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Jake Tapper Gets Unfairly Pilloried for Obama 'Muslim Roots' Article

4 years ago
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Media Matters, Gawker, and DailyKos, to name just a few, are out for blood -- Jake Tapper-flavored, Venti, please. Why the outrage? Here's what Gawker says:
ABC News' Jake Tapper, seemingly bored silly on a flight to Riyadh, or maybe just experimenting to see how many links he could get from wingnut websites, published perhaps the most imbecilic article in the history of journalism on ABC.com.

With a title, "The Emergence of President Obama's Muslim Roots," that just pathetically screams "please link to me Matt Drudge," Tapper regurgitates a slew of widely known facts about Obama's family's Muslim faith, slaps a provocative title on the piece, and repackages the whole thing as some sort of breaking news story in conjunction with Obama's trip to the Middle East.
Wow, that's pretty harsh. I went into reading Jake's piece wondering if he'd gotten into the absinthe at the duty-free shop, started licking toads, and let it all flow into his keyboard. Here's what I found:
Nothing. It's as if these frothing villagers hadn't even read the article. While Tapper, over the course of the piece, does lay out widely known facts about President Obama's Muslim roots, here are some of the things they missed:

The very thesis of the article is that the president is now almost bragging about these innocuous connections, while he downplayed them during the campaign. All 100 percent true, but look how Jake casts this shift:
Given widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps understandably very sensitive during the primaries and general election to downplay the candidate's Muslim roots.

...With insane rumors suggesting he was some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and his campaign did everything they could to emphasize his Christianity and de-emphasize the fact that his father, Barack Obama Sr., was born Muslim.
Yes, calling the rumors "insane" is sure to stoke them.

What makes this attack so unfair is the lengths to which Tapper goes to benevolently explain the shift.

The left is predisposed to scrutinizing Tapper, especially since Rush Limbaugh singled him out as his favorite White House reporter. This isn't the first time prominent liberal blogs have tarred Tapper unfairly as a right-wing tool. I've agreed with Jake in the past, and disagreed, but you can't question a guy's objectivity just because you disagree with him. There is no merit to this attack.

If there's any issue to be taken at all, it might be with the headline. Rather than "emerging," you could describe the president's Muslim roots as "being emphasized now, rather than de-emphasized as they were before," but that ain't exactly a grabber. I give it a pass.

There is one fact in the Gawker article that makes me like Jake even more, if it's true:
(Tapper), at the beginning of his career, reportedly handed a Salon reporter a wad of his chewed gum, telling her it would be "worth something someday."
Man, if he didn't do that, I'm gonna. That's funny.

Update: Damn, according to Jake, the gum story isn't true. Well, at least now, I can have people re-tell the story with me doling out the gum.
Tommy on: Daily Dose:

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