Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday morning, legendary newsman Dan Rather took a few shots at the political coverage of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, accusing reporters of failing to ask follow-up questions and their bosses of essentially partnering with him to boost their ratings.
“So many journalists have had to recalibrate their expectations and their understanding of politics,” host Brian Stelter asked. “What has disappointed you in the media coverage of this [Trump’s] campaign?”
“What has disappointed me most is the lack of tough questions and the tough follow-up questions,” replied Rather.
Pressed by Stelter, “You don’t think he’s been asked tough questions?” Rather said reporters let Trump slide around giving direct answers.
“Well, he handles tough questions by doing the old side shuffle most of the time. And with rare exceptions — I give Jake Tapper credit here on CNN — with rare exceptions, nobody bores in and keeps asking the tough question,” the former 60 Minutes host stated. “The other thing that’s disappointed me a bit, and I do think there’s been some media complicity in the rise of Trump. It’s not the only factor, but it has been a factor in providing him so much airtime, and in some cases being complicit in arranging that airtime.”
“For the news viewer, for the consumer of news, I think never more has it been necessary to deal with skepticism. Not cynicism, never cynicism but skepticism,” he continued. “Skepticism, saying ‘OK, Trump is on for an hour and a half on this network. Why is he there?’ The answer, of course, is because he’s very good for ratings and very good for demographics.”
Asked by the CNN host if the networks should “have some sort of blackout” of Trump, Rather disagreed.
“No, I don’t agree with that at all. Certainly show him. But the control has to stay with the journalistic entity. What I worry about is in a way that the media is a political partner, a business partner of Donald Trump,” Rather explained. “The media wants the ratings. I don’t except myself from this criticism, by the way. Media wants the ratings. Trump delivers those ratings. So in a way, they’re business partners, where the role of the journalist is to be an adversary.”
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