CNN’s Jake Tapper has the best Philly accent on TV

On Thursday, CNN anchor and owner of cable news’ “fuck you talkin’ bout?” face took to Twitter to denounce some janky “alt-reich” (his term) account that took Dog the Bounty Hunter’s notorious N-word screed and tried to pass it off as something Tapper would say.

The premise is inherently ridiculous. For starters, there’s no way Duane “Dog” Chapman’s laid back Colorado drawl could be mistaken for Tapper’s pronounced Philadelphia hoagie mouth. Philebrity’s Joey Sweeney argued that South Jersey’s Kellyanne Conway has the market cornered on talking heads with the most pronounced regional accents, but any regular viewer of CNN’s “The Lead” can tell you that Tapper regularly adds six or seven extra vowels to any word graced with a long O or a short A.

Although the distinctive regional accent seems to have faded in recent years, writer Daniel Nester defined it best for the New York Times:

No vowel escapes diphthongery, no hard consonant is safe from a mid-palate dent. Extra syllables pile up so as to avoid inconvenient tongue contact or mouth closure. If you forget to listen closely, the Philadelphia, or Filelfia, accent may sound like mumbled Mandarin without the tonal shifts.

It doesn’t have the intellectual associations of an English accent or the musical roll of, say, an Italian accent. Let’s be real. The Philly accent is not pretty. It’s the hardscrabble mush mouth of largely working class city. That’s it’s charm.

And it sounds like Philly native Tapper has practice flattening the extraneous Y’s and O’s out of his speech during his tenure at Dartmouth and his time in D.C. He also manages to mirror that clipped, neutered accent to which all news anchors, national and local, aspire. But every once in awhile, he gets tripped up on a word that exposes him as a South Philly kid who takes the orange line down to the stadium for an Iggles game.

Perhaps it’s because he’s back in his old stomping grounds, but this 2016 clip of Tapper reporting in front of cheesesteak stand Geno’s features a triple Philly whammy in the intro. He really leans into that long O at the end of Geno’s. “I’m heeeyre at Genooooyyoo’s steaks,” Tapper said, “In South Philadelphia, at 9th and Pahhhsyunk [Passyunk Ave].”

The only way this could get more Philly is if the Phanatic rode by on his ATV and high-fived Tapper before he whipped a battery at Santa Claus.

My favorite instance of Tapper’s hoagie mouth happens every weekday when he announces the “national lead” segment of “The Lead.” Or as he says it, “the nayyyyyshunal lead.” As if to say, yeah, I’m an Ivy League-educated journalist, but I’m also the kind of guy who will park my car on that median in the middle of Broad Street.

Tapper can’t introduce that segment without sounding like the guy by the burning barrel in the Italian Market who tosses an orange to Rocky Balboa during the training montage from the first movie.

I look forward to it every time I’m home to watch the show. In fact, it’s probably my favorite part outside of all the times he hands a guest their ass whenever they tap dance into “The Lead” thinking they are going to deflect pointed questions with vague talking points. The fact that he regularly takes down various surrogates with pronounced hoagie mouth is just the cherry on the wooder ice.

And when that guest is Conway, then the two accents meet to form a devastating hoagie mouth vortex that causes both Daryl Hall and John Oates to do a simultaneous Jedi flinch. It’s scientific. Don’t question me.

[screen shot: CNN]