I like Jake Tapper. I like what he’s done for veterans, and how he has covered conflict and the military. I think he’s generally, to include Anderson Cooper, one of the more straight-laced, genuine and principled broadcasters CNN has.
I also know bullshit when I see it.
Tapper spent his Tuesday night CNN show, “The Lead,” reporting on the terrorist attack that happened the same day in Manhattan, and of course covered the news when it broke that the terrorist was heard yelling “Allahu akbar.”
Here’s CNN justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz’s lead-in, word for word, emphasis ours:
I’m told by three sources now that the NYPD and the FBI are investigating this as a terrorism incident. Our understanding is that according to witnesses who police have now talked to, they’re saying — they’re telling police that they heard the driver saying, yelling ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’ during this incident, which is now leading authorities to believe that this is as a result, that this is now a terrorism case. And I’m just getting an update now that the FBI is taking over this case, because it appears now that this is terrorism.
And that’s when Tapper muffed it. At 4:47 p.m., just more than an hour after the attack, before going any further, he felt the need to genuflect before Islam.
Here’s what he said, word for word, emphasis ours:
The arabic chant ‘Allahu akbar,’ God is great. Sometimes said under the most beautiful of circumstances, and too often we hear it being said in moments like this. General Clapper, when you were director of national intelligence, you had afternoons like the one that the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is having right now. What goes through your mind? And what are the actions that you’re ordering the intelligence agencies to take?
Any rational viewer or reader is likely to take Tapper’s words here as an attempt to launder “Allahu akbar,” just an hour after the attack, just seconds after a CNN correspondent said it was used in conjunction with the killing of his American countrymen, for what we could assume at the time.
Worse yet, this kind of bending of the knee has become almost necessary prior to highlighting a crime perpetrated by a member of one of the media’s protected classes, in this case, Muslims.
Literally, linguistically, and journalistically, Tapper was telling Americans he was, for the moment, first concerned about rehabbing “Allahu akbar’s” image before turning to a man infinitely more capable of analyzing the situation and informing America about the latest terror attack — the former director of national intelligence.
The second Tapper heard the terrorist was yelling “Allahu akbar,” his kneejerk impulse was to wash the phrase.
So of course our media reporter wrote about it. The headline: “CNN’s Jake Tapper Calls Allahu Akbar ‘Beautiful’ After Terrorist Attack [VIDEO].”
Of course, the story blew up. It did so because Americans saw it for what it was: running press flak for the religion that happens to incubate the vast majority of the world’s terrorists.
Tapper’s response? Rather than own up, he doubled down. He assailed my media reporter. When I attempted to engage with him over email, in order to come to a compromise on a potential correction, I went unanswered. He took it to Twitter, a universe almost entirely populated by nerds wanting to get nerd famous.
His contention was superficial: Our headline and lead were not grammatically accurate. In short, he said, we were “liars” — omitting, of course, that we included his full statement from the start.
There was no shortage of journalists willing to carry water for Tapper and, as a result, conduct themselves with zero intellectual integrity.
To think, these same people say they value “speaking truth to power.” Here is a guy making a mistake in a position of power, picking on “some kid” who wrote a story about it, the spirit of which is abundantly clear and factually accurate.
Tapper and his Twitter weenies employed every fallacious tactic they could to avoid the substance of what made the article so popular. They launched into ad hominem. They launched into guilt by association. They implied a Clinton-esque “vast right wing conspiracy.”
But in at least one tweet, Tapper acknowledged the truth of the matter.
Had the reporting Tuesday night on “The Lead” had as much integrity as I believe it typically does, questions about the role of Islam in terrorism might have been the topic. After all, it’s not Christians shouting “peace be with you” as they drive over bicyclists in the free world.
If we can instantly talk about gun control while the blood dries on the pavement, why do we need to apologize for Islam in the moments after a terrorist attack? Was white supremacist hatred not a topic of conversation after the Charlottesville terror? In fact, it was all we could talk about.
To be up front, I say all this as a guy who has lived with, patrolled with, and risked death as a Marine embedded with Muslims. I’ve broken fast with them. I have a list of people I wish a happy Eid to every year. I think the call to prayer is at once haunting and beautiful. Sure, Tapper, I agree on the concept of what you said, just not the timing.
And you would think, as a man of integrity, Tapper could swallow his pride and admit his embarrassment. Certainly, an apology would have looked by orders or magnitude better than a full-scale meltdown in several 140 character snippets.
I was so surprised to see him launch into a freak out over a headline. I was so surprised he would willfully, disingenuously and misleadingly miss the overall point. If there is integrity in media, I thought, certainly it’s in the likes of Tapper.
In conclusion, I’ll say: We corrected the copy, Tapper, but it’s not substantively different. In fact, I think it looks worse for you.
The new headline reads: “‘Beautiful’: CNN’s Jake Tapper Compliments Allahu Akbar After Terrorist Attack [VIDEO]”
To remind you, the old: “CNN’s Jake Tapper Calls Allahu Akbar ‘Beautiful’ After Terrorist Attack [VIDEO]”
The new lead is equally worse for Tapper and clearly more aggressive, justifiably so:
CNN anchor Jake Tapper felt the need to immediately compliment the Islamic phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ — saying people said it in “beautiful” circumstances — minutes after reports of a terrorist attack in New York City, Tuesday on ‘The Lead.’
I’m not sure how you think this is better, Mr. Tapper, but there it is.
Just remember the article wasn’t popular because of its grammatical structure. It was popular because your attempt to sanitize an element of a terrorist act offended so many Americans.
In this time where feelings seemingly always need to be acknowledged, where offense seems to trump facts, I think at the very least you could acknowledge your foible hurt the sensibilities of many Americans.
Grammar aside, Mr. Tapper, you should take our lead, own up, and apologize to America.