Following the United States airstrike on a Syrian airfield in response to the Syrian regime’s chemical attack, former CBS news anchor Dan Rather wrote a short essay decrying the journalistic tradition of cheerleading military actions and failing to ask the “hard questions.”
On Sunday, Rather appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources to talk about his comments and the role of the media when it comes to covering the theater of war. Right off the bat, the legendary newsman took umbrage with a number of news personalities labeling the missile strikes as “presidential.”
“Because the president exerts himself as commander in chief,” Rather said. “There’s a natural inclination and an unhealthy one to say, boy, that makes him presidential, that makes him or strong. It’s easy to drop bombs and easy to put missiles off.”
Noting that he was critical of those who called Trump “presidential” for the Syrian action, Rather explained that he “respectfully” disagrees with that thought.
“What makes one presidential is can you keep the peace,” he added.
Asked by host Brian Stelter if there is a “natural tendency” for journalists to rally around the flag and if it’s detrimental, Rather stated that there is that propensity in the press and reporters should fight it.
“Rallying around the flag doesn’t mean rallying around a military strike,” the ex-anchor told Stelter. “Rallying around the flag is ‘What’s best for the country?’ What’s best for the country is for journalists to be skeptical, not cynical, but skeptical and ask the questions.”
Watch the clip above, via CNN.