Famed journalist Dan Rather on Monday blasted White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s “outrageous performance” on Saturday, arguing the Trump administration's obsession with crowd sizes is an almost-“Nixonian moment.”
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Mathews, Rather scolded the president’s “trash the press strategy,” calling out Trump for using his speech at the CIA on Saturday to berate the media for what he perceives as unfair coverage of the size of his inauguration crowds.
Rather said Donald Trump’s “inappropriate” speech at the CIA was “followed up by the very unfortunate—I would say outrageous—performance of the new press secretary Sean Spicer coming out, delivering what can only be classified as a lie, and then moving out of the room.”
“He didn’t even have the guts to answer questions,” Rather added.
The celebrated reporter, who was part of the team that exposed former President Richard Nixon’s connection to the Watergate scandal, said while Spicer managed to host a substantive press conference Monday, the administration had a “Nixonian moment, if you will, when it gets back to this obsession with the size of the crowd for the inauguration.”
Rather noted “we have enormous problems in this country,” adding Spicer’s statement to the press Saturday served to “undercut the Trump presidency.”
Discussing Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s widely-mocked insistence that the Trump administration is relying on “alternative facts,” Rather insisted, “none of us can go into this world with alternative facts.”
“Two plus two equals four, that’s a fact,” Rather declared, later adding, “This idea of alternative facts, this is a propaganda tool.”
“Facts and the truth—or as close as humanly possible to get to the truth—are at the very foundation of our democracy and dealing with an informed citizenry,” Rather said.
He added that journalists must be “oak and iron” when Trump “changes his tune, lies.”
“What Donald Trump has succeeded in doing, in many ways—in his own mind he thinks he’s succeeded tremendously—is to intimidate the press,” Rather argued. “And many of these things are designed to to intimidate the press. And this is gut-check time for the press, not to be intimidated.”
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