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Jake Tapper On Media Coverage Of Koch Brothers Versus Tom Steyer, And Whether That Disparity Will Even Out In MSM

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HH: I begin with Jake Tapper, host of The Lead. Hello, Jake, how are you?

JT: I’m good, Hugh. That’s quite a lineup you’ve got today.

HH: It is. It’s a very busy day. But I have to begin with the most important thing, which is that the Phillies are 10-10, and they’re already three and a half games out of first place. That’s a tough start, Jake, when Atlanta’s 14-7.

JT: You know, you can say that, but I look at the cup as half full. I mean, look at the Sixers. The Phillies aren’t as bad as the Sixers, right? So…

HH: Well, nothing, the…Ukraine’s not as bad as the Sixers. I mean, Crimea is better off than the Sixers. Do you own any Apple stock at least? I mean, are you happy about that?

JT: It’s great to see. I mean, first of all, any, I don’t talk about what stocks I have, but it’s great to see a company like Apple do so well, because I use so many of its products. It’s always innovating, and I always like it when a company that works hard to do that..although obviously it’s not a perfect company. We see what happens with some of its labor problems.

HH: I always tell people I own Apple, and I’m very happy when they do well. But I also have, I’m talking to you off of an iPad-powered show right now. Coming up after the beak, Jake, John Hinderaker is going to be on talking about his big piece on Tom Steyer, and there’s another one at the…

JT: Yeah, it’s, I’ve been reading it. It’s very interesting. You know, we haven’t, we don’t do much in terms of profiling money men. We haven’t really talked much about the Koch Brothers. We put in an interview request with Mr. Steyer, but we haven’t covered him. But his history, that Hinderaker has covered, is very interesting, all about coal.

HH: Yeah, and in fact, Lachlan Markay has another piece on him over at the Washington Free Beacon this afternoon. I sense a decision by someone on the conservative side to stop playing nice with the billionaire who has rented the Democratic Party. Do you think the same thing?

JT: I think so. I think it’s also, it’s probably an acknowledgement that Steyer really is very influential. And I think a lot of people probably first noticed that when he, when there was that all-nighter to talk about climate change. And that was certainly an interesting moment. And then I guess Steyer was, just gave an interview that was on C-SPAN, so hopefully, he’s be doing more interviews to talk about…he says he’s very different from the Koch Brothers, so I hope he comes on my show and we can talk about it.

HH: Does he get as much scrutiny as the Koch Brothers do?

JT: Well, and he hasn’t been out there as long, so it would be hard to say anybody gets as much scrutiny as the Koch Brothers do in terms of people. But also, that when, you know, the Koch Brothers are really, in terms of how active they are, they’re really in a class by themselves. I don’t know that it will stay that way forever, but don’t you think, I mean, they’re proud of how active they are.

HH: I know, but I was not aware until I read Hinderaker’s piece that Steyer had made his money from coal mining in part. Were you?

JT: No, certainly not. There certainly has not been as much scrutiny, but again, he’s a relatively new player on the field. I’m sure that this won’t be the only article we read, and there will be another more mainstream publication as he continues to wield his clout.

HH: Let’s listen to an ad that’s playing in Colorado right now from American, I think it’s called American Commitment, yeah, American Commitment.

Female voice: California billionaire Tom Steyer is bankrolling Colorado Senator Mark Udall’s campaign. Steyer even hosted Udall for a fundraiser in his San Francisco mansion. But Steyer’s hurt our state. He tried to make millions by diverting water from Southern Colorado. When local residents spoke out, Steyer’s partners pushed statewide ballot initiatives to bankrupt local opponents and steal San Luis Valley water. Now Mark Udall is helping Steyer kill the Keystone Pipeline, even though Coloradans strongly support it. Pipeline delay is a victory for Tom Steyer, but a cold slap in the face of American workers. Call Mark Udall. Tell him to put Colorado ahead of his billionaire backer and support the Keystone Pipeline.

HH: Now Jake Tapper, as the old saying goes, that ain’t bean bag.

