CNN’s Jake Tapper joined me today to discuss whether MSM is giving New York City Mayor Bill di Blasio as hard a time for weather incompetence as it did Nathan Deal.
HH: Joined now by Jake Tapper of CNN where he hosts The Lead, and he’s been covering the weather. And Jake, do you like weather stories?
JT: (laughing) It’s an interesting question. Do I like weather stories? I mean, I don’t, there’s not a lot that appeals on an intellectual level, but on a visceral level, I think that they can be interesting.
HH: Now I watched all…
JT: …interesting, because it’s things that people are going through right then. So much of what we discuss and we debate is just like in the abstract, and we’re talking about laws and the NSA spying story or whatever. But this is something that affects people. I would say it’s a different part of my brain than I’m used to exercising.
HH: Yeah, you have to ask kind of obvious questions again, but I watched all of the show yesterday with Pat McCrory, and the Situation Room with Wolf, and I saw you guys going after one story, which is did the government do its job and warn people, did the governments do its job and warn people. And Nathan Deal got a hell of a lot of heat two weeks ago, and McCrory, I think, survived this. But now we’ve got de Blasio, and here’s my question, Jake. Do you think the Manhattan-Beltway media elite will be as hard on de Blasio, who has botched this school call fiercely, as they were on Nathan Deal?
JT: It’s an interesting question. And you know, they’re completely different situations. I don’t know, and you could argue that the de Blasio move affects the New York elite much more than what Deal did or did not do. I think what was so stunning about what we saw on the highways of Georgia, and the mayor of Atlanta was certainly criticized as well, was the idea of spending 18 hours stuck in a car because of bad city and state planning, the de Blasio thing, you know, we talked, we had the Manhattan Borough president on the show today, and you know, she kept on using the same line that he Mayor had been stuck between a rock and a hard place. I mean, do you cancel the schools when all these parents have work and then they have nothing to do with these kids or not? I think it’s possible that we’ll see some very tough coverage of de Blasio, especially since in some people’s view, this is the second snowstorm that hasn’t, the city hasn’t stepped up as it should have.
HH: Yeah, I think it’s actually the third. I was there for the first one, and they kind of got it together. The second one, they didn’t. This one’s a disaster. But the de Blasio decision, I think, is going to define him, that he kept, because it’s a safety issue, Jake. He sent those kids to school, and you’re a dad, and I’m a dad, and you just don’t do that. I mean, it’s like the dumbest thing he could have done.
JT: Well, I know. You know, being a parent when your kid is told that there is school that day, you feel an obligation, and there’s actually a law, you have to take your kid to school. You can’t just like not have them go, so I mean, I agree with you that there’s definitely criticism to be made. I don’t fully understand the decision. I’m sure we’ll see more criticisms coming out. Have there been adverse impacts beyond tremendous inconvenience? Have there been, I mean, I know that there’s been serious weather problems, and there was a pregnant woman, apparently, hit by a snowplow in Brooklyn and killed.
HH: And her baby’s, yeah, her baby’s struggling to live.
JT: The repercussions of his decision are negative ones.
HH: Yeah, I just think that they’re interesting moments that define political figures, usually in a crisis. Michael Bloomberg is known for mishandling snowstorms, and various people get in trouble because of weather. I don’t know why any new mayor would ever want to be inaugurated in winter, because it always comes out this way that they can’t handle the first snowstorm. But de Blasio’s kind of like President Obama. He’s got a protective cordon around him, because that inaugural address he gave was right out of the hard left, and barely a notice that he did random attacks on the far right in Manhattan. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. Do you think he’s, he’s got protected status, Jake Tapper?
JT: I don’t think that he’s got protected status. I mean, there was a very tough op-ed, or rather, editorial in the New York Times about the tone of the inauguration. I know that I reported on the tone of the inauguration, not by de Blasio per se, but by people that were part of the ceremonies. Look, absolutely, he, de Blasio won that seat, which I think he won the mayor’s seat with something like 70% of the vote in New York, and it’s not a surprise that a lot of people in the media world probably voted for him. But I don’t know that that means he has a protective, what was the term that you used, a protective core around him?
JT: I mean, if he’s a lousy mayor, he’ll be a lousy mayor. I mean, you could also argue, by the way, that a lot of those media are the ones whose taxes will go up because of de Blasio.
HH: Well, I’m just, there’s no way to actually cover minutes devoted to crises anymore, because there are so many outlets. But it would be interesting if Newsbusters or Mediaite or somebody went and counted the minutes devoted to Deal versus the minutes devoted to de Blasio. And I will bet you that intuitively, but I’m a Republican, so I probably feel this way, that the Manhattan-Beltway media elite wanted to get Deal and McCrory yesterday, and that they’re laying off de Blasio today. Let me ask you, though, Jake…
JT: Well, Hugh, if I could just say one other thing.
HH: Go ahead.
JT: I mean, like we, CNN, like, they asked very tough questions of Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, who’s a Democrat. I mean, he came to CNN that day, and there was some tough questions given to him. I mean, I think that it wasn’t just him, it wasn’t just Deal that got some tough coverage.
HH: No, that’s true, but I think Deal’s been branded with this, and actually, I think Pat McCrory did the right thing. How long did he talk to you guys yesterday? That was a long interview.
JT: I’m not sure, a long time.
HH: Yeah, I think he went out there to do the Chris Christie thing, I’m just going to hang around CNN until they have no more questions for me, and that way, no one can say I wasn’t on top of the situation. Got to get this in quick, Jake. Bad week for John Boehner, terrible week. Great week for the military, and I know you were supportive, or you were giving coverage to the COLA debate, and I appreciate that. By the way, congratulations on The Outpost, it’s going to make a terrific movie. But do you think John Boehner’s days are numbered as Speaker?
JT: I don’t, because I think the thing that really, I mean, I think that the immigration reform bill is the thing that conservatives were really talking about rebelling over. And at the end of the day, the fact is he couldn’t get the votes together for anything other than a clean debt ceiling bill, because no matter what, there were so many people who were just not going to vote for a debt ceiling bill even if it had something attached to it that could theoretically make its way through the Senate, that there were just too many Republicans that were just not going to vote for it, that he needed Democrats, and Democrats, you know, they stayed firm and they didn’t negotiate. They just said it was clean or nothing.
HH: I didn’t think of a coup.
JT: I think that you’re right. There are a lot of disappointed conservatives, but I think what I’m hearing from Republican members of the House, I’m not hearing as much about that as I was about immigration reform and if Boehner pushes immigration reform.
HH: I don’t think there’s going to be coup, but Denny Hastert surprised everyone when he stepped down, and at some point, the Speaker’s got to realize he’s got no mojo left with the caucus, doesn’t he?
JT: I don’t think that he will be in office for another ten years, if that’s what you mean. I mean, I think that he is, it’s a very challenging job.
HH: I was thinking more like ten months, Jake.
JT: You think that that’s it?
JT: He’s doing…
HH: I just cannot imagine the Republicans rallying around him, energy, vision, Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah.
JT: But who do you see as next Speaker?
HH: It could be Hensarling, it could be Price, but of course, Eric Cantor’s got the inside. It would be an interesting debate and a way to reenergize the party and the caucus if John Boehner announced he wasn’t going to be Speaker and to begin an open and transparent process of debating who ought to be. That would be interesting. That would energize. Jake Tapper, get back out in the show. We’ll watch you on The Lead every afternoon through the misery of the East Coast.
End of interview.