The former CBS news anchor told The Daily Beast he believes the widely watched conservative cable network is “not that far off” from becoming “a state-run, state-sponsored, straight-up propaganda outlet” for the Trump White House.
And that, he said, is “something we have to worry about.”
“There are some good journalists working at Fox — Chris Wallace comes to mind ― but if you look at it on the whole, particularly their primetime programming, you have the beginnings of a state-run media,” Rather said.
“By any objective analysis, this is by far the closest we’ve come to Radio Moscow,” he added, referring to the official state-run international broadcasting station of the former Soviet Union. Radio Moscow spread pro-Soviet propaganda and fake news in multiple languages throughout the Cold War, muddying the waters in several countries around issues as serious and life-threatening as the AIDS epidemic.
Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham regularly stump for Trump on their respective shows. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer detailed the symbiotic relationship between Fox News and the Trump White House in a deeply researched essay published earlier this month.
A recent report noted that many Fox News viewers appear to subscribe to a badly misinformed version of reality that differs considerably from what even Republican non-Fox viewers believe.
Rather also issued a warning to people who think Trump will be an easy president to unseat in next year’s election.
“Trump is going to be hard to beat in 2020,” he said. “To those people I would say: burned once, don’t get burned twice. People underestimated Trump in the 2016 election, and I think he’s going to be a lot tougher to beat in 2020 than people think.”
Read Rather’s full interview with The Daily Beast here.