Jake Tapper joined CNN from ABC News with such pomp and circumstance that all that was missing was an image of a white knight riding into a ghost town on a horse.
That’s more a reflection about how downtrodden CNN seemed to be than of Tapper’s mystique.
Yes, at ABC News, Tapper was a well regarded, hard-working, social media-savvy journalist. But was he in the same self-promoting league as, say, Sam Donaldson, for better or worse? No, of course not (then again, who was?). Tapper was more of a mere mortal who did a good job. than someone who could be a first-round inductee into the media’s mythical Preening Hall of Fame.
Tapper was wooed to CNN as part of new leader Jeff Zucker’s plan to inject some sorely needed pizzazz into the network, which had grown hopelessly stale and predictable. People tended to watch CNN in sizable numbers only when they felt they had to watch the news, that is, when a natural disaster or a presidential debate (same thing, no?) was taking place somewhere.
But in mundane times, CNN struggled for the viewers who preferred the ultra-left MSNBC or the heavily right Fox News Channel.
I’m not sold on the concept that Tapper can individually lift all CNN boats. Probably, he is more of a piece in the Zucker puzzle, maybe a big one, maybe not. Zucker will likely field what he regards as an exciting cast of journalists and let the law of natural selection command the day. Whoever can draw the best ratings will eventually get the plum assignments or the best time slots.
It will be interesting to see how well Tapper adjusts to CNN — and vice versa.