Former chief political correspondent for Salon.com
Worked for Cable News Network (CNN) and did commentaries for National Public Radio
Dated Monica Lewinsky, then wrote about it
Jake Tapper is a national correspondent for ABC News.
Tapper was born in 1969 in Philadelphia and raised in its Queen Village neighborhood. He graduated from Akiba Hebrew Academy in 1987. In 1991 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. While there, he drew editorial cartoons for the campus newspaper The Daily Dartmouth.
Tapper moved to Los Angeles and for one semester attended the famed film school at the University of Southern California, then quit. Returning home, he became involved in the Congressional camapaign of a family friend, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who won election to the House of Representatives in 1992. Tapper moved to Washington, DC as Mezvinsky’s Press Secretary and was soon contributing weekly editorial cartoons he called "Capitol Hell" to the magazine Roll Call, an outlet for his artwork that continued until 2003. (He has also done editorial cartooning for the conservative magazine The American Spectator.)
President Bill Clinton persuaded Mezvinsky to cast the key vote that passed his huge retroactive tax increase in 1993. Voters threw her out of office in the 1994 election that swept Republicans to control in both houses of Congress.
Unemployed, Tapper set out to support himself with freelance writing and odd jobs. In 1997 he worked for six months doing public relations for Sarah Brady's liberal group Handgun Control, Inc. He also did commentaries, including some critical of Democrats, for National Public Radio (NPR).
Tapper then got a job with the alternative-media Washington City Paper, where his first on-the-job article was about a dinner-date he had with a then-unknown Defense Department employee named Monica Lewinsky, whose intimate relationship with President Clinton would become public weeks later. A later Tapper article about boxer Mike Tyson beating people up on the streets of Washington, DC caught the eye of local writer Margaret Talbot, who urged her brother David Talbot (publisher of Salon.com), to contact Tapper.
In 1999 David Talbot hired Tapper as Salon.com's Washington, DC correspondent. Tapper covered the 2000 presidential primaries, becoming especially close to John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona. Tapper also parlayed his growing celebrity into a first book, Body Slam: The Jesse Ventura Story (1999) about Minnesota's eccentric Governor.
After covering the 2000 general election campaign and the recount controversy in Florida, Tapper published Down and Dirty: the Plot to Steal the Presidency (2001).
During 2001 Tapper was one of five stars of the Cable News Network (CNN) talk show Take Five, and was tapped as a substitute host on Crossfire and other CNN programs. In 2002 he was correspondent for a series of news specials on Viacom's music channel VH1. In 2003 he was host of the Sundance Channel's 24 Frame News. And he continued to contribute during these years to NPR's All Things Considered. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Yorker and the neo-conservative The Weekly Standard.
In 2003, only about one month after close Clinton friend and partisan ally Rick Kaplan returned to ABC as Executive Vice President (after a stint as a top executive at CNN), ABC hired Tapper as a new national correspondent based in Washington, DC.
"He's [Tapper is] not your conventional liberal reporter and is someone who has demonstrated an interest in story topics a liberal ideologue would avoid," wrote the conservative Media Research Center in a July 2003 analysis of his reporting.
Following the 2004 presidential election, Tapper reported on ABC’s November 9, 2004 World News Tonight about Internet rumors alleging that President Bush had somehow stolen the election with help from crooked voting machines. Such rumors were unsubstantiated, said Tapper, who then gave them credibility by devoting a long, detailed discussion to them.
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