Dan Rather sounded an alarm about President Donald Trump and his administration’s relationship with the press during an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”
The longtime CBS News anchor has become a social media sage in recent months, sharing his experience in the media business to help younger readers put the Trump campaign and administration into perspective.
“No, I haven’t seen anything like it, and neither has anybody else,” Rather told host Jimmy Fallon. “We’ve never had anything approaching this.”
He urged reporters to remain focused on the White House in the face of attacks by administration officials, including the president himself, and their supporters on social media.
“Stay steady, stay respectful,” Rather said. “But also, be relentless and remain aggressive. That’s the proper role of the press.”
Rather appeared troubled by a challenge issued by Trump’s chief strategist, who described journalists as “the opposition party” and urged the media to “keep its mouth shut.”
“Steve Bannon recently said, almost directly, ‘the press needs to shut up,'” Rather said. “Well, our answer to that has to be, ‘With respect, sir, no, we’re not going to shut up. Now answer the damn question.'”
Rather said Trump’s ban on travelers from some majority-Muslim nations damaged the United States’ reputation and provided “fuel to our enemies,” but he urged Americans to resist.
“Don’t get afraid, don’t be scared — that’s the natural inclination,” Rather said. “Organize and get to the polls, try to find common ground. That’s the way we come together.”