Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

CBS News, Dan Rather agree to cut ties

June 21, 2006

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— CBS News said Tuesday it is cutting ties to Dan Rather, concluding a messy professional divorce with the hard-charging anchor who had worked there for 44 years until things went sour over a story about the president's military service.

His departure before the November end of his contract is an acknowledgment that CBS News wants to leave the Rather era behind as it awaits the arrival of Katie Couric.

Rather, 74, has no intention of retiring. He is weighing an offer to do a weekly show at the tiny HDNet, a high-definition network offered on some cable and satellite systems.

"It just isn't in me to sit around doing nothing," he said.

In a tribute Tuesday on the broadcast he used to anchor, anchor Bob Schieffer said he didn't agree with Rather on everything but he shared a love for news.

"Dan Rather was one of the great reporters of his time," Schieffer said. "Good luck, Dan. All the best."

For more than two decades, Rather, NBC's Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings of ABC dominated television as the faces of the evening news and whenever big stories broke. The habit of anchors traveling to the scene of news stories is largely this Texan's legacy.

Yet CBS was last in the ratings and without a transition plan even before the ill-fated September 2004 story about President Bush's military service. Rather narrated the report, in the midst of the presidential campaign, which CBS later concluded after much criticism it could not substantiate.


Dan Rather anchors the CBS News election night coverage  in New York in this Nov. 2, 2004, file photo. Rather is leaving CBS after 44 years, the network announced Tuesday.

Dan Rather anchors the CBS News election night coverage in New York in this Nov. 2, 2004, file photo. Rather is leaving CBS after 44 years, the network announced Tuesday.

Six months later, on March 9, 2005, he signed off for the last time after 24 years as the "CBS Evening News" anchor. Rather contributed eight stories to "60 Minutes" this past season but he complained it wasn't enough work to satisfy him. He said CBS offered him a new contract with no assignments.

His exit, Rather said on Tuesday, represents CBS' acknowledgment that "after a protracted struggle ... they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there."

Sean McManus, who took over last fall as CBS News president, wouldn't discuss in an interview with The Associated Press the specifics of what CBS offered. He's been trying to push "60 Minutes" into a new era, with Couric and CNN's Anderson Cooper to begin doing stories in the fall.

"Basically, there wasn't a situation that we could come up with where there was enough meaningful work for Dan to do at CBS News that made sense for both him and us," he said. "I had to make the decision of what to do in that situation, and that was the decision I came up with."

The decision wasn't financial, McManus said.

CBS' send-off to Rather includes a prime-time special on his career that will air this fall, and a contribution to Rather's alma mater, Sam Houston State University. He said Rather deserves his spot in CBS News' history with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Rather may have been thinking of his predecessor in declining an ill-defined job. After retiring as anchor, Cronkite was given an office at CBS headquarters that he still maintains, but he often complained bitterly of having little to do and having retired too soon.

Besides the potential HDNet job, it is unclear what Rather will do. None of the other broadcast news or cable news networks have publicly expressed an interest in him.

Rather said last week that he had formed a company, News and Guts, for future journalism ventures.

Comments

xenophonschild 8 years, 10 months ago

You are a brave, courageous man Dan. You attempted to bring the sleaze and dubious background of The Present Occupant to light at a time when it might have saved us the agony of Iraq.

The fundies and trogs will howl and chatter at you, and journalism professors will hold you up to ridicule for a generation, but you tried to help us.

oldgranny 8 years, 10 months ago

Just one more victim of that disgrace in the White House that we call a president. Dan Rather is right up there with Edward R. Morrow as far as I'm concerned. A good man.

oldgranny 8 years, 10 months ago

Rightthinker I could care less what you think of me or my opinion. That disgrace we call a president plays on people's fears, he lies and he takes advantage of people's patriotism all in order to serve his own purposes. Not too unlike a dictator. I am alarmed by people like you who are to brainwashed and easily led to see it.

tell_it_like_it_is 8 years, 10 months ago

Dang Granny..you don't mince words do you? Good for you.

tell_it_like_it_is 8 years, 10 months ago

Its a shame that Dan's career was ruined over this. He should have been a lot more careful. Especially in dealing with idiots like the Bush/Chaney/ Rove machine. Still..I would better my bottom dollar that the story was true even if some of the paper work couldn't be substantiated.

hottruckinmama 8 years, 10 months ago

i grew up eating supper and watching the cbs evening news first with Walter Cronkite and then later with Dan Rather. it is a shame that this "disgrace that is in the white house" (i like your chioce of words granny!) brought about the end of that. i too would bet every word of it was the truth.

tell_it_like_it_is 8 years, 10 months ago

I still cannot figure out for the life of me how an ex college cheerleader (if thats not a girly man!) turned wanna be cowboy..can inspire this kind of following. He avoided going to war himself and then not only that but he trashed the record of those who did. And people let him get away with it! He is no better then some cheap con-man.

oldgranny 8 years, 10 months ago

Are you related to Fred Phelps rightthinker? You seem to be about of his caliber.

Redneckgal 8 years, 10 months ago

My My rightthinker is crabby tonight! I here the crabbin' is pretty good in Mexico. Did you catch some or what? Insult me buddy and your gonna get it right back at ya.

hottruckinmama 8 years, 10 months ago

never mind rightthinker..he is just a "little man" with a little mind and some other....shortcomings.

hottruckinmama 8 years, 10 months ago

i'm not denying that if you take on the big boys you better have your t's crossed and your i's dotted. in that way i do agree that he screwed up.

hottruckinmama 8 years, 10 months ago

i not denying that if you are going to take on the big boys you better have your t's crossed and your i's dotted. in not doing that i agree he screwed up big time.

hottruckinmama 8 years, 10 months ago

opps! thought it didn't go the first time.

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