THE 'ENEMY'

Jake Tapper on ‘Daily Show’: CNN’s ‘Kicking Ass’ and Doesn’t Need Access to Trump

The CNN host told Trevor Noah he’s not on board with the narrative about Donald Trump’s ‘presidential’ pivot.

03.02.17 5:11 AM ET

The night after most of the mainstream media declared Donald Trump more “presidential” than ever before following his first address to Congress, CNN’s resident truth-teller Jake Tapper stopped by The Daily Show to offer up his assessment of what has been called a “pivot.”

After Noah welcomed “the face of fake news” to his show, Tapper shot back, “That bothers you because you’re the face of fake news.” Asked how it feels to be labeled the “enemy of the American people” by the president of the United States, Tapper said, “Well, calling us the enemy of the people is just nuts. I mean, we’re the media. We’re the Fourth Estate. We have a tradition of being one of the watchdogs over people in power. I think he is hostile to any check or balance.”

While “fake news” is a real problem, as we learned during the election, Tapper said Trump’s White House has used the term to describe any “stories they don’t like.”

Moving on to Trump’s speech to Congress, Tapper got applause for stressing that he did not call it a “pivot.” On The Lead earlier Wednesday afternoon, Tapper said that while Trump’s prepared remarks about putting “trivial fights behind us” sounded perfectly reasonable, they “cannot erase extemporaneous words and deeds, thousands of them, that have run contrary to those aspirations.”

“It was a fine speech and a decent performance,” Tapper told Noah Wednesday night. “The policies and the positions that he holds are as, if not more, important, I think. And the fact is that some of the things he has said and done have been completely contrary to the ideals and aspirations that he voiced in the speech.”

While Trump opened his speech by “wholeheartedly” condemning recent hate-crime incidents in the country, Tapper said it was “a little late in coming.” He reminded Noah that it was “literally a year ago yesterday” that he tried and failed to get Trump to distance himself from former KKK leader David Duke.

“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump said to Tapper last February. “So I don’t know. I don’t know—did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

“It’s really, honestly the easiest question in politics, ‘Will you condemn the Ku Klux Klan?’” Tapper told Noah.

Tapper also addressed his now-infamous deadpan expressions that he somehow manages to maintain while interviewing people like Kellyanne Conway. “Well, first of all, on the face thing, a lot of Botox,” he joked.

“The truth of the matter is that it’s not partisan to want facts and the truth,” Tapper added. “And it’s not partisan to expect decency from people, and especially our leaders.” And if that means that CNN loses access to members of the Trump administration then so be it, he said.

“The idea that we need to have them come on our shows and that we should calibrate our coverage, that’s from a bygone era,” Tapper said. “CNN is kicking ass. We are covering him fairly and aggressively. We are breaking stories about the investigations into him and his campaign. We don’t need access to them. If they don’t want to come on our show, they are giving up air time and an audience that wants to hear from them. But that’s on them.”