ACTION ALERT: War Is Not Entertainment: Dropping Bombs Does Not Make You Presidential
May 4, 2017
Jackie Wattles / CNN & Win Without War
Noting that Donald Trump has received unwarranted applause for authorizing missile strikes in Syria and dropping a powerful bomb on an ISIS camp in Afghanistan, former CBS anchor Dan Rather schooled his colleagues in the media that: "Dropping bombs, having missile strikes, doesn't make one presidential." Tell CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream, corporate media: Stop treating war like entertainment and responsibly report on US military action.
Dan Rather to Trump:
Dropping Bombs Does Not Make You Presidential
Jackie Wattles / CNN
(April 16, 2017) -- Former CBS anchor Dan Rather says it's too soon to be praising President Trump for acting "presidential."
Rather said Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that Trump is receiving unwarranted applause for his recent military actions, such as authorizing missile strikes in Syria and dropping a powerful bomb on an ISIS camp in Afghanistan.
He has in recent days criticized members of the press he says "lauded" Trump's actions.
"Dropping bombs, having missile strikes, doesn't make one presidential," Rather said.
Instead, Rather said Trump should be judged on his ability to "keep the peace." He described countries like North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Yemen as "flashpoints" that are "real powder kegs with a real short fuse burning."
Rather warned journalists to not allow stories about military strikes to distract from other issues. He said the action in Syria took attention away from stories about Russia's influence on the election, whether it was intended to do so or not.
"Journalists have a tendency to rally around powder kegs. What's best for the country is for journalists to be skeptical," he said. "Not cynical, but skeptical."
Rather was the anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News" for more than two decades. He now hosts an interview series on AXS TV and runs a production company.
In the interview, Rather acknowledged his own shortcomings, saying that he did not ask "enough of the right questions" before the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. Other prominent journalists have expressed similar regrets.
"I think we need to remind ourselves of that today," Rather said.
It's not the first time Rather has weighed in on the media's coverage of Trump.
Rather has used Facebook (FB, Tech30) as a platform to criticize the way some outlets report on Trump's false statements. During the campaign, he also challenged reporters to not cover Trump like a "normal" presidential nominee.
ACTION ALERT: War Is Not Entertainment:
Tell the Corporate Media to Stop Glorifying War
Stephen Miles / Win Without War
When I heard Fareed Zakaria on CNN say that launching 59 tomahawk missiles into Syria was the moment Trump "became President," I nearly threw my TV across the room. 
When Brian Williams quoted Leonard Cohen for MSNBC's viewers, talking about the "beauty of our weapons," I realized we had a real problem on our hands. 
And when Geraldo Rivera said that watching America drop bombs was "one of my favorite things in the 16 years I've been here at Fox News," I decided it was time to fight back. 
War is not entertainment and waging it does not make you presidential. But the media is glorifying Donald Trump's warmaking, and it's time we make them stop.
When US presidents order military action, the American people need and deserve a strong, vibrant, and independent news media, one that not only challenges the assumptions that lead us to war, but also one that holds our leaders accountable for the way in which they are conducted.
When President Trump illegally launched military strikes on Syria, and later, when the US military dropped one of the largest conventional weapons in its arsenal on a target in Afghanistan, we witnessed some of the most irresponsible and reckless coverage from the corporate media  since they helped President Bush launch the Iraq war.
War is not beautiful and it's not entertainment. It's incredibly irresponsible for reporters to glorify it or, in the case of the MOAB attack in Afghanistan, use it to encourage a trigger-happy Trump to escalate tensions with North Korea. 
The American media cheered President Bush to war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 to disastrous effect. And now, particularly with President Trump in the Oval Office, we cannot afford another complacent media leading us to more war.
It took us years of demanding the media change its ways before they started reporting more responsibly on Iraq, helping shift public opinion against that disastrous war. This time, we have to demand change now, before it's too late.
"Dropping bombs, having missile strikes, doesn't make one presidential," said veteran reporter Dan Rather, referring to the media's fawning of Trump's action in Syria. "Journalists have a tendency to rally around powder kegs. What's best for the country is for journalists to be skeptical. Not cynical, but skeptical." 
We couldn't agree more.
ACTION: Tell CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream, corporate media: Stop treating war like entertainment and responsibly report on US military action. Click here to sign the petition. Click here to sign our petition launching a new campaign to demand the media stop treating war like entertainment.
Thank you for working for peace,
Stephen, Ben, Amy, Mariam and the Win Without War team
1. "CNN host: 'Donald Trump became president' last night" The Hill, April 7, 2017 http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327779-cnn-host-donald-trump-became-president-last-night
2. "Brian Williams is 'guided by the beauty of our weapons' in Syria strikes" The Washington Post, April 7, 2017 www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/04/07/beautiful-brian-williams-says-of-syria-missile-strike-proceeds-to-quote-leonard-cohen/
3. "Geraldo Rivera: 'One Of My Favorite Things' At Fox News 'Is Watching Bombs Drop On Bad Guys'" Media Matters for America, April 14, 2017 https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/04/14/geraldo-rivera-one-my-favorite-things-fox-news-watching-bombs-drop-bad-guys/216032
4. "Media Praise Trump For Ordering Missile Attack On Syrian Airbase" Media Matters for America, April 7, 2017 https://mediamatters.org/research/2017/04/07/media-praise-trump-ordering-missile-attack-syrian-airbase/215956
5. "Punditry On Syrian Airstrikes Is Encouraging Trump To Escalate Tensions With North Korea" Media Matters for America, April 13, 2017 https://mediamatters.org/research/2017/04/13/punditry-syrian-airstrikes-encouraging-trump-escalate-tensions-north-korea/216023
6. "Dan Rather to Trump: Dropping bombs does not make you presidential" CNN, April 16, 2017 http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/16/media/dan-rather-donald-trump/
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