In a Facebook post shared more than 13,000 times as of early Wednesday evening, Rather laid into Trump for dismissing American intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Stunned disbelief. Anxiety. A mounting sense of betrayal,” Rather began his Facebook post. “These are the smoke signals rising from those in and around the United States intelligence community over President-elect Donald Trump’s dismissal of the evidence of Russian hacking in the presidential election.”
Rather was responding to Trump’s Wednesday morning tweets citing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s contention that a teenager could have conducted the hacks. Assange’s online platform published the DNC leaks shortly before the election.
The president-elect also blamed the DNC for not taking the Republican National Committee’s cyber protection measures, even though intelligence agencies reportedly believe the RNC was also hacked, but the hacker chose not to release any findings.
Trump, who has agreed to hear an intelligence briefing about the incident, the previous evening put “intelligence” in scare quotes when announcing that the meeting had been delayed on Twitter.
Rather conceded that the U.S. intelligence community has made grave errors in the past and that its findings have at times been politicized. But he took Trump to task for denigrating the integrity of United States intelligence officers.
“We need a robust intelligence force now more than ever. This is a matter of national security. It affects all Americans, and people around the world,” he concluded. “Hopefully patriots within Mr. Trump’s own party and in his inner circle will step up and tell the incoming president how dangerous this rhetoric is.”
Rather, a giant of broadcast journalism who hosted “CBS Evening News” from 1981 to 2005, currently has an interview show on the cable channel AXS TV.
Rather’s Facebook posts about Trump have turned him into a viral sensation. A post-election message encouraging Americans to “stay vigilant” against authoritarianism was shared more than 143,000 times, and another popular post in June inveighing against Trump’s attacks on the press has been shared by over 86,000 people.
The 85-year-old Rather’s Facebook page has nearly 1 million likes.