Dan Rather, the famed former CBS Nightly News anchor, had words of encouragement for reporters standing up to Donald Trump's bullying: "Never let them scare you."
"Trump's brand of vituperation is particularly personal and vicious. It carries with it the drumbeats of threatening violence. It cannot be left unanswered," Rather wrote in a Facebook post.
The presumptive Republican nominee lambasted reporters at a press conference Tuesday for trying to probe into his donations to veterans groups, responding to a Washington Post report that found his January charity event – which Trump claimed raised more than $6 million in donations for veterans charities – had come up short.
"The press should be ashamed of themselves," Trump said, calling one reporter a "sleaze" and adding that members of the political press are "among the most dishonest people" he has ever met.
"I'm the only one in the world who can raise almost $6 million for the veterans, have uniform applause by the veterans groups, and end up being criticized by press," he said.
Rather encouraged reporters to continue with their jobs in his Facebook post:
Rather has had his own run-ins with "good" and "bad" journalism
Rather's plea for "good" reporting comes with a twinge of irony. Rather is known for many things: his iconic nightly news broadcasts on CBS, his scuffle with George H.W. Bush over questions on the Iran-Contra affair, and his role hosting 60 Minutes – a position that continues to mire his name in media scandal.
Twelve years ago, what was meant to be his career-defining investigative break, uncovering documents that proved former President George W. Bush had skirted the Vietnam War draft, turned out to be a likely false story based in unsubstantiated evidence. The documents were found to be forgeries, and Rather had to apologize for the poor reporting and retract the story. It was the subject of a 2015 film called Truth, which received mixed reviews.
The report came just months before Bush's reelection, and the controversy was quickly pegged as the liberal media's foiled attempt to sway the 2004 presidential election. While unable to verify the documents, Rather continued to stand behind the story – a part of his journalistic career that continues to shadow him and brings added context to his advice not to "back down."
But Rather is right that the media is an easy shot – and one Trump likes to take
Much of Trump's campaign has focused on berating journalists — most notably Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who asked Trump a question he felt was "unfair," and Michelle Fields, at whom Trump launched a full-throttle personal attack after she claimed his campaign manager had physically assaulted her.
After an interview with Trump last week, reporter Michael Wolff wrote for the Hollywood Reporter that Trump simply sticks with what he knows: talking about himself and attacking the media.
"If there's any pattern to his conversation, it's that he's vague on all subjects outside himself, his campaign and the media. Everything else is mere distraction," Wolff wrote.
The strategy has garnered a lot of attention for Trump, and brought higher ratings, which he is proud of.
But after all, it was Rather who once said, "Ratings don't last; only good journalism does."