What I Wish I Knew Then: Jake Tapper

Tapper penned "Capitol Hell" for Roll Call in the late '90s.

"Sometimes it’s easier to get noticed when you’re young by being meaner and crueler than anyone else. But ultimately that can catch up with you."

Today's feature is with Jake Tapper, anchor of "The Lead With Jake Tapper" and CNN's senior Washington correspondent. Way back, Tapper worked right here at Roll Call as a cartoonist of the aptly named "Capitol Hell" feature. Here are his words of wisdom.

Q. What was one of your earliest professional experiences that shaped your current outlook? A. In high school as a senior work project I interned for Ed Rendell, then the former district attorney challenging the incumbent mayor and fellow Democrat Wilson Goode. Rendell got crushed, but it was interesting to see [Philadelphia city] politics on the ground level instead of just reading about it in the Inquirer.

Q. Best advice given to you? A. In my early days at ABC News, I had trouble getting on air. Peter Jennings pulled me aside and told me to never give up, to keep my story pitches coming, to be persistent even when facing rejection after rejection. “You’ll get there,” he said.

Q. What I didn’t know then but I do know now: A. Jerry Seinfeld had a routine about “Sunday Morning Jerry.” When you’re young, you go out late on Saturday night, you drink a lot or whatever, the attitude is almost as if Sunday Morning Jerry is a completely different person — and this completely separate person will pay for Saturday Night Jerry’s behavior. The same is true for journalism. Sometimes it’s easier to get noticed when you’re young by being meaner and crueler than anyone else. But ultimately that can catch up with you.

Q. What pays off in the long run? A. Skepticism and hard work.

Q.  Fill in the blanks in this sentence: A. Don’t waste your energy on impatience but do put the extra effort into hard work .

Topics: wish-i-knew