CNN host Jake Tapper defended the “20 rebels” from Kevin McCarthy’s own party who refuse to vote for the California Republican as Speaker of the House.
“Let me just turn and just say I know to the viewers out there, this probably seems chaotic and insane, but, A: this is democracy,” the anchor said Wednesday on his show, “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
McCarthy has been denied the required 218 votes needed to assume the gavel in six separate attempts — despite Republicans winning slim control of the lower chamber in the midterms.
Tapper, who has often been criticized for taking a left-leaning stance, spoke up for the cadre of fringe Republicans holding up McCarthy’s ascension during a panel discussion between the fifth and sixth votes.
The “20 rebels are voting the way they’re voting because they actually want substantive changes to the rules,” Tapper said.
He then echoed the words of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who had nominated McCarthy for one of the rounds of voting, saying the chaos is a “feature” of a healthy democracy.
“I think Congressman Gallagher was right earlier today. He said this is messy, and democracy is messy. It’s a feature, not a bug. That’s true,” Tapper said.
Tapper’s comments came as the embattled network seeks to strike a more non-partisan chord with viewers under new boss Chris Licht. Licht, who recently led a hefty round of layoffs at the third-place cable news network, has said his mandate is to tamp down on anti-Trump, left-leaning punditry, among other things.
Prior to Tapper’s remarks, Gallagher defended the process playing out on the House floor. He said even though people are “getting frustrated” with the deadlocked vote, Americans are “lucky” to be “citizens of the greatest country in the world.”
The drama over electing a Speaker recommences at noon on Thursday when the House reconvenes.