Before Jake Tapper was CNN's Jake Tapper, he was just another twentysomething Hill staffer. "Completely self-centered and enjoying it," the journo joked.
But then, his circle of friends introduced him to Horton's Kids, a D.C.-based charity that tutors and provides field trips to youngsters from two area housing projects, the Wellington and Stanton Oaks communities, situated just across the Anacostia River from Capitol Hill.
"I was a press secretary on Capitol Hill, I fell in with these other press secretaries on Capitol Hill, and I heard that a bunch of them did this," Tapper told Whispers, explaining how he first took to volunteering, which he did actively for 10 years. Tapper loved it – but said it was also sobering. "My experience at the end of the day was a little bit heartbreaking," he said. One of his kids died due to gun violence, while others moved away.
"It was [one of] the most meaningful things I did...in my entire twenties and one of the most meaningful things I've ever done," Tapper told the crowd gathered at an '80s-themed fundraiser at the House of Sweden Wednesday night.
Tapper was tapped to emcee the event – helping the charity to celebrate its 25th year – as he's now one of the group's most prominent volunteer alums. But another Washington media personality also strolled through the door: Daily Caller Founder Tucker Carlson.
"I remember being on the road with Jake in '99 when we were both reporters covering the presidential race and him telling me about [Horton's Kids]," Carlson told Whispers. "I had three kids by that point, weirdly, so our support has been from afar, limited to financial support, but I've always been a fan since the beginning," Carlson added.
Tapper, though reminded Whispers he isn't a partisan, said the group always attracted volunteers from all over the political aisle.
"Two of the most active people in it – one worked for Newt Gingrich...and the other was [founder Karin Walser] who worked for Joe Moakley, a Democrat from Massachusetts," Tapper said. "It's a great way for people on Capitol Hill...to see what poverty is and what need is, [and] not reading from partisan talking points."