Dan Rather to the Media: "Be Relentless and Remain Aggressive" in Trump Era

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

The journalist spoke with 'The Tonight Show's' Jimmy Fallon about President Trump's relationship with the press.

Dan Rather's advice to journalists is to stand firm in the age of President Trump, who has called out news outlets for being "fake news" and has been seen ignoring questions in press conferences he'd rather avoid. 

Rather, who has been posting thoughtful essays on Facebook throughout the presidential campaign and now during the new Trump administration, sat down with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday's Tonight Show to discuss his show, The Big Interview, and his thoughts on the new president. 

Fallon, thanking him for being "the voice of reason" on social media, asked the former news anchor about Trump's relationship with the press. "Have you seen anything like it?"

"No, I haven't seen anything like it, and neither has anybody else," Rather responded. "We've never had anything approaching this." 

When asked to share his advice to the media covering Trump, Rather stressed: "Stay steady, stay respectful. But also, be relentless and remain aggressive. That's the proper role of the press." 

Rather added that he thinks the public, including those who voted for Trump, "understand that's a vital role." His adviser "Steve Bannon recently said, almost directly, 'the press needs to shut up.' Well, our answer to that has to be, 'With respect, sir, no, we're not going to shut up. Now answer the damn question.'" 

On Trump's immigrant ban, Rather told Fallon that he believes the ban "makes us look bad to the world" and "gives great fuel to our enemies." 

His message to the public in the Trump era: "Don't get afraid, don't be scared, that's the natural inclination. Organize and get to the polls," he said. "Try to find common ground. That's the way we come together." 

Watch the interview below.