by Matt Welch
In a development roughly as surprising as a jackrabbit hopping across a two-lane, the former CBS tone poet is back lamenting journalism's sorry decline, and asking for a presidential lifeline:
Dan Rather told an Aspen audience Tuesday that journalism has declined to such a point that it is time for the government to intervene.
Appearing at the Greenwald Pavilion as part of the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series, Rather said "traditional journalism is under siege" and called for media reform to become an "immediate national priority."
"A democracy and free people cannot thrive without a fiercely independent press," he said.
Rather suggested that President Obama establish a commission on public media and independent reporting. "I'm throwing it out there for what it's worth," he said.
Yeah, not worth much, Dan, starting with the phrases "President Obama establish" and "independent reporting" being uttered in the same sentence. Though as bad as that idea is, it's arguably better than the Ratherian science on display here:
Likening media consolidation to that of the banking industry, Rather claimed that "roughly 80 percent" of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations.
For a more accurate assessment of media consolidation (even though it's more than five years old), check out the frequency of Ben Compaine's Reason piece "Domination Fantasies: Does Rupert Murdoch control the media? Does anyone?" And for more on Rather's woe-is-media crocodile tears, here's my 2004 obit for Diamond Dan's interesting career. Excerpt:
[H]e was one of journalism's all-time great self-flagellators, always eager to confess blame for the declining standards of the trade, always making sure to spread that blame out nice and thick on the rest of us...and always showing up on time to collect his seven-figure paycheck.