Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has accused the news media of putting the quest
for profits ahead of the quest for truth. In a speech to the National Conference
for Media Reform in Minneapolis Saturday, Rather recalled that at one time networks
could turn out quality news because of their powerful owners. "In a news organization
with an owner who has guts, there is an incentive to ask the tough questions, and
there is an incentive to pull together the facts -- to connect the dots -- in a way
that makes coherent sense to the news audience," Rather said. These days, however,
it is rare to find a corporate owner in the media who can say "The buck stops here."
Instead, he added, "the more likely motto no is: 'The news stops ... with making
bucks.'" The result, he added is that "in the current model of corporate news ownership,
the incentive to produce good and valuable news is simply not there." As for former
White House press secretary Scott McClellan's claim in a new book that the news media
became "complicit enablers" in the war in Iraq, Rather said that whatever McClellan's motive
was in writing the book, "he's right."