Not a Joke: Dan Rather on ‘Reliable Sources’ Slamming Trump’s ‘Fantasy Land’

If someone told you that disgraced journalist Dan Rather appeared on a show called “Reliable Sources” to excoriate President for living in a “fantasy land” and to give career advice to a young anti-gun advocate, you might think they were reading an article from the popular satirical news site The Onion. But it wasn’t a joke! It actually happened on CNN on Sunday.

Host Brian Stelter began the show the way he almost always does: by whining about Trump and questioning his mental fitness. “We've got to provide the proper context for these ridiculous quotes that are out there. Even if President Trump prefers to live in a fantasyland, journalists have to at least try to help him see the reality,” he declared just before introducing Rather. “Joining me now is Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Stelter failed to remind his audience that the reason Rather was the “former anchor of the CBS Evening News,” was because he rode a fake news story about President George W. Bush to the destruction of his career and the network’s credibility. And it’s something he still defends to this day. But that didn’t stop Stelter from asking, “as someone who has been covering presidents for decades, have you seen this kind of fantasy land thinking or behavior before?

No. We've certainly seen behavior we didn't like in presidents but we’ve never seen anything like this. This is new and I do think that most people get it,” Rather argued. “That most people understand that they're facing, on a daily basis from the White House and from the President himself, the rough equivalent you're facing a fertilizer spreader in a windstorm.

Donald Trump, in his mind, you can argue he's delusional,” Rather added, harkening back to Stelter’s broader theme.

 

 

Stelter probed Rather on the importance of journalists actively standing up to Trump. According to the failed anchorman, the reputation of the nation was at stake if they didn’t:

Not only do I think it's useful, I think it's imperative now more than ever is when the press needs to be a kind of truth squad for this and every other president. It's perhaps more important with President Trump because there are more untruths so to set record straight. But if journalists cower, as many in Congress both some Democrats and Republicans in Congress cower with the NRA, if journalists cower, then how long can we sing we're the home of the brave?

And if that ironic comedy wasn’t enough, later on in the program Stelter brought on David Hogg, a student from Parkland, Florida, radical anti-gun activist and aspiring journalist. After Hogg was done smearing the NRA and Spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who he claimed was the “CEO” of the organization and the owner congressmen, the CNN host looked to Rather to give the young man some career advice.

Writing is the bedrock of the craft. If you want to do anything in journalism, learn to write and dedicate yourself to a lifetime of improving your writing,” Rather explained. “I can't guarantee you'll be famous and make a lot of money but you can have a very satisfying career if you concentrate on writing.” Stelter chimed in and noted writing was equally important for being a political activist.

None of them talked about how important it was for a journalist to be objective and not spread false information and smears about the people you cover and/or your political opponents.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click expand to read:

 

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CNN
Reliable Sources
February 25, 2018
11:05:36 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: We've got to provide the proper context for these ridiculous quotes that are out there. Even if President Trump prefers to live in a fantasyland, journalists have to at least try to help him see the reality. Joining me now is Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News. He currently anchors The News with Dan Rather on The Young Turks streaming network.

(…)

11:08:28 AM Eastern

STELTER: Dan Rather, as someone who has been covering presidents for decades, have you seen this kind of fantasyland thinking or behavior before?

DAN RATHER: No. We've certainly seen behavior we didn't like in presidents but we’ve never seen anything like this. This is new and I do think that most people get it. That most people understand that they're facing, on a daily basis from the White House and from the President himself, the rough equivalent you're facing a fertilizer spreader in a windstorm. And it is past the point of shock with the President. That Donald Trump, in his mind, you can argue he's delusional. He thinks he’s triumphant.

(…)

STELTER: He's been between 30 and 40. CNN had him at 40 percent last month, now back to 35, Gallup has him at 37 right now. He's been in the same range for a while. But you say we're beyond shock at this point. Do you think there's less use in journalists trying to check the false claims?

RATHER: Not only do I think it's useful, I think it's imperative now more than ever is when the press needs to be a kind of truth squad for this and every other president. It's perhaps more important with President Trump because there are more untruths so to set record straight. But if journalists cower, as many in Congress both some Democrats and Republicans in Congress cower with the NRA, if journalists cower, then how long can we sing we're the home of the brave?

(…)

11:25:03 AM Eastern

STELTER: Anything you want to know from Dan Rather?

DAVID HOGG: Got any advice?

RATHER: Write is the bedrock of the craft. If you want to do anything in journalism, learn to write and dedicate yourself to a lifetime of improving your writing. I can't guarantee you'll be famous and make a lot of money but you can have a very satisfying career if you concentrate on writing.

STELTER: That would apply to activism as well, right? To giving a political speech, work working on honing the writing.

RATHER: Exactly. The best politicians are those who write their own speeches. John Kennedy, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan to a degree.

(…)


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