Spin Cycle

07.01.12

Jake Tapper, ABC's Senior White House Correspondent, Challenges the Spin

Juggling roles at White House and at home (can journalists really have it all?), the ABC correspondent weighs in on Obamacare, the administration's secretiveness, and that Atlantic article.

Jake Tapper isn’t buying the notion that the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare is actually a political setback for the president.

“I know conservatives and Republicans are trying to spin this as, well, now we have this issue to talk about,” ABC’s senior White House correspondent tells me in a video interview. “It’s true, it’s still not a popular law, but it’s also true that Mitt Romney is a very flawed carrier of the anti-Obamacare banner because he signed into law a very similar law—including one that contains the tax, the fine, that Republicans are now talking so much about.”

Video screenshot

As for CNN and Fox News botching the initial reporting of the ruling, Tapper says: “It’s embarrassing. We all make mistakes. It’s the pressure to be first with the news.”

I met up with him, on a 104-degree day in Washington, in the closet-size cubicle he occupies in the White House pressroom—separated from the rest of the executive mansion.

“It’s tough to get information out of this administration,” says Tapper, who often engages in verbal combat with spokesman Jay Carney. “You’re cordoned off from the rest. You can’t go to speak to spokespeople even for national security.”

The city is still buzzing over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article about quitting her high-level administration job to spend more time with her teenage sons. I asked how he juggles work and his two young kids, and he began by saying he stops at home after his Good Morning America hits to see them off to school.

His wife, says Tapper, “does most of the child-rearing. I wish it were not so. But she does do most of it because I’m here, I’m working.

“It’s tough to get information out of this administration.”

“Society still ultimately, however evolved we are, and I consider myself a feminist…we still adhere to fairly traditional child-rearing tasks.

I try to help out  as much as I can. When I’m there on the weekends, I try to be there 100 percent, but the burden does fall on her.”

And with that, he turned and walked through the thick haze back to his cubicle.