Dan Rather Deflects Criticism of CNBC Debate, Blames GOP Instead

During an appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday, disgraced CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather did his best to excuse the criticism of CNBC’s Republican presidential debate and instead chose to blame Republicans for fueling such hatred towards the press.

While Rather briefly admitted that CNBC “didn’t do it perfectly” the liberal journalist quickly blamed the GOP presidential candidates whose “constituency loves attacks on the press. So the moderators open themselves to some criticism.”

Rather continued to dismiss the substance of the criticism against CNBC’s biased debate and argued that it was just a made up issue by conservatives: 

It's a very tough role to be there and I see this as strictly optics. By the time we get to the snow season of the primaries a lot, lot of this will be forgotten. It doesn't amount to very much. Right now it's a headline everyone wants to talk about. Of course, you have to talk about it. But in the great scheme of things it's not going to matter very much. 

The former CBS anchor furthered his defense of the CNBC moderators and claimed that outside of the “ideological and partisan” individuals, “the public at large, I think they understand that moderators are doing the best they can.” The ex-CBS anchor continued to sound like a liberal talking head and repeated his claim that all of the criticism against CNBC was aimed at ginning up the Republican base: 

But I think most people understand it's part of the political game that particularly with those on the right side of the political spectrum, they're going to attack the press because a large part of their constituency likes it and that's what this is about.

By and large, voters job is to separate bull shine from brass tax. And by and large that's what the press does. And when they do it it's easy to hang a sign around somebody's neck, he’s liberal or he’s a Socialist or he’s Democratic Party or a Communist, and there's a certain part of the public that’s going to believe that.  

Nowhere during his anti-GOP rant did host Brian Stelter bother to push against Rather’s accusations and instead allowed him to assert that the GOPers on stage would prefer to accuse the CNBC moderators of being biased instead of simply answering the questions: 

But the way the game is played is if you don’t like the question, if you think the question is too hard to hang a sign around someone with an unattractive label and make that the issue whether than how the politician answered the question or didn't answer the question. 

See relevant transcript below. 

CNN’s Reliable Sources

November 1, 2015

BRIAN STELTER: You've been on those stages so many times as the moderator so how would you review the moderators of CNBC’s debate? 

DAN RATHER: Look, they didn't do it perfectly. It wasn't their best night. But I think we have to see clearly what's at play here. That candidates on the right side of the spectrum, a large part of their constituency loves attacks on the press. So the moderators open themselves to some criticism. It's a very tough role to be there and I see this as strictly optics. By the time we get to the snow season of the primaries a lot, lot of this will be forgotten. It doesn't amount to very much. Right now it's a headline everyone wants to talk about. Of course, you have to talk about it. But in the great scheme of things it's not going to matter very much. 

STELTER: In all the debates you moderated, did you ever have one of these "Not your best nights"? 

RATHER: Sure. 

STELTER: What did you do afterwards? 

RATHER: Criticize myself. Talked about what should have been, could have been, should have been. Did you play it over in your own mind? But I do think the public, at large, we’re not talking about the ideological and partisan, but the public at large, I think they understand that moderators are doing the best they can. You know, there used to be these signs in the old Texas cattle towns that said please don't shoot the piano player, he's doing the best that he can. And that’s the attitude I think most of the public takes towards the moderators. But it's easy to jump on mistakes and lack of follow up and all the criticism that's been made.

But I think most people understand it's part of the political game that particularly with those on the right side of the political spectrum, they're going to attack the press because a large part of their constituency likes it and that's what this is about. By in large, voters job is to separate bull shine from brass tax. And by in large that's what the press does. And when they do it it's easy to hang a sign around somebody's neck, he’s liberal or he’s a Socialist or he’s Democratic Party or a Communist, and there's a certain part of the public that’s going to believe that.

However, my experience has taught me that the public at large understands that that’s not the case. That if you ask me on issue by issue where I stand I’d be happy to say I'm for clean air and water. I'm for strong national defense. I'm for tight money. Whatever that makes me that makes me. But the way the game is played is if you don’t like the question, if you think the question is too hard to hang a sign around someone with an unattractive label and make that the issue whether than how the politician answered the question or didn't answer the question. 

STELTER: So then how do we change the game? If that’s the game how do we make it less fun to play, less rewarding to play? 

RATHER: I'm not sure. If you find the answer to that question call me collect. But I think what would help is for those of us in journalism, and I include myself in this, just be steady. 

STELTER: Steady?

RATHER: Steady. Look, if you're going to play the game at our near the top, eventually, one way or the other you're going to face the furnace and take the heat.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates CNBC CNN Reliable Sources Dan Rather Brian Stelter

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