CNN’s Jake Tapper discusses Israel war and new book at U-M Ann Arbor

CNN anchor and author Jake Tapper speaks at the University of Michigan on Nov. 3, 2023. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Ann Arbor, Mich. — CNN Anchor Jake Tapper was the featured speaker on Friday afternoon at the University of Michigan’s Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor. The moderator was Lynette Clemetson, Director of U-M’s Wallace House Center for Journalists. It was part of the university’s “Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press” series of speakers.

Tapper is the lead Washington journalist hosting his own program “The Lead with Jake Tapper” and on Sunday, he is host of the political show called “State of the Union with Jake Tapper.”  He announced that he just came back from the Middle East on Wednesday.

The cable TV news anchor mentioned that it is difficult to describe some of the awful stories and the suffering going on in the Middle East.  “You didn’t see a lot of it and I’m not belittling the suffering.  Please don’t say it is not horrific.  All wars are horrible,” says Tapper.

“During the time I was there, we knew of an explosion, but we don’t know what’s happening.  One side or the other is claiming they know more than the other, or saying things that are not true.  That’s challenging.  This is what they are claiming but we don’t know if it’s true.  The conflict is overwhelming.”  He was asked if you’re going back?  Tapper responded “I don’t know.”

“I’m on a non-stop barrage of ‘I’m on the wrong side of everything.’  There’s a lot of people that criticize me, not even paying for cable.  I’m trying to be the most human I can be.”

“Since reporting on Lewiston, Maine, we found out that the shooter had been voluntarily committed.  It has become clear that Congress might take some action on guns.  Maybe Congress will look into it. They might be willing to act. There are red flag laws or yellow flag laws.”  Hopefully something can be done.

Tapper was asked, what made you go into Journalism?  “I didn’t know what I wanted to do in College.  I did not become a full-time journalist until I was 29.  Give yourself a break; you don’t have to know everything right now.  I was on a ski trip with friends, then a light bulb went off in my head.  I started writing articles.  I had a notebook at all times, writing ideas.  I eventually wrote for Washington City Papers.

“Rejection is a big part of being an adult.  I didn’t know that ever.  In the real world, people say no, no, no.  Nobody really rejected me before.  All of a sudden, my life was full of rejection.  I just want you to be prepared for that.  This new generation is very hard on themselves.  It’s gonna be fine.  It’s tough, but you’re gonna be ok.  I just want you to know that.  Just remember this moment.”

Sitting at home during Covid, Tapper also talked about the two books he wrote.  One was a political thriller called “The Hellfire Club” about corruption and conspiracy of a Congressman in the 1950’s.  The other is “The Devil May Dance”, a sequel to the first book, set in the 1970’s.

“CNN makes sure all information is as factual as possible.  No matter what we report, people are going to say things.  We acknowledge pain as it exists.  Democracy is in peril now.  The threat of violence is now a part of life.  This is a real danger.  Lots of Republicans retired because of this threat to their families.  We have an obligation as people to not lower ourselves to that kind of behavior.  It’s ok to disagree without name calling.  If democracy goes out the window, there is nothing.  Most countries are not democratic.  Some had democracy but do not now.  Democracy at the ballot box is sacred.  Democracy is fragile.  I think we take it for granted.  There needs to be civic awareness,” added Tapper.  “What Donald Trump has done to undermine democracy has caused death threats to journalists.  If you are a woman or person of color, it’s even worse.”

At the conclusion of the one hour and 40 minute presentation, there was a book signing in the Michigan Room.  Tapper’s newly released book, “All the Demons Are Here” was available for purchase at the event.

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