Jake Tapper has shown himself to be one of the more responsible journalists when it comes to prioritizing the truth over balance in his reporting. For example, here is his response to Republicans who have suggested that Democrats were mourning the death of Soleimani.
Recently Tapper made an important point about how disinformation campaigns don’t always originate with foreign adversaries.
“While we are all bracing for what the Iranians might to do to us as this conflict escalates, let’s not lose sight of what Americans are already doing to each other,” says @JakeTapper about misleading and false information being spread on social media. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/EwWfEKNLQ0
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 5, 2020
As I have already noted, it wasn’t just Russia that launched a disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton in order to influence the 2016 election. Peter Schweizer, with an assist from mainstream media, spread a smear against the former secretary of state that was demonstrably false.
But I have to take issue with how Tapper framed his concern. Notice the examples he gave of people who spread knowingly false information. They included:
- Bob Salera, Deputy Communications Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, who tweeted a doctored video of a Biden speech, referring to the former vice president as a “white nationalist.”
- Tony Shaffer, a member of Trump’s 2020 advisory board, who tweeted a doctored video that makes Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to be intoxicated.
- Donald Trump, who tweeted a video of Rep. Ilhan Omar dancing, along with the lie that it was filmed on 9/11.
- The White House press secretary, who tweeted a doctored video of a Trump press conference, suggesting that a reporter had rough-housed a staff member.
It strikes me that all four of those examples have one important thing in common: they came from Republicans. Yet, during his commentary, Tapper blames this kind of disinformation on “folks in the political world” and ends by cautioning us not to lose sight of “what Americans are doing to each other.” In an apparent nod to balance, he failed to tell the truth, which is that we shouldn’t lose sight of what Republicans are doing to our political discourse.
I believe that this is an example of how ingrained the whole idea of bothsiderism has become for almost everyone in the mainstream media. It runs so deep that even Jake Tapper feels the need to hedge his bets when it comes to naming the source of domestic disinformation campaigns. Republicans will continue to exploit that opening as long as journalists fail to hold them accountable.