Jake Tapper defended CNN against President-elect Donald Trump’s accusation that the network produces “fake news.” The Old City/Main Line native said on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers that Trump was attempting to “delegitimize” the news organization at a press conference last week.
“He was obviously trying to get us to stop focusing on the story and to discredit all of us,” Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, told Meyers. “I’ve never seen the effort to delegitimize an organization for a story you don’t like, that has been proven. Every word of the story we reported last Tuesday has been proven correct.”
Trump last week accused CNN correspondent Jim Acosta of working for a “fake news” outlet at his first press conference as President-elect after the network reported on an unverified document presented to both Trump and President Obama by U.S. intelligence officials. Buzzfeed later published the entire 35-page dossier, which contained unconfirmed information that Russia allegedly planned to use to blackmail President-elect Trump.
Tapper said he disagreed with Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the allegations, calling the decision “irresponsible.”
“I thought it was irresponsible to put those uncorroborated rumors out there,” Tapper said. “That’s not reporting. That’s just publishing.”
Tapper also congratulated Meyers on getting the first comment on the report from a member of the Trump administration. Meyers interviewed Atco, N.J. native Kellyanne Conway about the allegations shortly after CNN broke the story last week. Conway, at the time, denied Trump knew about the situation.
“You explained it great. You had all the details perfectly right,” Tapper told Meyers. “I wish I could say the same about everyone else who followed us in our reporting, but you were exactly on target.”
Ultimately, however, Tapper indicated Monday that the press will have to work together to get answers in a Trump presidency. Otherwise, Tapper said, the rest of the press could find itself in Trump’s crosshairs.
“If you’re with an organization that’s not CNN, and you watch them destroy us, or try to destroy us, just because they don’t like the story, then you’re next,” Tapper said.