This year’s Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in Television Political Journalism have named Jorge Ramos of Univision and Fusion TV networks, Katy Tur of NBC News, and Jake Tapper of CNN as the best national journalists of the 2016 election.
Tapper was honored for “his fearless advocacy for the truth throughout the election cycle. Jurors said his interviewing ‘relentlessness’ held officials to account and equipped voters with valuable information from the candidates. Forceful when necessary, refusing to let candidates slip away from important questions, he was praised for his ‘tenacious commitment to sorting fact from fiction, a quality essential to journalism.’”
Much of Tapper’s reporting focused on issues that ended up on the periphery of the campaign discussion. He focused on the controversy over whether former President Obama was born in the United States, David Duke’s unsolicited endorsement of Trump, remarks Trump never endorsed about the death of former Clinton White House official Vince Foster, and accusations Trump was behind rioting at or near his rallies.
He was involved in a few journalistic controversies during the campaign. In one, he appeared to play a deceptively edited clip of Hillary Clinton to set up a question for Trump surrogate Chris Christie.
In another, which turned up in leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Tapper’s producer appeared to solicit friendly questions for a party operative who was to appear on his weekday show.
Tapper had booked Luis Miranda of the Democratic National Committee for his show The Lead. His producer emailed: “Thanks for facilitating Luis coming on today, and bearing with us through a meelee (sic) of GOP nonsense and cancellations and all that. Any particular points he’ll want to make?”
This email was forwarded to Democratic staffers with the line “Need to know asap if we want to offer Jake Tapper questions to ask us.” Later, one came from Miranda that said, “Any particularly good hit we want to dump on Tapper today?”
Tapper vehemently denied taking orders from the DNC, stating that he has “never been given questions to ask any politician.”
Ramos, who works for the Univision and Fusion networks, had his share of run-ins with the Trump campaign. In addition, his daughter worked for President Obama until she joined the Clinton campaign.
He was removed by Secret Service from a Trump campaign press event when he attempted to talk over the reporter Trump had called on so he could ask a question about Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. Trump had Ramos brought back into the room to ask his question, and Ramos launched into a tirade, saying, “You cannot deport 11 million people.”
Ramos, who won for “advancing the conversation about what divides us as a country,” the judges wrote, spent much of the campaign assailing Trump’s immigration policies. He attacked “Kate’s Law” — named in honor of Kathryn Steinle, a California woman murdered by an illegal immigrant in the “sanctuary city” of San Francisco — which attempts to discourage re-entry for any illegal immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony in the U.S. and then deported.
Tur, who made a point of saying in nearly every report how long she had covered Trump, called him “unscripted and undisciplined” and on several occasions attempted to present the views of supporters she purportedly talked to at campaign events as those of the official campaign.
She used a remark by the president’s son to launch racism accusations against Trump supporters.
Just last month, she fired off a series of tweets over Trump’s assertion that the media went light on covering terrorism.
“Every time we ding Trump’s demonstrably false claim press doesn’t cover terror, we talk about terror which is exactly what the WH wants.”
And why did the White House want terrorism covered? “Because talking terror stands to positively influence public opinion on Trump’s travel ban.”
Then, when the White House responded with a lengthy list of terror incidents the press all but ignored, Tur tweeted that the list was incomplete. “WH list makes no mention of any attacks in Israel.”
Tur, according to the Cronkite Awards, “wins for ‘courage under pressure,’ a ‘complete fluency and mastery’ of the subject matter and an ability to convey it ‘effortlessly’ on live television, whether in the field, at a press conference or in the studio. Providing unique insight into Trump voters, she displayed ‘grit and perseverance’ demonstrating the honor of her profession.”
Announcing the winners, USC Annenberg Professor and Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan said, “Today, at this seriously dangerous moment for our democracy, these Cronkite Awards honor journalists, stations and networks stepping up to their civic responsibility to tell Americans the truth.”
The trophies will be presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 28 at an invitation-only ceremony.