Dan Rather Calls for White House to Save Journalism from Financial Hardship

As if the relationship between the Obama Administration and the news media weren't cozy enough already, former "CBS Evening News" anchor Dan Rather is calling on President Obama to "make recommendations" for the media on how to survive the economic downturn. 

Rather spoke at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colo. on July 28 and addressed challenges to the news industry, which he described as challenges to the "very survival of American democracy," and insisted the president should step in.

"I personally encourage the president to establish a White House commission on public media," Rather said, according to the July 29 Aspen Daily News.

According to the story, Rather said "corporate and political influence" on newsrooms had damaged the industry and was cause for concern.

"A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom," Rather said in an interview. "This is not something just for journalists to be concerned about, and the loss of jobs and the loss of newspapers, and the diminution of the American press' traditional role of being the watchdog on power. This is something every citizen should be concerned about."

Rather, who retired as "Evening News" anchor and did not have his contract renewed by the network after a 2004 controversy in which he used allegedly false documents that in a report to discredit former President George W. Bush, reasoned that a commission on media reform would make recommendations on saving journalism jobs and creating new business models to keep news organizations alive.

Rather is now employed by HDNet - a television network described as a "high-definition" network. He has previously faulted corporate influences and the lack of public awareness for his ultimate downfall at CBS News and for the current media climate.