Jake Tapper's New CNN Show: 'We're Going to Take Risks'
CNN continues its revamp Monday with the premiere of "The Lead," airing at 4 p.m. The show, hosted by former ABC White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, will serve as the foothold for the network's evening programming.
Tapper made his name challenging the White House at press briefings and on all of ABC's platforms, including his blog "Political Punch" and guest hosting duties on "This Week." He recently made the jump to CNN to be their chief Washington correspondent, as part of the network's attempted revitalization.
But despite his background, the show isn't merely a political show. Tapper advertises a broad spectrum of pop culture. For example, Monday's premiere will have political guests, like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but Stephen Colbert and Lebron James also make appearances.
Tuesday brings Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Nate Silver. Silver, a New York Times blogger and author of the recent book The Signal and the Noise, is scheduled to talk NCAA March Madness brackets. Wednesday has Speaker John Boehner on the docket.
CNN has a steep climb if they want a shot at Fox News when it comes to ratings, but new CNN president Jeff Zucker is making some daring changes in programming. CNN is also looking to change its morning program, as Soledad O'Brien moves to her production company.
Last week, Tapper was Hotline's Friday Feature, which appears weekly in the Media Monitor section. Here's the Q&A:
Where's your hometown?
Born in New York City, but raised in Philadelphia and I'm Philly through and through.
What were you like in high school?
The student body president who pissed off all the teachers with his wise-assery and rebellious questions.
Favorite interview you've done?
That's tough. I guess the ones where I laughed the most are the ones I look back at most fondly – so Larry David, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Stephen Colbert. (The latter of which will air on my debut show this Monday.)
What does downtime look like to you?
Playing Tickle Monster with my kids.
What brought you to CNN?
A leadership team that believed in me and made a compelling case, and my own show where I'll get to try something new and exciting with an amazing staff.
Tell me a little bit on what made you write The Outpost? Are you going to have a follow-up book?
I was holding my newborn son in the hospital when out of the corner of my eye I saw a TV news report about an outpost I'd never heard of in an incredibly vulnerable location being over-run by Taliban. The 53 US troops there were facing up to 400 Taliban, all of whom had the high ground. There was just something poignant in the moment, holding my son hearing about eight other sons, eight US troops, taken from this earth. I can't really explain it except to say the moment set me on a course to find out who those eight men were, what it was like to face that horrific threat that day, and why that outpost was put in that location.
As for a follow-up, I'm pretty focused right now on "The Lead." Maybe some day another book, but it would have to be a subject matter that really grabbed me the way The Outpost did.
Who do you look up to as a journalist?
Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer were the anchors at ABC News when I started there in 2003 and I'll always think of them as my Mount Rushmore, for vastly different reasons.
For those who don't know, you're starting a show on CNN on Monday. What are you looking forward to most about the show and why should people tune in at 4 p.m.
We're going to take risks and try something new, which is exciting but also nerve-wracking and also why people should watch.
Who is a current newsperson that you'd like to bring over to CNN if you had omnipotence?
Edward R. Murrow. (You said omnipotence, so I ignored the "current" part.)
How is a CNN newsroom different from an ABC one?
They're not hugely different, it's more that CNN has 24 hours to fill each day, and ABC News has three, so the demands and the pace of the day are different.
What's the best newsroom meal?
One eaten out of the newsroom.
Most underreported story currently going on right now?
A tie between poverty and the public health crisis we're having with our veterans.
What's your guilty pleasure TV and last good movie you saw?
I have a wife, a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I haven't had control of the remote since 2009 and the last movie I saw was Barbie's Mermaid Adventure.
If you weren't working as a journalist, what would you be doing?
Annoying people at my local bar by talking authoritatively about current events.
In one sentence, your best advice to young, fresh-out-of-college journalists?
No one will give you a job to be nice, so have something they want, whether drive, ambition, scoops, or excellence.
Finish this sentence, today I ...
did a fake practice show about the new Pope.