Things You Didn't Know About Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper is a name you're going to hear a lot over the course of Donald Trump's presidency. Though he's been a journalist for more than 20 years, the 47-year-old CNN correspondent has made waves recently for his tough interview style on his show The Lead, specifically when speaking with the President or members of his cabinet. He's won the hearts of Internet nerds everywhere with his witty banter on Twitter and political cartoons (yes, he's an illustrator). Tapper has gone tête-à-tête with Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, more than once, and their heated dynamic was immortalized on Saturday Night Live. There's a lot to like about Jake Tapper, which is astonishing considering he's not an actor or musician or celebrity, but rather a talking head on cable news. Here's why.

He dated Monica Lewinski

A deep dive into Tapper's past reveals that he once dated Monica Lewinski and reported on it in a January 30, 1998, article written for the Washington City Paper. The article, titled "I Dated Monica Lewinski: Behind the tawdriest of headlines, there's a woman I wouldn't mind bringing home to mom" came out only 13 days after Drudge Report broke the story that Lewinski and then-President Bill Clinton had engaged in an sexual relationship between 1995 and 1996. In the article, Tapper talks about meeting Lewinski in a bar when he asked her for a quarter to continue playing pool. Tapper asked one of his Washington friends named Joe in the bar about Lewinski. "Joe told me that Monica was bad news, that she had left the White House because she had kept wandering into the Oval Office and inappropriately striking up conversations with the commander in chief," Tapper writes.

Figuring Joe was just spreading gossip, as was normal in D.C., Tapper and Lewinski exchanged information and set up a date. About the date, Tapper writes, "I didn't work her over for her opinions on Netanyahu, the emotional residue from her parents' split, any of that. It was a first date, one I wasn't sure would be followed by a second, and how was I to know that the woman on the other side of the table would set the presidency into seismic rumblings?" Now, nearly 20 years later, and being a regular fixture of network television, it would be a good story to say that you went on a date Jake Tapper, too.

His wife worked for Planned Parenthood

Jake Tapper married Jennifer Marie Brown in 2006. According to their marriage announcement in The New York Times, Jennifer was, at that time, the "regional field manager in Washington for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America." The posting goes on to say that she "recruits, educates and organizes supporters of the organization." These days, Jennifer and Jake have two children and live in Washington, D.C. Jennifer no longer works with Planned Parenthood, but her tenure with the organization is not something Jake seems to have forgotten. Just this year, Tapper took Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to task for falsely claiming that federal funds to Planned Parenthood "commit people's taxpayer dollars to fund" abortion." It would seem, at least on this issue, that the Tappers put up a united front.

He asked Trump the same question 23 times

In a heroic display of tenaciousness, Jake Tapper asked then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump the same question 23 times during a 2016 interview with CNN. Trump has a history of steamrolling interviewers, either through antagonizing them or simply not answering any of their tough questions. Tapper, surely aware by then of Trump's interview tactics asked, rephrased, and asked again, over and over variations on this question: "Let me ask you about comments you made about the judge in the Trump University case. You said that you thought it was a conflict of interest that he was the judge because he is of Mexican heritage, even though he is from Indiana. Hillary Clinton said that that is a racist attack on a federal judge."

As this Washington Post article points out, it was only after 22 failed attempts to get any kind of response out of Trump that Tapper finally broke through, asking, "If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?" to which Trump replied, "No, I don't think so at all." Even Trump's relative non-answer represents a well-earned crack in the façade of Trump's notorious linguistic shell game. It also earned Tapper a lot of kudos from both sides of the aisle for keeping Trump on-issue.

He loves old school rap

As if anybody needed another reason to like this guy, Jake Tepper told Bon Appetit that he's a big old-school rap fan. He listens to it when he's at the gym, telling the magazine, "After I drop my daughter off at school, I go to the gym. If I could go back and talk to my 25-year-old self I'd say, 'You know all those core routines you don't do because they don't have any effect on the size of your arms? Now would be the time to do them.' I work out four days a week with a trainer. It's mainly strength, core, and cardio. When I go into the gym, they know to take off the pop. Old-school rap—that's what I'm looking for." Tapper explains that Warren G's and Nate Dogg's song "Regulate" is his "anthem."

Sir Mix-a-Lot is his Twitter buddy

Listening to Warren G in the gym is one thing, but to truly strut your stripes as a fan of old school hip hop, it's best to engage in a Twitter conversation with Sir Mix-a-Lot, auteur of the 1992 runaway hit "Baby Got Back." And that's exactly what Jake Tapper did when he posted in January 2014 that Sir Mix-a-Lot "taught me not to lie," to which @therealmix responded "I try to set an example." The two bantered back and forth for a bit, complimenting one another. Tapper wrote to Mix, "one might also admire your war on nefarious societal pressures aka 'so Cosmo says you're fat/well I ain't down with that'" The entire exchange is very funny, especially considering Tapper's role on CNN and as a former moderator for the Presidential Debates.

He and Kellyanne Conway have a history

Earlier this month, on his CNN political show The Lead, Tapper interviewed Kellyanne Conway. Conway had, weeks prior, falsely referred to a fatal terrorist attack on American soil that she called the "Bowling Green massacre" when, in fact, no such event has ever occurred. The media, specifically those on the left, came down hard on Conway and the term "alternative facts" was invoked. During Tapper's interview, Conway, who is the Counselor to the President, was challenged on several of Trump's statements, specifically that media outlets like CNN spend too much time talking about, well, Trump, and not other issues like terrorist attacks.

