“It was a fairly successful summit for President Trump,” was CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper’s assessment of how last week’s Argentina G20 meeting went. Sort of surprising, that, except that Tapper then completed his thought to Late Night host Seth Meyers by noting that, for this president, “fairly successful” means there wasn’t “anything horrendously embarrassing that took place,” “we still have alliances,” and Trump didn’t spend the whole time “tweeting nasty things to allies.” So call it a win! USA! USA! But Tapper kids the former host of Celebrity Apprentice who’s the subject of a tightening investigation into whether he conspired with a foreign dictator to undermine the very foundations of American democracy.
And speaking of Vladimir Putin, Tapper told Meyers that the elaborate, televised bro handshake of longtime journalist-murderer Putin and just-starting-out reporter-killer Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 made him “nauseous, a little bit.” (“Welcome, I’ve been doing this for years,” is how the clearly disgusted Tapper interpreted Putin’s warm embrace of the Saudi leader.) Meyers and Tapper went on to speculate/marvel at how villainous things that, say, Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein had to ferret out in darkened parking structures are now paraded in front of TV cameras or posted online in misspelled wee-hours toilet tweets. Tapper spoke of how his role as anchor and journalist requires him to maintain a certain remove from the sort of head-on criticism of Trump and company that Meyers gets to do, yet he worked a steady line of mordant deadpan into his side of the conversation. Saying he’s often “numbed” by the sheer volume of outrages dumped into the news cycle by this administration, Tapper referred back to a pre-Trump era “when our standards for these sort of things . . . existed,” noting how the fact that an American president used social media to complain about people not being nice to him in the wake of an anti-semitic mass murder in Pittsburgh didn’t even make his evening’s broadcast. Tapper’s confession, “So many other things had happened I couldn’t even get to it,” might just be the legacy of the media in the Trump administration.