ABC's Tapper Bows To Old Salon.com Employers, Publicizes Allen 'Nigger' Charges

ABC hired reporter Jake Tapper from the partisan left-wing website Salon.com in 2001. On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges "by at least five" accusers that conservative Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger"  in his college days at the University of Virginia. (He made no mention of the old signers of his paycheck.) Tapper let Allen deny it, but Allen's accusers weren't rebutted by Allen's first wife or college teammates. Mimicking all the other liberal reporters, Tapper recounted it as part of a weeks-long narrative about racial and ethnic gaffes, and professed that the best Republicans "can hope for is that he survives this November's election."

Charles Gibson introduced the story: "There's a Senate race we want to look at tonight, the race in Virginia where Senator George Allen was thought to be a shoo-in for re-election. But he's made a series of gaffes that are giving him serious trouble. Here's ABC's chief national correspondent Jake Tapper."

Tapper started with the usual tap-dance, focusing not on whether the charges are true, whether they have any substance, or whether this is a viciously negative charge being generated by the Democratic Party. Instead, the focus is on Allen's campaign struggling with constant setbacks, without acknowledging the media that's working so hard to set him back. It's like a bully knocking a child down and kneeling on his chest with all his weight, then narrating it all as if he's not the one kneeling on you:

Tapper: "Senator George Allen has had to spend the week denying reports that he regularly used the 'N' word to describe African-Americans."

Senator George Allen (R-VA): "It's totally false."

Tapper: "Charges made by at least five Allen acquaintances, including North Carolina radiologist Dr. Ken Shelton, a former college football teammate of Allen's in the 1970s."

Dr. Ken Shelton, Radiologist: "George Allen did use the 'N' word to describe blacks frequently."

Tapper: "Civil rights leaders have expressed outrage."

Roger Wilkins, Civil Rights Leader: "The whole thing raises an issue about how open a human heart he has."

Tapper did not acknowledge that Shelton has been a registered Democrat, as are most of the accusers that keep turning up. Tapper failed to rebut Shelton with Allen's first wife or college teammates. Wilkins is not a leader of any civil rights group, but a far-left professor with stints in Lyndon Johnson's administration, then at the Washington Post and the New York Times. At the very least, for a few seconds, Tapper acknowledged Allen's opponent:

Tapper: "But Allen's Democratic opponent, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, facing no such allegations of his own, seemed to provide Allen with something of a defense."

Jim Webb, Virginia Democratic Senate Candidate: "I don't think that there's anyone who grew up around the South that hasn't had the word pass through their lips at one time in their life."

But Tapper did not note that Webb acknowledged using the N-word repeatedly in his novel "Fields of Fire," or mention the fact that Webb's blogging staffers have been promoting the "nigger" story on the Internet, so the idea that might be planted here, that Webb's being gentlemanly on this story, is bizarre. Then Tapper returned to recycling all the old liberal gotcha scenes:

Tapper: "For weeks, Allen has faced tough questions about his sensitivity on racial matters. It began at this campaign stop, where Allen singled out an Indian-American Democratic operative, calling him 'Macaca.'"

Allen: "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here."

Tapper: "Allen claimed 'Macaca' was a mere nonsense word, though others call it an ethnic slur. Last week, Allen bristled when a reporter asked about his mother's Jewish roots, which critics said Allen seemed to have been trying to hide."

Allen: "Why is that relevant?"

Tapper: "The next day, Allen said he was proud of his heritage."

Prof. Mark Rozell, George Mason University: "When you have a campaign that's on the defensive all the time, as is the case with George Allen, there is no possibility of getting a positive, constructive message out there for the voters to respond to."

Tapper: "Some Republicans had hoped Allen would run for President in 2008. Right now, it seems the best they can hope for is that he survives this November's election. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington."

In his quick and dirty piece, Tapper also failed to acknowledge that Allen bristled at questions about his Jewish ancestors because it came from the same local reporter that had earlier in the debate hounded him about the "Macaca" comment, and failed to note the audience applauded Allen when he professed amazement that the question had anything to do with the issues before the people of Virginia.  

The story might remind viewers to reread Tapper's book on the 2000 presidential campaign, "Down and Dirty." On page 11, he decried George W. Bush and "his Bob Jones University-visiting, Confederate flag-waving, itchy-death-row-trigger-finger-wiggling, South Carolina-racist-pandering cracker Texas ass." This story seemed like a return to his old liberal and partisan Salon.com form.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis