Dan Rather Criticizes the Press for Its Trump Coverage

January 3rd 2017

Michelle Betters

In a January 1st interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal Gerard Baker cautioned against describing Donald Trump’s most controversial — and arguably false — statements as lies.

On Monday, journalist Dan Rather posted a heated response to his Facebook page.

Dan Rather

“A lie, is a lie, is a lie,” he wrote, calling Baker’s opinion “deeply disturbing.”

Baker’s initial statement responded to what Todd called “the issue of facts.” “ If somebody says just an outright falsehood,” he asked, “do you say the word, "lie"?” According to Baker, journalists should be careful about using this word, because it implies “a deliberate intent to mislead.” Not only is this intention unprovable, but “ascribing a moral intent” also makes a publication look biased.

Instead, reporters should investigate all of Trump’s claims, gather evidence, and publish their findings. “I think it's then up to the reader to make up their own mind,” Baker explains. For example, in 2015, Trump said that Muslims celebrated 9/11 from New Jersey rooftops, but the Journal found no evidence to prove this was true.


Throughout the Trump administration, Baker concludes, journalists should report on the President-elect’s “challengeable” and “questionable” claims objectively.

While Baker argues for maintaining the Wall Street Journal’s fairness, Rather claims it’s a journalist’s responsibility to “call it as we see it.”

“When something is, in fact, a demonstrable lie,” he explains, “it is our responsibility to say so.” In other words, the press should make the truth accessible to its readers or viewers, which might mean reporting what Rather describes as “information that the powerful don't want you to know.”

In Rather’s opinion, instead of softening the blow with euphemisms or indirect terms, journalists should strive to expose lies, especially if they’re uttered by the President of the United States.

Read Rather's full response below.