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Who Is Jake Tapper, Tonight’s Presidential Debate Moderator?

Who Is Jake Tapper, Tonight’s Presidential Debate Moderator?

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Jake Tapper is one of the two moderators of Thursday’s presidential debate, along with Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent. Their ability to guide and navigate the event may be crucial to how President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump — and CNN, which is overseeing the debate — are received by the public. Here is what you need to know about Mr. Tapper.

Job: Chief Washington correspondent, CNN. Anchor, “The Lead.”

Age: 55.

Bio: Mr. Tapper started his career as a reporter at the Washington City Paper and Salon. At ABC News, he reported from Iraq and Afghanistan and eventually became senior White House correspondent. He joined CNN in 2013.

Debates: Mr. Tapper has moderated numerous primary debates sponsored by CNN, including two featuring Mr. Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. He also moderated a 2020 Democratic debate between Mr. Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Style: Mr. Tapper is deeply steeped in political history: His CNN office is wallpapered in campaign ephemera from candidates who lost. On the air, he can be by turns professorial and feisty. The latter quality was especially apparent in some of his better-known interviews, like a 25-minute grilling of Kellyanne Conway in 2018.

What to Watch For: Mr. Tapper does not hesitate to cut off meandering politicians — or presidential candidates trying to hijack the debate stage. Mr. Trump assailed him as “Fake Tapper” in the lead-up to Thursday. The former president could directly question Mr. Tapper’s objectivity on Thursday, perhaps as a proxy for Mr. Trump’s longtime gripes about CNN.



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