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Jake Tapper Does The Right Thing

It's not often that a political pundit will admit to being wrong or apologize for a segment or comment they have done because it was blatantly false or misleading, but CNN's Jake Tapper did just that.

I know I'm a little late in saying this, but I thought it important enough to do so now. Jake Tapper should get major kudos for doing the right thing and apologizing live for dishonestly framing Vice President Joe Biden in a phony way.

Here's how it went down in case you missed it:

On December 3, Biden visited the Toyko headquarters of the Japanese company DeNA. According to the Wall Street Journal, that firm "is known for encouraging its female employees to continue working through motherhood," and Biden was there to "meet with its female employees to chat about achieving a work-life balance in a country where 60% of women don't return to work after giving birth." As part of that dialogue, Biden asked a group of five young female employees, "Do your husbands like you working full time?" Illustrating the vulnerability of journalists working in the current media environment, numerous media outlets ripped Biden's comments from their context and presented them as a sexist gaffe.

That dishonest framing reached CNN the same day, when Crossfire's Gingrich tried to use them to diffuse criticism of the GOP's toxic rhetoric on women. He commented: "Democrats like to complain about a Republican war on women. That was before Vice President Joe Biden started his current tour of Japan. Today, while touring a Japanese game company, he walked up to a group of women and asked them, 'Do your husbands like you working full-time?'" Gingrich used Biden's comments to ask, "How do you explain Biden's inability to stay in touch with reality?"

The next day on his CNN program, Tapper played the same clip to illustrate the media's propensity to highlight the Vice President's gaffes and asked if Republicans are right to say there is a double standard about sexist comments.

Talk about a cock-up. However, the next day he came on and issued a full apology.

Tapper issued a full correction on the December 6 edition of his show, apologizing for doing the vice president and the viewer "the exact same ill service" of focusing on Biden's gaffes without "providing the proper context":

TAPPER: A correction from us now. On Wednesday during a discussion on our roundtable about Vice President Biden I tried to make the point that despite his substantive work, the media perhaps too often focuses on his gaffes. In doing so, I did him and you the exact same ill service by not providing the proper context for a quick sound bite we aired. The vice president had been attending an event in Japan aimed at highlighting efforts to reduce the percentage of Japanese women, currently at 60 percent, who quit their jobs after the birth of their first child.

An important context for you to have known before we showed you the vice president asking some female workers there how their husbands like them working full-time. Again, we were trying to make the point that the VP perhaps deserved a more fair shake but then I inadvertently, ironically, perhaps even hypocritically, did the same thing. I regret the error and apologize to the vice president and to you, the viewer.

Good for him. Now we need to find a way for the media to police itself when they do their staright news segments and even punish repeat offenders for either purposefully slanting their coverage or lying outright.

I had addressed this problem years ago in a post called: Fixing the Talk Shows: C&L's Punditocracy Proposal

(The above graphic is by Michael O'Hanlon, who is a perfect example of a warhawk who has been wrong most of the time.)

1) Set up an Ombudsman with a staff for each network that isn't an employee of their corporation and have a weekly segment devoted to policing the media. They will also be available to take complaints reported by individual citizens and investigate them thoroughly.

2) Replay clips of each pundit when they've been proven wrong and let them explain their positions and why they thought they were right and ask them how they will correct their mistakes in the future.

3) Keep track of their infractions and set up a benchmark, like a 3 strikes your out rule for pundits. When they hit the benchmark, suspend them for a period of time so they can reflect on their mistakes.

4) When they return to work, ask them why they should be believed in the future.

5) It would be nice if they stopped using pundits that we know have been wrong over and over again.

Please add to the list...

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