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."

RELATED: White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

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White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

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Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

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Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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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.

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