Legendary CBS newsman Dan Rather lit into the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief for saying he was reluctant to call out obvious lies by Donald Trump by saying one had to consider the president-elect’s “moral intent.”
On Sunday’s Meet The Press, WSJ’s Gerard Baker was asked about Trump’s penchant to blurt or tweet things off the top of his head that have no basis in reality. According to the Baker, calling those things a “lie” would be going too far.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie.’” Baker said. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead…I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective.”
On Facebook, Rather blasted Baker by opening with “A lie, is a lie, is a lie.”
“Journalism, as I was taught it, is a process of getting as close to some valid version of the truth as is humanly possible. And one of my definitions of news is information that the powerful don’t want you to know,” Rather wrote.
“It is not the proper role of journalists to meet lies—especially from someone of Mr. Trump’s stature and power—by hiding behind semantics and euphemisms. Our role is to call it as we see it, based on solid reporting. When something is, in fact, a demonstrable lie, it is our responsibility to say so,” he continued. “As I have said before and will say as long as people are willing to listen, this is a gut check moment for the press. We are being confronted by versions of what are claimed to be ‘the truth’ that resemble something spewed out by a fertilizer-spreader in a wind tunnel. And there is every indication that this will only continue in the Tweets and statements of the man who will now hold forth from behind the Great Seal of the President of the United States.”
Rather concluded by warning news consumers, “You as the paying, subscribing public, can use your leverage and pocketbooks to keep those who should be honest brokers of information, well, honest. ”