Phil Donahue Tells Media to Get Tough: ‘Don’t Be So Sensitive’


Veteran talk show host and liberal icon Phil Donahue doled out some advice to journalists struggling to cover an adversarial presidency: toughen up.

Speaking with Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Donahue discussed how the press should respond to President Donald Trump’s criticism of the media and his administration’s moves to roll back access.

“There are a lot of people in the press who can’t take a punch,” Donahue said. “Maybe I couldn’t either, I don’t remember, but I think it’s important for you to be above this and keep doing what you’re doing.”

“You’re not supposed to be popular,” he continued. “You’re supposed to tell people often what they don’t want to hear. That’s your job and of course the problem is, if you’re not popular, you don’t get promoted in the news game and somebody else will have to feed your kids.

“It’s a tough dilemma for news.”

Ruhle then asked how the media is supposed to respond to the “KGB playbook” tactics Trump is engaging in, including deriding the press as “fake news.”

I think that the best way to handle this is to just keep working,” Donahue replied. “Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t look like you have a glass jaw.”

Ruhle asked him to clarify what was meant by “glass jaw,” and Donahue explained that it’s a boxing term, used to describe someone who can’t take a punch and “goes down with a left jab instead of a right cross.”

“I think the press has to be above that. All you can do is pray that the people you serve will understand this and appreciate the job that you’ve got,” he added.

Donahue’s comments come amidst the running ordeal over the White House communications shop’s moves to limit on-camera press briefings, as well as the administration’s hostile rhetoric aimed at the media, instigating staunch protest from the press corps.

[image via screengrab]

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin