Jacob Paul Tapper (born March 12, 1969) is an American journalist, cartoonist, and author. As of 2016[update], Tapper is the Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN, anchor of the CNN weekday television news show The Lead with Jake Tapper, and anchor of the CNN and CNN International Sunday morning affairs program State of the Union.
Prior to joining CNN, Tapper worked for ABC News. The White House Correspondents' Association honored his work as Senior White House Correspondent with ABC News with three Merriman Smith Memorial Awards for broadcast journalism, an unprecedented three times in a row.
Tapper contributed to the coverage of the inauguration of President Obama that earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story. Tapper was part of a team that was awarded an Edward R. Murrow award for Video: Breaking News for "Target bin Laden: The Death of Public Enemy #1."
His book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor debuted at number 10 in November 2012 on The New York Times Bestseller list for hardback non-fiction. Tapper's book and his reporting on the veterans and troops were cited when the Congressional Medal of Honor Society awarded him the "Tex" McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism.
The Republican primary debate Tapper moderated in September 2015 drew more than 23 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in the history of CNN and the second-most watched primary debate ever. He also moderated the March 10, 2016 Republican presidential debate in Miami, which drew almost 12 million viewers and, according to Variety, "garnered acclaim for its substance".
Tapper was born in New York City and was raised in the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the son of Theodore S. "Ted" and Helen Anne (née Palmatier) Tapper. His mother, who is from Canada, retired as a psychiatric nurse at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His father, from Chicago, graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School, and went on to serve as the president of South Philadelphia Pediatrics and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Jefferson Medical College. His father was born to a Jewish family and his mother, who was raised Presbyterian, converted to Judaism.
Tapper was educated at Akiba Hebrew Academy, an independent Jewish day school formerly located in Merion, Pennsylvania, followed by Dartmouth College, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a B.A. in History, modified by Visual Studies. At Dartmouth, Tapper was a member of Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity. He briefly attended graduate school at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.
In 1992, Tapper served as a Campaign Press Secretary for Democratic congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (PA-13), and later served as her congressional press secretary. Tapper also worked for Powell Tate, a Washington, D.C., public relations firm run by Democrat Jody Powell and Republican Sheila Tate. Tapper also worked briefly for Handgun Control, Inc. (now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) in 1997.
Tapper wrote several articles as a freelance writer and then began his full-time journalism career in 1998; for two years, he was a Senior Writer for the Washington City Paper. While there, Tapper wrote an article about going on a date with Monica Lewinsky, which skewered Washington's culture of scandal. Tapper won a Society of Professional Journalists award for his work at the Washington City Paper.
Tapper was the Washington Correspondent for Salon.com from 1999 to 2002. Tapper's reports about Enron were nominated for a 2002 Columbia University School of Journalism online award, and he was an early questioner of the Bush administration's claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.
In 2001, Tapper was host of the CNN news talk show, Take Five. Tapper was also a columnist for TALK Magazine, and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Weekly Standard, and other publications. Tapper was a frequent contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered and his work was included in "The Best American Political Writing 2002." Tapper was the correspondent for a series of VH1 news specials in 2002.
ABC News hired Tapper in 2003. While there, Tapper covered a range of topics including from the ABC News Baghdad bureau, from New Orleans after the failure of the levees after Hurricane Katrina, and from Afghanistan. From March to July 2010, Tapper was interim anchor of ABC's This Week, hosting the program until Christiane Amanpour became This Week's anchor.
Tapper was named Senior White House Correspondent on November 5, 2008, the day after the 2008 presidential election. For an unprecedented three years in a row, the White House Correspondents' Association has awarded him the prestigious Merriman Smith Award for presidential coverage under deadline pressure. He was a key part of the ABC News coverage of the inauguration of President Obama that was awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story.
Tapper was passed over as a candidate to replace George Stephanopoulos as anchor of This Week when Stephanopoulos was chosen to replace Diane Sawyer as co-host of Good Morning America after she became the anchor of World News. CNN's Christiane Amanpour was selected as Stephanopoulos's replacement instead. Tapper served as the interim anchor until Amanpour took over the show on August 1, 2010. He was passed over again when Stephanopoulous decided he wanted to return to the position.
Tapper contributed regularly to Good Morning America, Nightline, and World News with Diane Sawyer. In addition to anchoring World News and Good Morning America weekend editions and Nightline, Tapper was a frequent substitute host of This Week and served as interim host for much of 2010, scoring the first TV interview with CIA director Leon Panetta, as well as exclusives with Vice President Biden, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, in addition to interviews with other newsmakers such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
As senior White House correspondent, Tapper interviewed President Obama several times. Prior to his assignment at the White House, Tapper was ABC News' national/senior political correspondent based in the network's Washington, D.C., bureau. He contributed a report to a broadcast of World News Tonight with Peter Jennings that won the 2005 Edward R. Murrow Award[disambiguation needed] for best network newscast. As ABC News' lead reporter covering the 2008 presidential election, he received recognition for both breaking stories and even-handedness. Traveling from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina and beyond, Tapper interviewed both Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as well as other White House hopefuls including former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
It was announced December 20, 2012, that Tapper would join CNN and would anchor a new weekday program and serve as the network's chief Washington correspondent. He began with CNN in January 2013, hosting his own program, The Lead with Jake Tapper. In 2014, Mediaite called The Lead the best show on cable news, writing "Tapper has quickly developed a reputation as an equal opportunity skeptic — confronting Democratic politicians just as toughly as he would Republican ones. He's among the most respected names in cable news, we’d argue; not because he's so affable, but because he reminds viewers what news delivery can be like without the shouting, battling, blasting, or slamming." Mediaite also named him the best cable news host. In a follow-up survey of cable news hosts, Tapper was also named the best cable news host on CNN.
