This won’t sit well with his colleagues.
OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper has laid out his network’s plans on covering former President Donald Trump during the upcoming 2024 election cycle after several colleagues and many Democrats criticized the network’s town hall-style event in June hosted by Kaitlin Collins.
When asked by podcaster Kara Swisher how journalists should cover Trump, Tapper responded: “As he is.”
“We cover him as he is,” Tapper said, noting that Trump has “as good a chance as anyone of becoming the next president of the United States.”
“He’s the leading Republican nominee, and he says things that are not true. But we have to cover him, we can’t ignore him,” the host of CNN’s daily news show “The Lead” told Swisher.
His comments were reported by the news site Mediaite.
“We can’t pretend he’s not there, we can’t pretend he’s not leading in the polls for his party’s nomination,” Tapper, 54, said.
“We have to explain why, we have to talk about the issues that people find compelling.”
Tapper’s comments are at odds with others made previously by network stars such as Christiane Amanpour, who had words with former CEO Chris Licht over the town hall decision.
Tapper told Swisher: “Is a town hall where voters get to ask him questions, the moderator gets to ask follow-ups, is that in the public’s interest?
“I am of the opinion that it is.”
Tapper countered the assertion that the town hall functioned as a “rally” for Trump, emphasizing that the presence of his supporters in the studio audience, who enthusiastically cheered and applauded, does not define it as such.
He pointed out that the event featured Trump engaging in heated exchanges with Collins, indicating that it was not designed solely to boost Trump’s image or serve as a platform for his supporters.
“Well, that wasn’t a Trump rally, that was a group of, as we do for all of our town halls, Republican and Republican-leaning independents from that state, in this case New Hampshire,” Tapper said.
“Just as we’d do for [President] Joe Biden, it would be Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents for Iowa or South Carolina or wherever,” he added.
He also wondered why anyone would be “offended” by supporters of Trump clapping during the event.
“Oh, but they were behaving like this, they were behaving like that,” Tapper said, summarizing the criticism of those in attendance.
“The questions I would have, and I say this truly with all due respect, what are you offended by? The airing of it or the existence of it? … Is it the airing of it or the existence of those people?” he asked.