Well, tonight's the night that Dan Rather finally gives up the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News, to be replaced by his temporary/substitute/why-now replacement, Bob Schieffer, who probably should have replaced Rather for real years ago.
And as is usually the case at CBS News they are giving their star reporter Rather a TV special to celebrate his career, just as they gave specials to Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and countless other bigshot reporters. Are they putting it on against American Idol tonight? If so, it will be quite ratings challenged. After all, American Idol beat the President of the United States and his State of the Union Address.
I don't know about you but this sure looks like it's more of a good-riddance party to me. Rather's press the last couple of weeks has been just terrible. Ken Auletta wrote some piece in which he quoted a bunch of bigshot CBS News-type people who didn't have all that many
complimentary things to say about Rather, said they preferred to watch Peter Jennings(!). Rather went on Letterman last week to defend himself, again, about Memogate and try and spin that they found there was "no political bias". Yeah, and convince the folks at RatherBiased.com about that. Those folks helped expose Rather over the Memogate mess last fall and they must be having quite the party today. They're all having a big celebration for getting rid of Rather. Unlike the departure of Tom Brokaw, Rather's being carried off on a stretcher.
Come to think of it, though, this can't be a good day for RatherBiased.com after all. Hey, they got rid of Dan Rather. So their job is OVER, their website is FINISHED. What do these guys do with their website now? Give it back to the web domain people?! Maybe they can try to get rid of someone else. Maybe they can change their name to SchiefferBiased.com and try and get rid of him, too, but he's going to be gone in a few months anyway. Hey, why not, eh? Get rid of two guys in one year from the CBS Evening News.
The other thing is that I keep reading these newspaper accounts that keep referring to Rather's 24 years on TV as the longest continuous tenure for a news anchor at one network, but that's phony information. Peter Jennings has been anchoring on ABC since 1978, if you count the five years he spent co-anchoring from London on the triplecast with Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson. And that's not even counting that period in the 1960s when Jennings anchored the ABC Evening News, as it was then called, up against Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley. So Jennings pretty much has Rather all beat in the tenure department. The fact that Jennings was a co-anchor is no excuse: everyone forgets that for a year or so in the mid-90s Rather co-anchored the CBS Evening News with Connie Chung. So give the award for tenure to Jennings already, darnet. And if you count all North America, then Lloyd Robertson gets the trophy: he's been on CTV News since 1976. And that doesn't even count the six years he spent anchoring the National. Wait, hold on: Peter Jennings anchored the CTV News in the 60s. So give the trophy back to Jennings again. Oh, who cares.
Anyway, that's my rant for the day about the evening news. Tune in for some history tonight, Dan Rather's exit.