The Lead with Jake Tapper won three National Headliner Awards for its reporting in 2013. Among broadcast television networks, cable networks and syndicators, The Lead with Jake Tapper won first prize for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and second prize for its coverage of the Oklahoma tornadoes in the category of "Coverage of a major news event." It won third prize for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing in the category of "Continuing coverage of a major news event." In June 2013, The New York Times' Allesandra Stanley wrote that "Jake Tapper, who this year became the host of 'The Lead' on CNN, has proved that it's possible to create an afternoon news show that is intelligent, nonideological and not horribly boring." In 2014, The Lead was honored for a series of reports on academic fraud at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by correspondent Sara Ganim with a Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award for Investigative Reporting.
On September 16, 2015, Tapper moderated two Republican primary debates from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The main debate drew an average of 23.1 million viewers, making it the most watched program in the history of CNN and the second most watched primary debate ever. He also moderated the March 10, 2016 Republican presidential debate in Miami, which drew almost 12 million viewers and according to Variety "garnered acclaim for its substance."
In June 2015, Tapper became host of CNN's Sunday political show, State of the Union with Jake Tapper. There, he has become known for challenging politicians of all stripes, including challenging Senator Bernie Sanders to release his tax returns; asking Jeb Bush why Hillary Clinton is responsible for Benghazi if his brother George W. Bush bears no responsibility for the terrorist attacks on 9/11; asking Hillary Clinton about the FBI investigation into her private email server; and asking Donald Trump if he would denounce support from white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and David Duke – referred to days later as "the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange" by Mitt Romney in his March 2016 speech condemning Trump.
Tapper has contributed to GQ, The Weekly Standard, NPR's All Things Considered, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. In 2001, he hosted the program Take Five on CNN, in which young journalists and commentators discussed politics and pop culture. In 2002, he hosted a series of entertainment news specials on VH1, and in 2003 he hosted shows focused on independent film on the Sundance Channel. Tapper has also been a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Colbert Report, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Conan, The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, and appeared on the Judge John Hodgman podcast as guest bailiff, standing in for regular bailiff Jesse Thorn during the August 31, 2011 episode entitled "De Plane".
Tapper is the author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, a critically acclaimed book about U.S. troops in Afghanistan that debuted at number 10 on The New York Times bestseller list for hardback non-fiction. Bob Woodward described the book as: "Brilliant, dedicated reporting by a journalist who goes to ground to get the truth. A sad, real tale about this war, America and the brave warriors who live—and die—at the point of the spear" and Jon Krakauer called it "a mind-boggling, all-too-true story of heroism, hubris, failed strategy, and heartbreaking sacrifice. If you want to understand how the war in Afghanistan went off the rails, you need to read this book." In 2014, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society recognized Tapper for the book and his reporting on military topics in general with the Tex McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism.
In addition to The Outpost, Tapper is the author of Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency, based on the 2000 Presidential election, that The Washington Post called "lively", the Chicago Tribune "a churning effusion well worth reading" and The Daily Telegraph "engrossing". He also wrote Body Slam: The Jesse Ventura Story (St. Martin's Press) that was excerpted by The Washington Post Magazine.
His comic strip Capitol Hell appeared in Roll Call from 1994 to 2003. He has also contributed cartoons to The American Spectator magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. During the week of May 23, 2016, Tapper guest illustrated the Dilbert cartoon. The original drawings were auctioned online to raise money for the Homes for our Troops Foundation.
As the Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News, Tapper was honored with three Merriman Smith Memorial Awards for broadcast journalism. The first Merriman Smith Memorial Award was for reporting noncompliance of laws regulating tax reporting by the Secretary nominee Department of Health and Human Services secretary nominee and former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), troubles that ultimately derailed Daschle's nomination. The second was for the 2010 story that President Obama had asked for the resignation of his Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair (retired). The third time was for breaking the 2011 story that the ratings agency Standard and Poor's was expected to downgrade the AAA rating for U.S. government debt.
On July 6, 2009, former MSNBC television personality (and current ABC legal analyst) Dan Abrams launched a website service, Mediaite, reporting on media figures, ranking all TV-based journalists in America by influence; at December 2010, Tapper ranked at number one.
In 2016, The Lead was honored with two National Headliner Awards: Best Newscast (Broadcast television networks, cable networks and syndicators) and Best Coverage of a Major News Event (Broadcast television networks, cable networks and syndicators newscast) for the show's coverage of the November 2015 Paris attacks.
In March 2017, the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced that Tapper would receive a Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism for "his fearless advocacy for the truth throughout the election cycle. Jurors said his interviewing 'relentlessness' held officials to account and equipped voters with valuable information about the candidates. Forceful when necessary, refusing to let candidates slip away from important questions, he was praised for "his tenacious commitment to sorting fact from fiction, a quality essential to journalism."
Additionally, the Los Angeles Press Club announced that same month that Tapper would receive its 2017 Presidents Awardee for Impact on Media. “During a divisive election, Jake Tapper was willing to take on politicians from both sides of the aisle," the Press Club president said. "His effective interview style cuts to the core. He is willing to ask the tough questions, listen carefully and then follow up with precisely the right response to get to the heart of the matter."
In 2006, Tapper married Jennifer Marie Brown in her home state of Missouri. They reside in Washington, D.C., with their two children. He practices Judaism.
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