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CBS says buh-bye to Dan Rather


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Buh-bye Dan

From the Los Angeles Times

Adjusting to the ins and outs of the anchor chair

Dan Rather says he's ending his long run at CBS, although he had hoped for a new role.

By Matea Gold

Times Staff Writer

June 16, 2006

NEW YORK — His four-decade run at CBS was headed toward the finish line, but former anchor Dan Rather continued to press the network where he'd made his name to send him back into service on some big stories.

The longtime correspondent, known for his travels to hot spots around the world, said he had asked to go to the Gulf Coast last fall to cover Hurricane Katrina and to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to cover the conflicts there, but his requests were denied.

"They just said, 'Not interested,' " he said.

It now seems clear that even then CBS News officials were moving to distance themselves from Rather, the face of their news division for almost a quarter-century. Network sources said Thursday — and Rather confirmed — that final negotiations are underway for the former anchor to leave before his contract expires at the end of November, even though he had hoped to stay on in a new role.

"If it had it worked out for me to be an important contributor to CBS, I would have liked that," Rather said by phone. "The work has not turned out what I hoped it would be, and under those circumstances, the network executives decided that I should go onto the next step of my work."

The 74-year-old newsman said he doesn't view his departure with disappointment.

"My view of it is I'm a pro and it's a business and I'm focusing on the future," said Rather, who added that he is excited about other opportunities that he cannot discuss. "That's where my focus is. I tend to be an optimist by nature and by experience."

Still, those close to Rather say he has been dismayed and perplexed by the pressure for him to make an early exit.

"It's clear I have some difficulties with the current corporate management, but that's not unusual with reporters," he said.

The abrupt ending to his 44-year career at the network is widely seen as a painful conclusion for Rather, who stepped down as evening news anchor in March 2005 in the wake of criticism about a story he reported that raised questions about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.

An independent panel commissioned by CBS concluded that the piece, which aired on the now-defunct "60 Minutes Wednesday" in September 2004, was based on documents that could not be corroborated. In the fallout, four staffers lost their jobs. Some colleagues, including "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace, suggested Rather should have quit as well.

Instead, the veteran broadcaster returned to reporting. This season, Rather was relegated to being one of nine correspondents on "60 Minutes" while network officials worked to repair the damage caused by the controversy. Longtime Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer was brought on to serve as interim anchor of "CBS Evening News," and a slew of new executives were installed in the news division, which has been buoyed by recent ratings gains by the third-place broadcast.

With Katie Couric taking over for Schieffer this fall in a closely scrutinized move, CBS officials decided they want to signal a fresh start for the news division and concluded there was no longer an appropriate role for Rather, according to people close to the process.

News executives sought an amicable agreement with the former anchor and, in negotiations, stressed their respect for his contributions to CBS, which include 24 years at the helm of the evening broadcast. They've cast his departure not as punishment for the Bush story but as a move that will allow the network to showcase a new generation of correspondents. Along with Couric, CNN's Anderson Cooper is coming aboard this fall to do pieces for "60 Minutes," and producers are hoping the new faces — along with 35-year-old chief international correspondent Lara Logan — will attract younger viewers to CBS.

But Rather said he had more to contribute to the network that he first joined in 1962 as Dallas bureau chief.

"I think now as much or more than ever, Americans need hard-news reporting — particularly hard-news reporting about foreign affairs and how their government works," he said. "I'm committed to that. When my feet hit the floor every morning, I'm looking for a great story."

Rather said that he has had discussions to do work for other outlets but declined to elaborate, saying only, "There are things that interest me that I want to know more about."

If he had continued on at CBS, the veteran newsman indicated, he would have wanted a larger role than he played this year, during which he did only eight pieces for "60 Minutes," less than half the workload of other full-time correspondents.

"Would I have liked to do more?" he asked. "Of course."

Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes," could not be reached for comment.

Rather declined to say whether he views the push for him to leave CBS before his contract expires as a betrayal, saying, "I'd leave it for others to define it."

The newsman said he tried to handle the discussions for him to leave "in a professional, classy, gentlemanly manner. This is a news operation, and professional jealousy and backbiting and backstabbing are common in newsrooms and common in ours, unfortunately."

I guess the liberal elite in CBS management finally figured out having liars on your staff isn't good for business. All I have to say is "What's the frequency, Kenneth?". :laugh:

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Dan Rather is a class act and a real pro. He will be missed. Only a partisan hack would be foolish enough to think one error overshadows a long and storied career in news.

That was one HUGE error. And many people say it was more than just an error. Anyway, as a sitting news anchor, you are held to a much higher standard. Clearly, his anti-Bush feelings got the best of him.

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That was one HUGE error. And many people say it was more than just an error. Anyway, as a sitting news anchor, you are held to a much higher standard. Clearly, his anti-Bush feelings got the best of him.

FOX news found WMD's in Iraq. Twice.That is a huge error but somehow I bet you either didn't hear about it from your Republican-controlled media or you dismissed it out of partisan hackery.

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Regardless of you political views towards someone, laughing at a person who was the victim of a crime is pretty slimey

Lighten up, Charlie. No need for the fabricated drama. I guess the band R.E.M. are slimeballs too, for making a light hearted song about the incident. :doh: (By the way, Dan Rather has appeared with the band when they've performed the song live. I guess he's not supposed to make light of the incident either).

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He knew they were fake when he reported them

that would be awful... if it were true. Just saying it because you hate the guy doesn't make it true. Just saying it because other people who hate the guy are saying it also doesn't make it true.

Is there any real evidence for this claim? If there is, I missed it.

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I think Rather WANTED it to be true, and as such didnt do the due diligence a decent unbiased journalist should have done.

I know you think that. In reality, the rush for a scoop is a problem for all journalists. People just assume that liberal bias was the motivation.

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I think if I'm a head anchor. then I want people who work for me to do the double and triple checking. I think its the job of the Producer and Head Anchor to make sure they get the right people to fill those jobs because when it does go wrong. The Anchor takes the heat, whether he wanted it to be true or didn't care and was just reporting the news.

When you're on that stage, you gotta get it right. Guys like Drudge can post headlines that aren't true, and just delete them a few hours later. The T.V. news can't do that.

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I know you think that. In reality, the rush for a scoop is a problem for all journalists. People just assume that liberal bias was the motivation.

I agree with you, even though I don't understand that motivation.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd bet that there are very few people outside of professional journalists who know, say, which media outlet "broke", say, the "Dick Cheney shot somebody" story.

OTOH, I'd bet that a lot more people (like me), remember which newspaper is featured in this photo.


Being first may win you some attaboys down at the reporter's bar, but being wrong makes you famous.

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The thing is, its 100% true. Bush is a traitor and a coward.

Actually it was not true the daughter of the co verified that signatures were not her dads. its easy to creat forged documents when someone is dead harder when someone is alive.

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