Controversy Ahead: Jake Tapper's Role in Moderating Presidential Debate Under Scrutiny

CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the first presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. The role is typically meant to be a neutral custodian of the conversation between the participants, but Tapper's long history of harshly criticizing Trump while on the air raises questions about his ability to remain even-handed.

Trump and Biden agreed to participate in two debates yesterday through a series of social media posts. The CNN debate is scheduled for June 27, while ABC News will hold a second debate on September 10. The debate will take place in Atlanta, Ga., and will not include a live audience. While the network has long been regarded as generally left-leaning, Tapper's particular history of covering Trump has been notably critical.

In late October 2020, Tapper went on a lengthy diatribe linking Trump to an array of conservative media outlets and politicians, suggesting he had run a superlatively negative campaign. He pointed out that Trump and his allies in the media and members of his family and Trump-allied websites were leveling with charges so heinous I'm not even going to say them.

Earlier that month, Trump checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following his diagnosis with COVID-19. Tapper, who had long criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, signaled that Trump’s disregard for pandemic guidelines had resulted in the diagnosis and that both Trump and his staffers had potentially spread the disease to many others.

Not all of Tapper’s coverage of Trump has been blindly critical. In August of last year, Tapper conceded in a roundtable on “The Lead” that the former president had been right to claim that Hunter Biden had received money from China during the 2020 debates. "Trump was right. I mean, he did make a fortune from China, and Joe Biden was wrong," Tapper said. "I don't know that he was lying about it. He might not have been told by Hunter. But this blind spot is a problem."

During the exchange, Tapper highlighted a fact-check from the Washington Post that pointed to Hunter Biden’s own admission of receiving funds from China. This directly goes against what Joe Biden said in the 2020 debate with Donald Trump."


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