CNN’s Jake Tapper caused a stir over the weekend after he characterized the deaths of the Navy SEALs who died in the 2005 mission Operation Redwing as “senseless.” Tapper made the comments during an interview with Marcus Luttrell and Mark Wahlberg, who played Luttrell in the film adaptation of Lone Survivor. A visibly frustrated Marcus pushed back at Tapper’s commentary. On radio this morning, Glenn explained that he is giving Tapper the benefit of the doubt - even if it wasn't his finest moment.
“All right, so on Friday I think it was, [CNN] ran an interview with Marcus Luttrell and Jake Tapper… And [Tapper] says something that I think is understandable,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “But he's talking about an event that happened in 2005, with the guy who is the lone survivor. And the last thing you say to the lone survivor, is what you know, ‘It's kind of like all those deaths were senseless.’ Excuse me? Now, Jake – I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think it was a stupid thing to say, but I mean, I haven't said stupid things? Please.”
When discussing how he felt while watching Lone Survivor, Tapper had this to say about the message of the film:
TAPPER: One of the emotions that I felt, while watching the film is first of all the hopelessness of the situation — how horrific it was and also just all that loss of life of these brave American men. And I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself. I don’t want any more senseless American death. And at the same time I know that there were bad people there and good people that need help.
Marcus, however, was quick to hit back:
LUTTRELL: I don’t know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness really never came into it. I mean, where did you see that? Because there was never a point where we just felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that. We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing until we were actually dead.
After a bit of back and forth, Tapper conceded his feelings watching the film were informed by his civilian life, whereas Marcus lived through the tragedy as a soldier. Wahlberg, who sat quietly through the exchange, summed up the argument rather nicely.
TAPPER: Maybe it's just the difference between what a civilian feels when he watched this and what a solider does.
WAHLBERG: Absolutely. I completely agree. But his opinion is never going to change. That's his job. The more time I spend with the Marcus, the more I really understand who they are and what they do for us. And it's pretty amazing.
Watch the entire conversation unfold below (applicable video begins around the 3-minute mark):
Tapper received some pushback on social media from people who were offended by his analysis of the deaths, but Tapper took offense to TheBlaze’s coverage of the story. Specifically, the first paragraph of Oliver Darcy’s story that reads:
Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell pushed back at CNN’s Jake Tapper after the host suggested in an interview that the “lone survivor’s” fellow veterans died for nothing.
Tapper took to Twitter to issue this response:
@oliverdarcy don't think 1st paragraph is accurate. No one said they died for nothing. Are you at all familiar w my reporting on the war?
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 11, 2014
“I understand, you know, if he was upset with the reporting on TheBlaze,” Glenn said. “And there were several that were upset with the reporting on TheBlaze, but we did not retract that story because we believe we got the story right.”
When you look up the definition of the word senseless, it means “without discernible meaning or purpose.” When you are speaking to a man who lost his entire unit and nearly his own life, ‘senseless’ was probably not the best choice of words.
“You can't say that to anybody,” Pat said. “But especially not to Marcus who lost his brothers in that battle.”
Glenn believes that Tapper was looking at this interview from a 2014 perspective, in which it has become harder and harder to understand why we are continuing to put our service man and women in harms way for a war that we do not seem to be winning. But if that is indeed what Tapper meant, it should have been presented in a different way.
“I think this is what he means: How do we stop this war? Because I don't even know what it means anymore. I don't want another person to die because I can't attach meaning to it right now,” Glenn surmised. “[But] you don't even say that today. If you're sitting next to a soldier who just came back and was on a mission and lost all of his buddies, you don't say to him, ‘By the way, did they die for anything?’ You have in a conversation separately.”
Ultimately, Stu chose to give Tapper the benefit of the doubt in this case because he has been such a strong supporter of the troops in the past.
“I think the larger part of this, of course, is people are looking at this as well, Jake Tapper is another member of the liberal media. [But] I cannot be more effusive in my praise of Jake Tapper… As far as Tapper goes… he been great taking on the President – not now when he's got a 45% approval rating, but when he had a 70% approval rating he was doing it as a journalist,” Stu explained. “Not only that, but he's been incredibly good on the troops, on the valor of the troops, how brave they are. He has been done nothing but been incredibly fair to them… Maybe it’s the wrong question at the wrong time. But that's a minor criticism of a glowing record for this guy.”