Dan Rather to Trump: Dropping bombs does not make you presidential

Dan Rather's concern about airstrike coverage
Dan Rather's concern about airstrike coverage

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."

Related: Trump is dialing back his economic promises. Bigly

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.

Related: Dan Rather: 'We are a deeply divided country'

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.

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