CNN’s Jake Tapper is one of the few DC journalists who hasn’t forgotten that their jobs involve holding the government accountable for their actions and digging beyond their standard talking points no matter the party, and he doesn’t disappoint here – as Newsbusters’ PJ Gladnick recaps:
[Thursday] White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough kept defending the record of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinkseki over his handling of the Veterans Administration hospitals scandal on CNN’s The Lead. Finally an increasingly agitated Jake Tapper grew frustrated with the excuses until he exploded in anger: “How Many Dead Veterans Do You Need?”
It was an all too familiar administration two-step but the normally mild-mannered Tapper wasn’t going to have any of it. In the dramatic video below the jump, you can see a clearly upset Tapper finally lash out at McDonough.
Gladnick provides video of the exchange at the link above. Below is a contextual transcript of the back and forth:
MCDONOUGH: And we work with Chairman Miller, we work with Chairman Sanders, we work with all of the members of the House and Senate to make sure that they have it.
That’s why the president has seen dramatically expanded investments in Veterans Administration operations over the course of these last five years, year on year, historic increases in that budget, at a time, by the way, Jake, when we have seen budgets under intense pressure. We will continue to make those investments.
-Gladnick – Finally Tapper could take no more of the excuses:
TAPPER: How many stories like this, how many letters like this, how many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, maybe this guy isn’t the best steward of these veterans?
MCDONOUGH: The question, Jake, is, are we doing everything we can every day to get the veterans the care and the opportunities that they deserve?
TAPPER: But you are not. This letter was sent a year ago. And you guys ignored it.
MCDONOUGH: And we have been working aggressively to ensure that not only is health care expanded, opportunities made more ready to our vets, but that people are held to account, as Ric is doing in this case. We will continue to do that.
TAPPER: Last question, sir. And that is, I appreciate your being here and I appreciate your coming and facing these questions live on television.
Drew Griffin has been trying to get an interview with General Shinseki for months, literally. He is the one that broke the story. He’s the reason there was a hearing today. Why has Shinseki avoided reporters like Drew Griffin? Why does the VA cordon itself off from accountability, not only from lawmakers and the public, but the press? Doesn’t there need to be a bigger cultural change there?
Well done, sir. Make sure to watch the video clip at the link above as well.
Tapper, formerly of ABC News, is no stranger to issues impacting veterans and their families. He has a book titled The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor which you should promptly buy and read, if you haven’t already.