Dan Rather has confirmed what has been speculated about for weeks: After more than four storied decades, he’s exiting CBS News.
“My 44 years plus at CBS News are coming to an end,” says Rather. “I’d hoped and believed that for some time that there would continue to be meaningful work for me either at 60 Minutes or somewhere else in the news division, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Rather was reacting to a June 15 Washington Post article, saying he was “surprised” by a quoted unnamed CBS executive saying that Rather's deal would not be renewed when it ran out at the end of November.
CBS appeared from the Washington Post piece to be trying to get out of an awkward situation and not seem as if they were letting the legendary newsman go because of his discredited September 2004 60 Minutes piece on George W. Bush’s Vietnam era National Guard service.
The decision, according to the unnamed CBS executives, was that there was simply no room for Rather on 60 Minutes, with such contributors as incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and CBS News’s Lara Logan expected to file pieces, along with the rest of the newsmag’s roster of full-time correspondents, including Ed Bradley and Leslie Stahl.
Still, since leaving the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News in March 2005 in the wake of that controversial report, Rather has struggled to get pieces on 60 Minutes, despite the fact that he was supposed to have full-time correspondent status on the show.
The 74-year-old newsman said he expected to leave CBS before the end of his current pact and so could consider options elsewhere. “I want to do the kind of reporting that’s always been what I’ve been interested in – serious journalism – stories of substance about things that really matter.”
Speculation is that Rather could surface with a documentary production deal à la Ted Koppel’s arrangement with the Discovery Channel.
A CBS News spokeswoman declined comment.