DanRather050212Former CBS newsman Dan Rather is out with a new book, Rather Outspoken. He talked about it this evening in Manhattan.

In his remarks Mr. Rather lamented the “corporatization, politicization, and trivialization” of news in America, suggesting that an “independent press is the beating heart of freedom and democracy.”

Rather described as “scandalous” and “outrageous”, the fact that so few news organizations had constant coverage of the wars the U.S. is engaged in, chalking it up to ‘expense’ and ‘trouble’ — “who needs the trouble?”

He said that prior to 1982, network bosses, like Bill Paley of CBS, saw news as a “public service” rather than as a profit center, and suggested that any talk of “public interest”, today, would get a person “thrown into a mental hospital,” because of the heavy focus on profits and returns.

Commenting on a question about Osama Bin Laden, Mr. Rather said, “Bin Laden wanted the U.S. to overreact to 9/11 and spend itself into oblivion…”

Photograph: Stephen Wise