Ultimately, it was a fairly routine interview for Tapper and for Conway, but afterward, Trump's adviser Sebastian Gorka told The Hill's Joe Concha that he found Tapper's tone during the interview to be "very disappointing." He continued, "It was trying to treat a woman as a punching bag, really. It was clear." Concha then asked Gorka, "So you saw Tapper as being sexist toward Kellyanne in that particular interview?" Gorka, who had been interviewed by Tapper before, replied, "I hope not. I hope it wasn't. He [Tapper] was very nice to me, maybe because he'd never met me before. But why her? Why Kellyanne? Why be so aggressive with her and not with me? Hard to answer..." Basically, Gorka tried to flip the blame. Instead of Kellyanne, speaking on behalf of the President, being accountable for misinformation, it's Tapper whose being sexist. This Kellyanne interview is emblematic of how life is going to be for Tapper moving forward with the current presidential administration. It's going to get messier, for sure.

Tapper can't control his face

After the interview, the major takeaway in the media was that Tapper stayed on Conway the way he had with Trump, requiring his guests to own up to misinformation. But a little sideshow that occurred after the interview involved Tapper's facial expressions. As points out, Tapper's disapproving or at times confused looks during his Conway interview became ripe fodder for the Internet. On Twitter, a user named @MrDane1982 screenshot the perfect moment of a perplexed Tapper with the caption, "This is the face your dad makes when he knows your lying!!! Jake Tapper is a funny dude! Kellyanne Conway is making all of our heads spin." Another Tweet used a similar photo from the interview with the caption, "You are the face of the nation right now! This face..."

And this isn't even the first time Tapper has been publicized for making faces at Kellyanne Conway. After an interview in 2016, in which Conway falsely insinuated that there was an assassination attempt on Donald Trump, Tapper let out a chuckle. He just couldn't help it. In an interview with Vogue earlier this month, Tapper was asked, "Your expressions are certainly well-documented: Is it hard to keep a straight face sometimes?" to which Tapper responded, "Well, unbeknownst to me, apparently it is . . . but that is not something I'm doing purposely. Those faces, those expressions, are ones that my friends and family and colleagues here at work know very well."

SNL parodied him and Kellyanne

A little more than a week after his February 2017 interview with Kellyanne Conway, Tapper was parodied in a controversial Saturday Night Live skit in which cast member Kate McKinnon (playing Conway) stalks Tapper (played by Beck Bennett) in the style of Fatal Attraction. In the sketch, Bennett, as Tapper, tells a colleague he didn't have Conway on a fictitious episode of his show, saying, "the White House offered her, she just, she's got too many credibility issues." But when Tapper returns home to his apartment he finds McKinnon, as Conway, sitting at his kitchen table in a provocative night gown. She tries to seduce Tapper into putting her on the news, and when he refuses, citing again her history of lying, she gets violent. The skit was a bit hit in the news and on social media, and it helped raise the profile of the already soaring Jake Tapper.

His reaction to the sketch on Twitter was also pretty hilarious.

He isn't afraid to call out his own network

In November of 2016, while Tapper was on vacation, his host network, CNN, ran what he considered to be an inappropriate chyron (that bit of text that runs at the bottom of the screen) during a discussion panel over whether or not Trump needed to distance himself from the racist sentiments touted by the alt-right. While the panel discussed the topic, the chyron read, "ALT-RIGHT FOUNDER QUESTIONS IF JEWS ARE PEOPLE."

Soon after, Tapper took to Twitter, writing, "Yes, I'm off this week and I'm furious about that chyron and my staff has heard from me. Unacceptable." In Tapper's opinion, which was shared by many others, the vague chyron implied that the discussion on the panel was sympathetic to the anti-Semitic viewpoint of the "alt-right founder." Tapper, whose father is Jewish and mother converted to Judaism, is not afraid to challenge people or corporations when they're being destructive or deceptive, even if that corporation happens to be his employer.

He's a cartoonist

Evidenced by his humorous and often charming Twitter posts, Jake Tapper likes to have fun and crack jokes in between interviewing some of the most influential people in the world. Tapper channels his satirical yearnings through illustration, specifically cartoons. When he hosted the CNN segment State of the Union, he would end episodes with what he called "State of the Cartoon-ion" in which he'd play political, illustrated animations that he'd drawn about relevant Washington gossip and news (mainly about Trump). They're pretty funny and he's a talented artist. He was even allowed to guest illustrate the famous comic strip Dilbert, which he then auctioned off for charity.

He was suspended in high school

Tapper was born in New York, but raised in Queen Village, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He attended Akiba Hebrew Academy which, at the time, was located in Center City, Philadelphia. (The school has since changed names and locations.) While there, Tapper thrived, serving as class president, becoming editor of his school's newspaper, and gaining a certain reputation for mischief. He was a prankster.

"It was the end-of-year prank that made him famous schoolwide," writes Nathan Guttman in an article for the website Forward. "Tapper drew an elaborate cartoon for the school's senior yearbook. But when folded over (as in Mad magazine cartoons), the page commemorating the school's 40th anniversary revealed a penis. Tapper was suspended and required to do 75 hours of community service, but was allowed to graduate."