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CNN’s Jake Tapper On The Non-Travel Ban From West Africa

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CNN’s Jake Tapper opened the show today.




HH: I begin with The Lead’s host, Jake Tapper, from CNN. Hello, Jake, how are you?

JT: Good, Hugh, how are you doing?

HH: I’m good, but I have to begin with a major complaint about bias on the CNN The Lead.

JT: Okay.

HH: Are you ready for this?

JT: I’m ready.

HH: In the last five days, I do not believe that you have covered that Brian Hoyer led the Cleveland Browns in the greatest away comeback in NFL history. That was the most that any team has ever come from behind in the history of the NFL, and it has not been on the Sports Lead.

JT: You know, I plead guilty to that bias. I’m not even, you know, you’re going to have to get Brent Bozell to write a column on it.

HH: (laughing) Okay, I’ll do that.

JT: I completely fess up. I completely fess up.

HH: You’re anti-Browns.

JT: The Eagles are 4-1, but it is an ugly 4-1.

HH: It’s a very ugly 4-1, but you watch those Browns. All right, to the serious stuff, there is a study out, and the Mail Online yesterday covered it. 6,000 people a week come from the hot zone in Africa to the United States.

JT: Yes.

HH: And they trace travel patterns all over the world. And they came to the conclusion there’s a 50% chance of a traveler carrying the disease to the UK by October 24th, a 75% chance it will get to France by the same date, Belgium, 40%. The U.S. is pretty high on this list as well. Jake Tapper, how much have you been talking about travel bans, because this seems to me to be not well thought through public policy?

JT: Well, as you know, I don’t take positions on whether or a ban should be imposed. But I’ll say this. The CDC walks a line between trying to get the government and the health apparatus, rather, prepared and ready while also not causing panic. And I think we’re at a point right now where it seems obvious that a lot of hospitals do not know what to do when somebody with Ebola-like symptoms comes into their hospital. And I think it’s also obvious, I was talking to a doctor today who had just gotten off the phone. This is a guy who’s a specialist in infectious diseases. He had just gotten off the phone with an emergency medical department in a major city, and the fire chief didn’t know what to do. What are they supposed to do after they pick up somebody who has Ebola-like symptoms? What are they supposed to do with their vehicle? How are they supposed to treat it? And at this stage of the game, those questions are still out there. So I think there are a lot of questions, and this same infectious disease specialist told me about, and this is somebody who goes into the hot zones. He told me about being in Nigeria, being checked at the airport twice, flying into, for a fever, flying into Germany, being checked at the airport, flies into Dulles, nothing, no checks, zero. And you know, the United States can feel, we can act as though we are our own little island, but we’re not. And we need to take precautions.

HH: And the study by Professor Alessandro Vespignani of Northeastern University, he’s very credible, and it’s just based on airline traffic, but are you surprised by that number, that 6,000 people from West Africa come to the United States every week?

JT: No, I’m not surprised at all. There’s a tremendous amount of commerce, and a tremendous amount of, I mean, you look at the rates of investment going on in Africa right now from not just the United States, but from China and in the EU. It’s one of the reasons why there is such reluctance to impose any sort of serious travel ban, because it would mean tens of billions of dollars, theoretically, not made. And in fact, Dr. Frieden of the CDC today when, during his press conference, talked about, I think he said the figure was $48 billion dollars that it cost the world, because there were, in his view, unnecessary travel bans imposed a decade ago during the SARS epidemic. So again, it’s not my position to say whether or not a travel ban should take place, but clearly these steps that have just been announced about checking for fever at airports like Newark and Dulles and JFK and others are long overdue.

HH: Let me ask you, then, to overlay the key part of last night’s Leon Panetta interview with Bill O’Reilly. I don’t know if you had a chance to watch that, but have you had Secretary Panetta on, yet?

JT: No, Gloria Borger did the interview for CNN, and we ran a big chunk of that yesterday on the show.

HH: Well, I hope he sits down with you. I want to talk to him as well, and he’s very candid, and of course, he’s got the same sort of experience set that both Gates and Rumsfeld had, and they’re serious guys, and they take it seriously. But one of the things he described in that interview with O’Reilly is that there really was no decision ever made on bombing Syria.

