Commentary Magazine


No Harm in Congratulations

Yesterday I wrote that ABC’s Jake Tapper, in leading up to his questions to President Obama regarding the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (“I have a couple of questions about ‘don’t ask/don’t tell.’ First of all, congratulations.”), was “revealing of a particular, widespread journalistic persuasion and worldview” regarding DADT.

A person for whom I have respect thought my judgment was overly harsh, that what Tapper said was an example of politeness (akin to saying “congratulations” to a politician who just won a primary or caucus) rather than solidarity on the issue.

On reflection, I think that’s a fair assessment. Tapper’s questions were (as I said in my post) quite good — and Tapper himself is an excellent, tough-minded reporter. And since I’ve argued for the importance of civility in politics and public discourse, it was silly of me to jump on him for offering one sentence of congratulations — especially when it’s followed by two fairly tough, if fair, questions on the subject.

All of which is to say I was wrong and unfair to Mr. Tapper. There are certainly enough egregious examples of journalistic missteps without jumping on him for saying “congratulations.”

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