Where’s Dan?

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Station executives at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for last week’s CBS affiliate meeting were so entranced by the vision of the network’s newest star, Katie Couric, they barely noticed that CBS veteran Dan Rather was conspicuously absent.

While Couric enjoys a long welcome to the CBS Evening News anchor chair, the man who sat there for 24 years has been virtually disappeared by his network.

It seems the infamy he won with his flawed report on President Bush’s National Guard service during the height of the 2004 campaign is far from fleeting.

Since leaving his Evening News throne in March 2005 for what was billed as a full-time gig at 60 Minutes, Rather has reported only a handful of segments. (Lesley Stahl, by contrast, has reported dozens in that time.)

And while Couric and CNN wunderkind Anderson Cooper were feted as new 60 contributors at CBS’ upfront presentation in May, the silence regarding Rather’s future was deafening—and shameful, given his 44 years of service.

His deal comes due by year-end, but nobody inside CBS will confirm whether he’ll be a correspondent or even at the network this time next year.

A CBS spokesperson says: "Dan Rather is a 60 Minutes correspondent who is currently working on stories that will air in the next few weeks."

Rather has been gracefully silent about the silent treatment, but his friends describe him as "hurt and confused" by the state of affairs.

At 74 years old, Rather is young by 60 Minutes standards and eager to work. But sadly, the chances that he’ll follow in the footsteps of Mike Wallace, whose long career (and non-
retirement at 88) was celebrated on a recent broadcast, look about as thin as turnip soup.

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