CNN host Jake Tapper, who has called out Donald Trump as both a presidential candidate and now as the leader of the free world, defended his journalistic integrity during an interview published by GQ magazine Tuesday.
“President [Barack] Obama was not friendly to the press, but the press was very friendly to President Obama,” Tapper said. “I mean, President Obama did not like me, and I understand why. I was a pain in his a** and I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, and, you know, a lot of other people did.”
But as Tapper pointed out, he has been extremely critical of both Obama and Trump.
Last year, Tapper cornered Trump over his assertion that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge of Mexican heritage who was born in Indiana, couldn’t rule fairly in the Trump University case because of the judge’s race.
“I have had horrible rulings. I have been treated very unfairly by this judge,” Trump told Tapper during a June 2016 interview.
“Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall. I’m building a wall [between the U.S. and Mexico],” he said in the interview, suggesting that Curiel was incapable of issuing a fair ruling because of his ancestral ties to Mexico.
“So no Mexican judge could ever be involved in a case if it involves you?” Tapper asked Trump.
Trump replied, “He’s a member of a society that’s very pro-Mexico. And that’s fine. But I think he should recuse himself.”
Tapper further pressed Trump, asking, “If you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?”
Tapper’s criticism of Trump runs even deeper than that, though.
In February, Tapper excoriated Trump aide Kellyanne Conway for the president falsely stating more than once that the U.S. murder rate is the highest it has been in 47 years. Referring to the figure, Trump said during a meeting with U.S. sheriffs that, “I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn’t like to tell it like it is,” CNN reported.
During his Feb. 7 interview with Conway, Tapper blasted: “And again, Kellyanne, the media doesn’t report it because it’s a lie. Because it’s not true.”
GQ noted that because of these testy exchanges with Trump and some of his closest aides, some Republicans allege that Tapper is a “liberal shill.”
But as recently as January, Tapper hearkened back to calling out Obama for his administration’s treatment of Fox News, specifically regarding the conservative outlet’s White House pool access. The Obama administration in 2009 tried to grant interviews to NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN with Obama administration executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.
The administration initially declined to let Fox News interview Feinberg because it claimed Fox was “not a news organization.”
White House pool reporters, including Tapper, revolted.
Tapper, then a White House correspondent for ABC News, challenged Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for the assertion.
“I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a ‘news organization’ – why is that appropriate for the White House to say?” Tapper asked Gibbs, according to Mediaite.
Gibbs replied, “That’s our opinion.”
Tapper later called the administration’s labeling of Fox News “a pretty sweeping declaration.”
And don’t forget about the time Tapper took Obama’s State Department to task for removing from its website an unflattering December 2013 exchange between then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and Fox News reporter James Rosen.
The tense back and forth had to do with the Obama State Department’s ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
In February 2013, then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the administration was not in direct talks with Iran, even though it was later revealed there were ongoing discussions. Months later, in December 2013, Rosen asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki if it was U.S. policy to “lie” in order to achieve certain diplomatic outcomes.
“James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress,” Psaki responded.
After initially claiming a “glitch” caused the video of Psaki and Rosen to be deleted from the State Department website, the Obama administration finally admitted in 2016 the removal was not by accident. Following that stunning revelation, Tapper used his CNN show to excoriate the Obama administration for it’s lack of transparency.
“It’s literally someone at the State Department trying to bury something, hiding it from you,” Tapper said in 2016, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “In this case, it was an acknowledgment by the Obama administration of having lied to reporters, a scrubbing of the public record, and it should outrage every American.”