Dan Rather appeared on CNN Tonight on Friday. Host Don Lemon engaged the broadcaster in a discussion centered around who could be more outraged at the Trump presidency. Rather took the lead when he called the current administration “straight out of Orwell.”
Lemon asked “legendary newsman” Rather about his comparisons of Trump’s presidency and 1984, the dystopian book by George Orwell. Rather responded at length:
“Orwell, what he wrote it's practically a shooting script for Donald Trump. I'm not suggesting that Donald Trump read it. The evidence is he doesn't read very much. I don't think he's read Orwell. But the point being here there is a method to this, and the method is to convince people that the only truth is the truth that comes from me, the ultimate power. I'm the man with the ultimate power. And he has made some way in that -- as several people have said before me he's not just attacking the truths, he wants to annihilate the truth. He wants to move us completely into the post-truth political era in which there's no such thing as objective facts. He is the only fact. He has all the facts, he has all the information, just listen to him.”
Lemon did not challenge Rather on his points at all, despite the fact that they were calling Trump ‘Orwellian’ without being arrested by the thought police. He did ask Rather whether or not Americans could see through the “propaganda”:
“I have great confidence in the American people (Inaudible). Secondly, the polls indicate that let's remember that while Donald Trump has a solid base of support a majority of the Americans still indicate that they're very skeptical of him and in many cases can't stand him.”
President Trump’s approval rating has been trending up, however. And with the GDP reaching a growth of 4.1% last week, as well as the lowest unemployment rate since the early 2000’s, it seems that the only dystopia exists in Rather and Lemon’s heads.
Read the full transcript of the July 27th interview below:
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon
10:07:30 - 10:14 PM EST
DON LEMON: Now I want to bring in legendary newsman, Mr. Dan Rather, the host of AXS TV's the Big Interview. You always laugh when I do that. Thank you so much for joining us. I know that this -- you've been doing this for a while, let's say quite some time, but this bothers you greatly. Have you ever seen anything like this?
DAN RATHER: One, of course it bothers me as a citizen, how could it not bother me. And no, neither I, or anyone else has ever seen anything quite like this. We need to see this clearly. We begin with the truth is the currency of democracy. Without truth you don't have government, you don't have an informed electorate, you don't have a democracy. You don't have a constitutional republic based on the principle of democracy. You just can't do it. That's central. Now, Donald Trump has been very effective with a certain segment of the population. Surprising to me and I think there is a large segment of the population, roughly something over a third, running up to maybe 40 percent. I would say about the previous interview you did with David, that there are some signs that some of his base, women in the suburbs but according to polls are beginning to say we've had enough. We'll see whether it holds to the election. Just a footnote (Inaudible). Look, what's happening now Donald Trump is authoritarian. He wants people to believe that the only truth, the one and only truth comes from him. This is the hallmark historically with authoritarian regimes. And that when he says don't believe what you see and read, you know that old story.
LEMON: You compared it to Orwell and what you wrote, you said when he said, don't believe what you see or what you hear, that's not what's happening. You said it's like it's 1984. It's dystopian.
RATHER: Well, it is. It's straight out of Orwell. And Orwell, what he wrote it's practically a shooting script for Donald Trump. I'm not suggesting that Donald Trump read it. The evidence is he doesn't read very much. I don't think he's read Orwell. But the point being here there is a method to this, and the method is to convince people that the only truth is the truth that comes from me, the ultimate power. I'm the man with the ultimate power. And he has made some way in that -- as several people have said before me he's not just attacking the truths, he wants to annihilate the truth. He wants to move us completely into the post-truth political era in which there's no such thing as objective facts. He is the only fact. He has all the facts, he has all the information, just listen to him. That's what he's preaching and that's his presidency will rise and fall on that. I also agree that there is some desperation lately. I do think that the appearance of closing in the Mueller investigation, some of what's happening with his former counsel, Mr. Cohen, I think this is beginning to tell on him some. And that he gets more desperate. As he gets more desperate he takes bigger risks in telling bigger lies or more often telling lies, and telling people, look, don't believe what you read or see anywhere else, just come to me. I have the ultimate truth, I am the way.
LEMON: So I asked David, I said do his supporters not believe him or do they just not care. You say most Americans see through the propaganda. I hope you're right. Why do you say that?
RATHER: Well, first of all, that's my experience. I have great confidence in the American people (Inaudible). Secondly, the polls indicate that let's remember that while Donald Trump has a solid base of support a majority of the Americans still indicate that they're very skeptical of him and in many cases can't stand him.
LEMON: You -- but there was even when Nixon went through what he went through there were checks and balances in the Congress. But Washington, folks in the Capitol they're not holding him accountable.
RATHER: First of all, when Richard Nixon went through the widespread conspiracies, as we call it Watergate, there were profiles encourage Congress including Republican senators and congressmen who stood up and said there's more to it. Secondly, the institutions were holding much better, more firmly during the Watergate time as a check and balance. For example, both Houses of Congress eventually moved against Richard Nixon. The judiciary upheld what the special prosecutors at the time was thinking it will upheld giving the tape. If you compare that with today the profiles encouraged particularly among Republicans in the House and Senate so far have been very, very few and far between. That opens them to charges of being, quote, "gutless wonders."
LEMON: Yes. Did people believe the media then? Was there this distrust of the media as much?
RATHER: No, there was a great deal more trust in the media at the time partly because there were voices other of President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew who were made to resign in disgrace. But nonetheless, that all kinds of voices in the Republican party who supported the idea of a free and independent press saying, look, I don't like the press has but it's no good attacking him. And we -- there was a good deal of more trust. And by the way, what the press did during the Watergate time of course endured a great deal of more trust into press in the late 70s or 80s.
LEMON: I just hope the system isn't broken when you think about what's happening in Washington and the distrust in the media and then you see him, you know, the administration kicking out reporters or reprimanding them for asking questions. It's terrible.
RATHER: Well, it hangs in the balance. The reason I say that one interview (Inaudible) and profound about it. We're in a battle for the soul of the country.
RATHER: Donald Trump represents one way to perceive, and those who are appalled by what he's doing represent another. Some people in between. But make no mistake, all of the chips from the table here this is a battle for the soul of the country.
LEMON: We get back to you I think where we can agree on, you know, the whole thing about Putin and would or wouldn't and that's what I meant to say, as you said universal truths, he said what he said when he tried to fix it, but--
RATHER: Well, is the question do I think we can get back to then?
RATHER: I don't think we can get back to that during this presidency? I would love to be proven wrong.
LEMON: After this presidency?
RATHER: After this presidency a lot depends on how it goes in the next few months.
LEMON: Thank you, Mr. Rather.
RATHER: Thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate your time.
RATHER: Always glad to be with you.
LEMON: When we come back Donald Trump's tangled relationship with the truth goes way back. How he built his real estate empire on a foundation of lies and how he got away with it for so many years.