Eric StarkmanEric Starkman

I don’t watch cable news. Most of the anchors strike me as vacuous Barbie and Ken types who use guests as foils to distract that they are just a bunch of pretty faces. I’ve long been awed by how cable news shows have no shortage of seemingly smart and accomplished guests willing to prostitute themselves for a few fleeting moments of television fame.

But when the New York Post Sunday featured this news clip of CNN host Jake Tapper’s interview of White House advisor Stephen Miller on its home page, I was obligated to watch it. The Post is an excellent barometer of public culture and discourse, and Tapper’s interview was definitely one for the ages. The interview is must-see TV for anyone who wants to understand the incompetency of President Trump’s most trusted aides and the sad state of journalism today.

Among the interview’s extraordinary revelations was the ability for two people to sit face-to-face and talk to each other without any real communication. Miller came on the show to trash and discredit Michael Wolff’s takedown book on President Trump (“grotesque work of fiction” was one of his key message points), while Tapper clearly regarded Wolff’s allegations as undisputed truths. The disdain and disrespect Miller and Tapper had for each other was palpable.

It’s unfortunate that Tapper’s listening and interviewing skills are so lacking because he missed an opportunity to land a knock-out blow. Speaking of Wolff’s book, Miller said that “page after page after page are pure false,’’ and “completely and totally fraudulent.” Miller said the book described numerous events where he was present and he knows for certain that Wolff’s depictions were false. Had Tapper asked Miller to provide some examples, I’m quite certain Miller wouldn’t have had any. If Tapper kept pressing for Miller to back up his message points with examples, the emperor’s advisor would have been exposed with no clothes.

Tapper’s claim that Miller was wasting the time of CNN viewers was mistaken. In fact, an interview with a senior advisor to the president and the likely author of his message points to discredit Wolff’s book should have been a coup. Tapper simply didn’t have the talent to close the deal.

It’s unbelievable that Tapper hasn’t been remanded for rudely cutting off Miller and terminating the interview. Regardless of one’s opinion of Miller, he’s still an influential advisor to the president and CNN journalists should be obligated to respect the institution of the presidency. Tapper’s inept interview of Miller lends credence to Trump’s often repeated allegation that CNN is a “fake news” network.

President Trump tweeted after the interview that Miller “destroyed” Tapper. I’d argue the deplorable exchange was mutually destructive.


Eric Starkman founded STARKMAN PR firm in 1999. It has offices in New York and San Francisco.