OPINION: Why Jake Tapper is More Honorable and More Reliable than Sean Hannity, Despite the Ratings
A Wikipedia search on Tapper and Hannity Reveals Why Great Disparities Exist Between CNN and Fox
As someone who has been following the mass media’s coverage of the current White House administration and the impeachment hearings, I decided to check out the Wikipedia sites of two very popular TV hosts who have opposing views: Fox’s Sean Hannity and CNN’s Jake Tapper.
First off, Hannity’s Wikipedia site is at least double the size of Tapper’s, mostly because Hannity has a large section titled “political commentary, controversies, and criticism” and Tapper does not have any similar section on his Wikipedia site.
Unscrupulous vs Scrupulous Journalism
After combing through both, it was very easy to decide that Hannity is truly an unscrupulous broadcaster with no real journalism skills, while Tapper is quite the contrary with a very strong, influential, and impressive award-winning journalism background.
However, if you research the ratings, Hannity continues to out flank Tapper in number of viewers and popularity by a very wide margin. A recent ratings review by Adweek’s TVNewser, for instance, shows Hannity ranked number one while Tapper languished in the 36th spot. Yikes!
This tells me that many TV viewers are willfully blind, unless a great deal of them are watching Hannity to see what the enemy is doing.
I feel this way because, if you look closely at the substance of Hannity’s vs Tapper’s careers, it’s very obvious to see that Tapper is exceedingly more experienced in covering the news based on facts than Hannity, who has an historic proclivity to hand-pick fully un-proven points of view and scream them out at his viewers.
Now please let me count the ways in which Tapper is a more reliable source than Hannity, as exposed, in part, on a variety of Wikipedia-based resources and other websites.
Case in point #1 (Education) — Hannity is a college drop out. Tapper is a magna cum laude history major graduate of Dartmouth, a private Ivy League research university with an 11% acceptance rate. I should just leave it at that, but I won’t. Their educational experiences alone say a lot, unless you are anti higher education, as the House Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), a Baylor University Law School graduate, seems to represent. Gohmert recently said, “if you love America, mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to go to Harvard or Stanford law school.” OK, Mr. Gohmert.
Dartmouth is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Tapper was also awarded an honorary degree from UMass Amherst, the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system.
The Evangelical Motif
Hannity has been awarded an honorary degree from Liberty University, an evangelical Christian university founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell (that Moral Majority guy) and now run by his son Jerry Falwell, Jr.
As noted on the senior Falwell’s Wikipedia page, “After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Falwell said on Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club, ‘I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.’”
As noted on the Falwell Jr.’s Wikipedia page, “Under Falwell Jr., Liberty University has come under scrutiny for its authoritarian control over employees and students, its nepotism toward family-owned businesses in the school’s investments, and for the increasing influence of Falwell’s wife Becki in school affairs.”
Case in Point #2 (life and career) — I can respect Hannity’s humble beginnings when compared to Tapper’s more privileged upbringing. But the two diverge dramatically once they pursued their broadcasting careers.
Here’s a highly synthesized version of Hannity’s career growth taken from Wikipedia:
At the ripe age of 21, Hannity started a house-painting business and then later became a building contractor. In his late twenties, he hosted his first radio talk show as a student on the volunteer station at UC Santa Barbara. That show was cancelled by the University after less than a year and resulted in an ACLU case that successfully argued Hannity’s First Amendment rights were discriminated against.
Why was his show cancelled in the first place? As noted on Wikipedia, it followed “two shows in which gay and lesbian rights were discussed in what was considered to be a contentious manner.” (I guess one can surmise that was the start of an overwhelmingly contentious career.)
From that incident Hannity promoted himself as “the most talked about college radio host in America,” which landed him a job at radio station WVNN in Athens, Alabama. From there he wound up at WGST in Atlanta and later at Fox Television.
In 1996, at the age of 35 Hannity left WGST for WABC in New York. That gig ultimately led to large-scale national syndication in 2001 along with eventually leading to a $100 million contract with Citadel Communications (formerly ABC radio). He also garnered millions of listeners and some of the highest rankings among radio hosts. His Fox TV gig also led to national conservative-leaning accolades over the years. In short, Hannity’s radio and TV career pursuits reached super-sized success that cannot be ignored, and he did it without any real formal education or solid journalistic experiences. In my opinion, he became an influential broadcaster due primarily to his proclivity to be controversial.
He also achieved success in real estate, listed as of April 2018 to own 877 residential properties.
The list of controversies he has stoked over the years is impressive, but only from a quantitative perspective. The following is a partial list. They include birtherism, numerous false accusations about Hillary Clinton, false claims about electron fraud, vacillating from criticism of Wikileaks to high praise after leaked emails came out, unfounded criticisms of the FBI and the Mueller probe, numerous claims that a deep state exists to hinder the Trump administration, professing that climate change is a “phony science from the left,” promoting that the Affordable Care Act would create so-called “death panels,” and (not surprisingly when you look at his history) repeating out-of-context comments that spin a negative view of Tapper.
A Differing POV
Tapper’s trajectory is much different, and, in my opinion, certainly more respectful. His first job, after graduating from Dartmouth, was as a campaign press secretary for Democratic congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who was later caught up in a criminal campaign scandal. That’s about the only controversial thing on Tapper’s resume.
He started his news career as a freelance journalist, and in 1998 was hired by the Washington City Paper as a senior writer, where he worked for two years. He won a Society of Professional Journalists award for his work there.
Tapper was also the Washington Correspondent for Salon.com from 1999 to 2002, and he was nominated for a Columbia University School of Journalism online award for his work with Salon related to reporting on the Enron scandal.
In 2008, after serving as a writer and/or columnist for numerous national publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Weekly Standard, and NPR, among others, Tapper was named Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News, where he was awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story. Additionally, the White House Correspondents’ Association awarded him the Merriman Smith Memorial Award for presidential coverage under deadline pressure.
In 2013, Tapper launched “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on CNN, and in 2015 “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.” More awards followed, including the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association, and The Los Angeles Press Club Award for Impact on Media.
For the sake of brevity, there are several more journalism-related awards Tapper garnered over his impressive career that have not been included here.
Based on this information from Wikipedia, I cannot understand how anyone could see Hannity as a more reliable source of information than Tapper. And this feeling stretches into everything else that is going on today with the current White House administration and the GOP. I don’t understand how Trumpians can believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a pathological liar. I don’t understand how the GOP can avoid facts.
Such feelings, however, were altered after I read “The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others,” by Tali Sharot, a British neuroscientist. After numerous surveys and experiments, Sharot discovered that it is almost impossible to change peoples’ minds, even intelligent peoples’ minds.
“The greater your cognitive capacity,” she wrote, “the greater your ability to rationalize and interpret information at will, and to creatively twist data to fit your opinions. Ironically, then, people may use their intelligence not to draw more accurate conclusions but to find fault in data they are unhappy with. This is why, when arguing with others, our instinct for offering facts and figures that support our view and contradict theirs may not be the optimal approach. Even if the person in front of you is highly intelligent, you may find it difficult to change their mind with counterevidence.”
And that, my friends, is where we are at today, as evidenced in the opposite personas of Hannity and Tapper.