JT: No, and it reminded me, actually, of some of the ads we heard in the 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney, and against Republican candidates supported by the Koch Brothers. And you know, I think you’re going to see this as more money is able to be wielded by individuals as the campaign finance system evolving, devolving, however you want to call it, you’ll see more people holding politicians accountable for people, multi-millionaires and billionaires who are supporting them. It doesn’t surprise me, but I did not know that there was that ad running. What is the group running the ad, is who?

HH: It’s called American Commitment. I don’t know anything about them. I just got my cut sheet from Duane, and listened to it earlier before the show and said oh, I’ll ask Jake about this, because here’s the interesting thing. As these billionaires get involved, the Koch Brothers have been put through the wringer. I mean, I can’t go a day without reading a Koch Brother story. I have been skeptical that mainstream media/Manhattan-Beltway elites, would look at the Steyers of the world in the say they have gone after the Kochs, because they never looked at Soros that way. Soros never got put under the microscope. Do you think that’s changing?

JT: I mean, I can’t predict, but I can’t imagine it won’t, just because the money is evolving in the way it is, where individuals are able to wield so much power. You know, one thing that I have to say, just whether it’s the Koch Brothers or Steyer or whomever, the idea that we don’t know who is behind these groups, the groups that are required to give the names of their contributors except quarterly is so, is such a joke, because I mean, if the group is required to disclose its contributors, that’s information that can be posted within a day or two of the check coming in. And the fact that Congress does not require that says all you need to know about how seriously they take disclosure rules.

HH: Well, I don’t think they really want disclosure rules, and I’m one of these people that believe the 1st Amendment doesn’t compel disclosure. And if you want it in some instances, like the NAACP case when the State of Alabama tried to get the NAACP to reveal its names back in the days of segregation, we don’t want transparency. But in this case, you know, I want transparency. But I mostly want a media active and digging into people like Tom Steyer. And I’m afraid because mostly, not saying this about CNN or you, Jake, but mostly, the media’s lefty, and the New York Times is certainly lefty, and the Post is lefty, and they’ll go after Koch, but they won’t go after Steyer. And I’m hoping, you’re saying that won’t stay that way?

JT: Well, I mean, look, I can’t predict, but I would be surprised if there weren’t some big story on Steyer, especially after the work that John’s done digging this up, because certainly, that, and you know, look, I’m sure a response that he could give about his come to Jesus moment or whatever on the environment, but the same, but the idea is interesting. It is inherently interesting. Now that’s not to say that the tone will be the same of a profile of the Koch Brothers that you might read in the mainstream publications, but I can’t imagine there won’t be the same kind of scrutiny by investigative reporters who are looking for a good story.

HH: Yeah, the big deal is, the bottom line is are the proponents of global warming making money off of green energy? I think that’s really what drove Hinderaker’s piece, is that here’s a guy who made a bunch of money off of coal. Now he’s switched into the global warming business, which has an upside for solar power if it spreads. And that’s the old honest graft that Boss Tweed talked about as opposed to dishonest graft. And I just think it makes my head dizzy. Okay, let me close by asking you about Malaysia Air 370. You covered it a lot.

JT: You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

HH: No, I want to. I want to know one thing. Are you a lot smarter about airplanes now than you were 45 days ago?

JT: So I know much more about aviation, about undersea exploration, and about the Malaysian culture than…and about geography in that hemisphere than I was before. I do think that in addition to the fact that this is the biggest aviation mystery in the history of mankind, and in addition to the fact that there are 239 people who have vanished from the face of the Earth, but beyond those two stories which are compelling, I do think that there is part of this story that people are interested in because there are opportunities to learn things about parts of the world that you didn’t know. I do think that that’s part of why there have, there continue to be viewers for shows that spend so much time talking about the plane.

HH: I agree with that. Robert Kaplan was on talking about his new book, Asia’s Cauldron, and he said you know, it’s unfortunate everyone’s getting their first glimpse of Malaysia, but it is fortunate that everyone is getting their first glimpse of Malaysia, I’m paraphrasing there. But it’s…

JT: Right.

HH: I’m amazed by the audience’s interest, and I know you’ve got to take care of your audience. Jake Tapper, it is always a pleasure to speak to you. Maybe by this time next time, the Phillies will have gotten above the .500 mark. I doubt it, but we’ll check in. Be well.

JT: (laughing)

End of interview.


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