During the election’s 24-hour news cycle, an array of Trump surrogates pulled off some outrageous claims. Much of this was due to their candidate and his controversial rhetoric that became the norm on cable network screens. That Trump’s bombastic nature became conventional was to the credit of his spin masters — including Kellyanne Conway, Katrina Pierson, and Paul Manafort — who could weave a story through so many cycles that people would forget what the segment was originally about.
Most anchors would rather throw their hands up than argue with brick-wall surrogates, but there were certainly some holdouts who cut through the bullsh*t. Megyn Kelly was an early standout who went toe-to-toe with Trump and stood her ground tirelessly, though she softened up during their solo interview. One anchor who never let people off the hook was CNN’s Jake Tapper, whose work was a constant reminder that cable news can feature civil conversations between adults.
The CNN anchor never interrupted a surrogate or treated them with disrespect, but he did challenge them, and he did so with a cool and collected demeanor. Whenever an interview segment could have devolved into a shouting match, Tapper would firmly push back and not let guests skate by with prepared remarks. It was an attitude that produced some engrossing interviews and propelled Tapper to MVP election status. Not only that, but Tapper’s resolute manner makes him an indispensable asset for the coming four years (and beyond).
Here are a few of Tapper’s best moments from this year.
Tapper Had No Patience For Diversion Tactics
Several Trump surrogates specialized in the art of diversion. Anchors would question surrogates over the latest outlandish thing to come out of Trump’s mouth, only to be greeted with a changed subject. This provided for a never ending cycle of literal face palms by the anchors. Trump’s human deflection machine would come in many forms, but there was no one more willing to bend over backwards than Katrina Pierson. She was never the most prepared of the Trump surrogates with answers often spiraling into nonsensical ramblings that led nowhere.
The below example saw Pierson lambast Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables” comment. She claimed it was not fair for “deplorables” to be called racist simply because they want stop ISIS. Tapper was quick to counterpoint how, in this instance, “deplorables” referred to those who leveled Islamophobic rhetoric. Pierson didn’t back down, but Tapper wasn’t having any of it: “Katrina … no one has called people who don’t want ISIS to move into their neighborhood ‘Islamophobic.’ That has never happened in the history of the world.” While some anchors may have shown frustration, Tapper prevailed with a cooler head.