JT: Right.

HH: It just didn’t happen. And I’m wondering if the same “leadership” style is at work in the Ebola crisis at the White House, which is not to decide is to decide to do nothing?

JT: It’s a legitimate question. I mean, I think that these criticisms that we’ve heard from Secretary Gates, Secretary Panetta, Secretary Clinton to a degree, her criticism of don’t do stupid stuff is not a philosophy, you know, you can discount one of them. You know, maybe you can discount two of them. I don’t know how you discount three of them. There are questions about whether the kind of centralized leadership style is appropriate for the times in which we live, and that’s certainly what Secretary Panetta is saying, that at the very least, he thought that a decision should have been made, even if the decision was don’t arm the ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels. He thought that at the very least, it should have been announced. He was also very critical on the subject of whether or not the Obama administration should have pressed harder for there to be troops kept in Iraq.

HH: No, it genuinely is a portrait of a lassitudinous. Now Bill Burton on your network, I think it was with Wolf, former deputy press secretary, said that Secretary Panetta was doing a dishonorable thing by publishing this book. That struck a lot of people as raw. What did you make of that comment?

JT: Well look, I mean, as a reporter, I’m biased in favor of people being candid. And as a reporter, I’m biased in favor of any…so I can’t say that I like Paul O’Neill’s insider take on Bush, but not say that I also like Panetta’s insider take on Obama. I like them all. I want all of it. So you know, I think dishonorable is the wrong term. I could certainly understand why somebody would say, because first of all, I mean, a word like dishonorable, to whom are you supposed to have honor? Is it the country? Is it an individual? I could see why somebody might think it’s not the most loyal thing in the world to write a book that describes your view of somebody who gave you a job, but you have to remember also, Panetta, Clinton, Gates, these are people who had big names, and there was a lot of regard for them before President Obama asked them to do anything. So they don’t owe anything. But generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with any of these people writing their books, because I’m a journalist, and that would be completely contrary to what I do.

HH: I agree. Got to play one quote for you from all the debates last night, this is Kay Hagan after her debate. She got clobbered by Thom Tillis. That’s my opinion, not yours, but just, he swept the floor with her. She went to a post-debate Q&A. Here’s what she said, cut number four:

Reporter: The other issue that you’ve seen a lot about is the Thom Tillis commercial accusing Hagan of skipping meetings on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here’s what she had to say about that.

KH: There was one. And what had happened at that hearing that was scheduled early in the day, and then votes were scheduled, and that hearing then, that hearing then had to be postponed later that day. So yes, I did miss that one.

HH: So Jake Tapper, Cory Gardner’s hitting Udall on missing meetings concerning ISIS, Kay Hagan’s getting pummeled on missing meetings concerning ISIS. Are you covering this story?

JT: No, I mean, we covered, we did a piece yesterday on the Senate. It was a wrap with John King, and we talked about, and then we’re going to have more on this tomorrow, basically about how the math is really going to be very, very difficult for the Democrats to keep the Senate. But I haven’t looked into specific charges or countercharges.

HH: That’s great.

JT: We were supposed to do a story on the Kansas Senate race today, but…

HH: You got a new poll. Pat Roberts is one point up from CNN today. That’s a big deal. Did you see that poll? CNN’s poll has Pat Roberts up a point?

JT: Yeah, no, yeah, it’s huge. It’s huge, especially because the previous poll, he was down by eight. So that’s getting very competitive. You know, that whole race is so curious, because Orman, the “independent” running, I find it so odd for any candidate not to say with whom they will caucus. I find it, by the way, a perfectly legitimate argument to say I’m an independent, and I’ll do what’s best for Kansas, and if the party in charge is Republican, I’ll caucus with them, and if the party in charge is Democrat, I’ll caucus with them. I think that’s acceptable. I don’t know why the answers are so vague.

HH: Or why he just…because he has to answer the 50/50 question is why. Jake Tapper of The Lead, remember Brian Hoyer, greatest comeback in the NFL’s history.

End of interview.


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