Dan Rather joined the chorus of voices denouncing comments made by Donald Trump on Tuesday, when the Republican candidate appeared to suggest that gun rights advocates might block Supreme Court appointees unsympathetic to their cause by shooting Hillary Clinton.
The veteran newsman took to Facebook to say that Trump’s statement about his Democratic rival had “crossed a line with dangerous potential” and reached “a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics.”
“This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament,” Rather wrote. “This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law.”
Rather, 84, anchored the CBS Evening News for nearly a quarter-century before stepping down in 2005 amid a controversy over an inaccurate “60 Minutes” report on George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War. He currently hosts an interview program on the cable network AXS TV.
Trump sparked the most recent in his long series of controversies at a campaign appearance in Wilmington, N.C., as he suggested that Clinton would nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would dismantle the right to bear arms.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said during the speech, adding, “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
After the comment provoked widespread criticism, the Trump campaign released a short statement about the “dishonest media” in which a Trump spokesman said that supporters of the Second Amendment were unified in voting for Trump, not Clinton.
But Rather said any attempt to “gloss . . . over” the statement was insufficient because “once the words are out there they cannot be taken back. That is what inciting violence means.”
He called out public figures who say they disagree with Trump’s controversial rhetoric, but maintain their support for his campaign.
“That is becoming woefully insufficient,” Rather wrote. “The rhetoric is the candidate.”
Rather also questioned whether the news media would sufficiently reflect the gravity of Trump’s off-the-cuff remark.
He closed by quoting a passage from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, in which the 16th president called upon all Americans to come together as friends, rather than allowing the passions of the moment to make enemies of them.
Below: Read Rather’s entire post.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.