From the Obama campaign trail to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jake Tapper has covered many of the most compelling stories of the past decade. As CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and host of The Lead With Jake Tapper, he’s a tough, tenacious interviewer whose questions often challenge—and annoy—whoever sits opposite him.
That should come as no surprise to those who remember Tapper from his days as a member of Jack Barrack (Akiba) Hebrew Academy’s Class of ’87. That’s where the bestselling author funneled his irreverent wit into writing and cartooning. By eighth grade, he was art editor of the school newspaper and had his own comic strip, “Vacant Lot,” in a Philadelphia paper called the South Street Star.
A year later, as editor of the Akiba paper, he learned a valuable lesson after enlisting his pals to join the staff. “One of those friends decided to run against me for the editorship,” Tapper says. “And he won. At the time, it was devastating.”
But Tapper stayed involved with the paper until graduation. “The experience was an important one in terms of loyalty and working through challenges,” he says. “Such as they are in ninth grade.”