Dan Rather has provided the latest installment of one of the American media’s favorite games: reporting on itself. According to The Huffington Post, Rather appeared on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, at which time he accused the media of being so desperate for ratings that they have essentially become both a “political partner” and a “business partner” to the 2016 Republican presumptive presidential nominee, New York City businessman and brand licensor Donald Trump.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) June 26, 2016
Dan Rather’s comments come on the heels of CNN hiring Donald Trump’s recently fired campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as a political commentator (otherwise known as a pundit). CNN was roundly criticized for this not just because Lewandowski was accused of battering a female reporter — former Breitbart News employee Michelle Fields — back in March (and video from security cameras and from multiple angles was later released that bolstered her claims that he grabbed her by the arm forcefully enough to leave a bruise and made her stumble), but because it is widely assumed that Lewandowski signed a non-disclosure agreement with a non-disparagement clause that will prevent him from saying anything negative about Donald Trump, therefore making it impossible for him to be an honest or fair political commentator.
— UPROXX (@UPROXX) June 27, 2016
Dan Rather clarified his point when pressed by Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter and stated that he doesn’t agree with those who think that there should be a complete media blackout when it comes to Donald Trump, or that news networks should not carry him live.
“No, well, I don’t agree with that at all. Certainly show him. But the control has to stay with the journalistic entity. That’s — what I worry about is, in a way, that the media is a political partner, a business partner, of Donald Trump. The media wants the ratings — I don’t exempt myself from this, by the way. The media wants the ratings; Trump delivers the ratings. So in a way they’re business partners, when the role of a journalist is to be an adversary. So I think the defense is: make an editorial judgment; make sure you offer the same to the other side. And yes, have him on live. I’m not sure you want to have him on live three times a day for an hour and a half at a time.”
Dan Rather and Brian Stelter went on to discuss what Rather described as “political tone” and whether it doesn’t just matter how much coverage Donald Trump is getting, but what kind of coverage — a question that many in the media have been grappling with since the 2016 Trump campaign began to pick up speed. Stelter argued that adversarial coverage rates well and remarked that any coverage of Donald Trump is going to draw eyeballs to the television screen regardless of what CNN says about him. This is, at least, a strong argument for media organizations to hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire — a financial incentive.
— Raw Story (@RawStory) June 26, 2016
Dan Rather suggested that supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, should be particularly concerned about losing the general election in November because of Donald Trump’s “media savvy,” or his ability to woo the national and international media into this complicity of mutual publicity and success.
Donald Trump, who has a background in television due to his NBC prime time reality series The Apprentice, certainly does purposely schedule events when he knows that ratings will be high. He also has a propensity to do phone interviews, or “phoners,” which some in the media have suggested he no longer be allowed to do because it gives him far too much control over the conversation.
What do you think? Is Dan Rather correct that the media is complicit in the rise of Donald Trump? Should the media put more restrictions on Trump and his campaign surrogates and take back some control over the coverage they receive?
[Image courtesy of Theo Wargo/Getty Images]