN where Clarissa Ward, who’s an amazing reporter, or a Nima Elbagir, who is an amazing reporter, can go into Ethiopia and go into Myanmar and hand in to me an amazing 9-minute piece that we can air that would not air on World News Tonight or NBC Nightly News because it’s too long and too foreign.
Tapper continue to differentiate his role from Lemon’s:
I think Don’s show is different from mine. And Don’s a different person and Don’s in primetime and I’m not. So it’s called for different energies because people coming to primetime wanting something different than when they come to watch the news at 4:00 or 5:00. But I see my role as not being particularly opinionated except for things about which I think it’s fine to have an opinion such as truth and facts and just basic decency. But I’m not out there saying, this tax bill needs to be this or this particular legislation needs to pass. That’s not my style.
The Lead anchor also spoke about his refusal to book “liars,” on his show, and people who refuse to admit that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election:
Which is I have not booked, since the election, anyone who’s engaged in these lies. I just, I haven’t. It’s not a policy but it’s a philosophy where I just don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to deal and it really saddens me because there are Republican members of Congress with whom I respect, or formerly did. And there’s too many important things to deal with right now in terms of what’s going on in the Middle East or in Africa or in Myanmar or China or Russia. And, also, if you’re willing to lie about that, what else are you willing to lie about? And why should my viewers listen to you?
These liars, according to Tapper, happen to include some of the top-ranking members of the Republican party:
Well, I mean there’s about a third of the House Republican caucus that I am willing to book. I could name them to you if you want.
So Kevin McCarthy?
No. I would not book Kevin McCarthy.
No. Steve Scalise? I wouldn’t. Now if they came to me and said that they wanted to, I don’t think any of them, Scalise or McCarthy or [Elise] 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.
Swisher also asked Tapper to address the Chris Cuomo saga:
Such a complicated issue. And obviously this is my company and my home and my workplace. And so, that said, I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate. So I agree with that. And he said, Chris, in his apology that he delivered on air, said that he put us in a bad spot. And I would also agree with that. And then just as a last point I would say that I work very hard to be fair and to be ethical and to not cross lines. And I certainly understand the love that Chris has for his brother, and I have a brother and I get it. But that was not a fun day.
And finally, he addressed Brooke Baldwin’s remarks about the influence and salary of men at CNN relative to women.
I think what Brooke said was wrong. I love Brooke, I’m a fan of Brooke, but I think what she said was just factually incorrect. I know a number of women anchors, Dana Bash, Abby Phillip, Kate Bolduan, Erin Burnett, Brianna Keilar, Alisyn Camerota, Ana Cabrera, I mean there’s so many. And I think to suggest that there aren’t it kind of —
That they don’t have influence.
It’s not true. And also there are a number, I mean, arguably Allison Gollust of communications is one of the most powerful and influential people at CNN. Women run a lot at CNN. In terms of my show, just because you touched on it, the only thing I’ll say is it’s very important to me, as a white man, to make sure that the show reflects the diversity of our nation. And I’m always telling my team, and they know this, and my team is incredibly diverse, that I don’t want any all-white men panels ever. Period. Done. I don’t want it. I don’t want it and it does happen, rarely.
I support my women colleagues mainly because they’re excellent. But yes, I also like supporting fixing the problems.