ABC’s Tapper a Welcome Voice in White House Press Corps

Thursday, 08 Sep 2011 09:16 AM

By Matt Towery

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Finally the candy-pants White House press corps has come to its senses. Or at least a few members of that pro-Obama, softball-tossing group of so-called journalists have.

Chief among them, and from traditional media, is ABC's Jake Tapper.

I was amazed in early August when Tapper challenged the boyish-looking and smug presidential press secretary Jay Carney (who, ironically, is married to one of Tapper's fellow correspondents at ABC). Tapper up and asked what if any plans the president had to create jobs in America.

It was part of a rare, unique barrage of questions toward Carney, and he was unable to handle it.

Carney stumbled and stammered. He was probably shocked that a reporter from one of the old-time networks would dare to challenge Carney's boss. After a few babbled words from Carney, Tapper pressed his point by noting that the president recently had been to fundraisers, but without ever mentioning the topic of jobs.

Carney shot back by basically saying that the president had been working on the issue, and then made this startling statement: "We strongly believe, as I've said, that we will continue to grow and to create jobs."

That statement was in early August. But early in September we found out that the nation had not seen any job growth whatsoever. Clearly, Jake Tapper had touched a very sore subject for the president and his press secretary.

After Carney's shocking claim, Tapper said: "We hear (President Obama) hectoring Congress about all the stuff that needs to be done to create jobs. What is he doing today?"

Carney danced and sidestepped to the point that the ABC correspondent said, "You're the one always saying the president can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Wow. Had that come from equally qualified reporters from Fox News, it would have been shot down by most media as out of line. But because it came from a reporter from a network that is viewed by many as leaning to the left, it resulted in a stunning knockout blow, with Carney completely at a loss to keep his exposed glass jaw covered.

Now national columnists such as the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Malcolm are starting to take note of Tapper's courage in taking on the previously "untouchable" Obama administration.

Malcolm writes: "Quite a few national media outlets must have missed Teamsters President James Hoffa's Labor Day Speech . . . because they neglected to mention the union boss's canine quote about the tea party: 'Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where (unions) belong.'"

Malcolm went on to note that Jake Tapper on this issue again had the fortitude to firmly question press spokesman Carney. Tapper asked if the union boss's harsh comments were appropriate, given that they were made on the same stage and at the same rally where Obama also spoke.

Once again, Carney muddled his way through an answer and reminded all listeners of his general lack of experience in fielding tough questions from the White House press corps.

Tapper reminded Carney of the president's own words after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, when the president noted that America was too polarized and that everyone should pause and make sure we are talking in a manner that heals and doesn't wound.

Carney's answer to that rather problematic question was to assert that Hoffa appeared on the stage 20 minutes before President Obama and that the president had no idea what Hoffa said.

Carney had fallen into the trap, because that position is an apparent double standard. Recall in 2008 at a campaign rally for John McCain, in which nationally syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham was introducing McCain. Cunningham kept referring to Obama by his full name, "Barack Hussein Obama."

McCain later disassociated himself from Cunningham for this perceived slight of Obama.

After Tapper asked Carney if there was now a new standard for what is appropriate to say in 2012, Carney just danced around the issue. Tapper once again decked Carney by saying, "I'd rather not do this Washington Kabuki every time something happens."

Kabuki indeed. Now the rest of the correspondents for the "mainstream, old-line" media will have to either start following Tapper's lead, or join the Washington Kabuki Theater Troup.

As for Tapper, if history is any guide, he'll probably end up on Fox News with all the others who had the courage to buck a Democrat.

Matt Towery is author of the book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. Follow him on Twitter @matttowery.





© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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