Why would CNN’s Jake Tapper bring a U.S. soldier on his show and blatantly insult him and the 11 SEALS and 8 soldiers who died alongside him in combat in Afghanistan?
Answer: He wouldn’t. He didn’t.
But thanks to conservative radio personality and world renowned dingbat Glenn Beck and The Blaze‘s Oliver Darcy, Tapper was still up at 2 a.m. this morning arguing for journalism to happen. In other words, he wanted his words interpreted fairly. He wanted what he voiced Friday to be spelled out without the glaze of crazy. On his program Friday, Tapper interviewed former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and Mark Wahlberg for the movie Lone Survivor. The movie, debuting this weekend, is based on Luttrell’s 2007 memoir by the same name.
The only thing The Blaze got right was that the interview turned tense. The interpretation? Entirely wrong. Sometimes in journalism, common sense must prevail. But fat chance of that happening as Darcy dug in his heels and insisted that Tapper had repeatedly told Luttrell and Wahlberg that the soldiers died for nothing. Not even watching the show blind drunk on Ambien could it be interpreted like that. Darcy desperately needs a course in TV watching. (Hey BuzzFeed‘s Dorsey Shaw, can you tutor him? Start slowly with something like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or Sex Sent Me to the ER (a real show) and build up to CNN’s “The Lead.”)
In his story, Darcy claimed that “Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell pushed back at CNN’s Jake Tapper after the host suggested in an interview that the ‘lone survivor’s’ fellow veterans died for nothing.” What Tapper actually said? “I don’t want any more senseless American deaths.”
But let’s look at it in full context.
“One of the emotions I felt while watching the film is first of all the hopelessness of the situation — how horrific it was and also just all that loss of life of these brave American men,” Tapper said on his program Friday. “And I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself. I don’t want any more senseless American death. And at the same time I know that there were bad people there and good people that need help.”
At that moment, Luttrell strangely misinterpreted Tapper’s comments, and things grew tense. Luttrell snapped, “I don’t know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness really ever came into it. I mean, where did you see that? Because there was never a point where we just felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that. We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing until we were actually dead.” It was bizarre. But it’s also tough to say why Luttrell interpreted Tapper’s words as he did. To The Mirror, it seemed the SEAL had a hair trigger temperment, as though he was poised for battle. How he confused “I don’t want any more senseless American death” for ‘the soldiers died for nothing’ is baffling.
Even after Tapper tried to explain himself, Luttrell wasn’t having it.
Tapper: “Just the sense of all these wonderful people who died. It seemed senseless. I don’t mean to disrespect in any way, but it seemed senseless — all of these wonderful people who were killed for an op that went wrong.”
Luttrell: “We spend our whole lives training to defend this country and then we were sent over there by this country — so you’re telling me because we were over there doing what we were told by our country that it was senseless. And my guys — what? They died for nothing?”
Tapper: “No, I’m not saying that.”
Luttrell: “That’s what you said. So, let me just say, it went bad for us over there, but that was our job. That’s what we did. We didn’t complain about it.”
Except that’s not what Tapper said. Nonetheless the headline The Blaze blared: ‘They Died For Nothing?’ Marcus Luttrell Hits Back At CNN Host in Tense Interview.”
UPDATE: Tapper explained to The Mirror, “The whole reason I aired that part of the interview was because I think that disconnect – my reaction to the movie as a civilian, his feelings about the mission as a warrior – is an important part of our society that we never talk about. I knew that some people might misinterpret it for the sake of cheap clicks but I think that disconnect between civilians and the one percent who fight and die for us is worth bringing some attention to. Obviously anybody familiar with my book, my travels to Afghanistan and Iraq and my coverage of troops and veterans knows that this meme is not an accurate one.”
TALE OF THE TAPE: The Twitter battle royale between Tapper and Darcy with a sprinkling of Beck.
12:32 a.m. Oliver Darcy tweets his story.
Tapper, 1:13 a.m. “
@oliverdarcy don’t think 1st paragraph is accurate. No one said they died for nothing. Are you at all familiar w my reporting on the war?”
Darcy, 1:17 a.m. “
@jaketapper no one bluntly said they died for nothing & that’s not what I reported. you did however make the suggestion repeatedly.”
Darcy, 1:18 a.m. “@jaketapper ’It seemed senseless. I don’t mean to disrespect in any way, but it seemed senseless.’”
Tapper, 1:25 a.m. “@oliverdarcy then quote, don’t mischaracterize.Spent yrs reporting on heroes like these. said clearly I wasn’t saying they died for nothing.:
Tapper, 1:26 a.m. “@oliverdarcy there is a big difference between saying a death is senseless and saying the person died for nothing.”
Darcy, 1:30 a.m. “
@jaketapper can you please define what the difference exactly is?”
Darcy, 1:31 a.m. “
@jaketapper I don’t want to engage in a twitter argument, just having a hard time following you here… I don’t feel I mischaracterized you.”
Tapper, 1:32 a.m. “
@oliverdarcy I emailed you. If you legitimately want to understand the difference you can write me back.”
Glenn Beck, 1:32 a.m. “Jake tapper ‘taking on’ Marcus Luttrell? Jake, I don’t recommend doing that again. Really. But nice save.”
Tapper, 1:36 a.m. “
@oliverdarcy you can state what I said or editorialize/judge what you think I was suggesting even tho I dispute it. One is journalism.”
Glenn Beck, 1:39 a.m. “The best my friend has ever been on tv. This is the Marcus the world should know and J. Tapper never met.”
Darcy, 1:40 a.m. “@jaketapper I respect your work, but don’t feel I mischaracterized your comments. I think you did make the suggestion.”
Darcy, 1:41 a.m. “@jaketapper in the interest of being fair, I’ll note that you do disagree with the characterization & would be happy to include a statement.”
Tapper, 2:05 a.m. “@oliverdarcy a person is the best judge of what he is suggesting. Just quote me, no need to put words in my mouth.”