Dan Rather to media: 'Be relentless and remain aggressive' with President Trump and Steve Bannon

Famed American journalist Dan Rather had a message on Thursday for media covering the Trump administration -- "be relentless and remain aggressive."

Rather -- who succeeded Walter Cronkite's role as anchor and Managing Editor of CBS Evening News -- appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday to talk social media, Steve Bannon and the new Trump administration.

Fallon lauded Rather as "the voice of reason on social media" in discussing the journalist's relatively frequent Facebook posts. Just last weekend, Rather penned a Facebook post in response to President Trump's immigration ban, saying, "Today I shed a tear for the country I know and love, the one I believe still beats in the heart of most of its citizens."

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Aside from Trump's controversial executive order, the president has also engaged in combating the media -- deeming outlet reports "FAKE NEWS" and even naming the fourth estate "the opposition party."

This, Rather says, is something completely unprecedented in American history.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Rather, "and neither has anybody else."

"The closest we've had was during the presidency of Richard Nixon -- but even then, the president did not so often, so openly and so personally assault and attack not just the press as an institution, but individual press members as well."

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White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been one of the more outspoken Trump advisers in attacking the media. In an interview with the New York Times, the former media professional told the paper that media "should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while."

It is Rather's belief that the media response to Bannon's call must be, "With respect sir, no, we're not going to shut up. Now answer the damn question."

Rather offered further advice to press core individuals, reminding them of their important role.

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"Stay steady, stay respectful, but also be relentless and remain aggressive -- that's the proper role of the press," said Rather. "Our role as part of the system of checks and balances, is to keep on asking tough questions and do deep-digging investigative reporting."

"I think the public -- including those who voted for Trump, by and large -- understand that that's a vital role. It doesn't help when the president is so negative about the press, but that's the way that it is."

Rather currently runs News and Guts, a multimedia production company with offices in New York, San Francisco, and Austin Texas.