As long as I worked as a local tv news reporter and anchor, Dan Rather had been my network’s primary anchor. I was on the anchor desk waiting for the national news to end when Rather looked into the camera and, instead of saying goodnight, said “courage”.
I was on the anchor desk the night someone broke into the CBS studio and began screaming “fight aids not arabs” and Dan quickly threw to a commercial break before coming back and saying “sorry about that”.
I was working for a CBS station when then President George Bush said “I never walked off the set like you did Dan” referring to the hissy fit Rather pitched when a tennis tournament ran over into his news time.
Let me just say this: I never liked Dan Rather, and I tolerated him even less during election 2000 and 2004. I didn’t find his euphemisms charming or humorous. I didn’t like his arrogance. I find news anchors who seem at least a little human to be more credible and trustworthy. Cronkite is human. Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw are human. Aaron Brown is human. Shoot, even Jerry Springer is more human than Rather.
Now Rather is leaving the building. Walter Cronkite said today he should have retired years ago. “Although Dan did a fine job, I would have liked to have seen (Bob Schieffer) there a long time ago. He would have given the others a real run for their money.”
I’ll bet you’d be hard pressed to find a local CBS affiliate manager who’d disagree. CBS stations coast to coast have had to overcome their network news lead-in for the past 24 years. Why the folks at CBS never understood that Rather was a detriment to the news broadcast is beyond me.
As an Alabamian I can relate the Rather exit in a football story. When Bill Curry was the head football coach at The University of Alabama, every Bama fan wanted him gone. The people in the state who wanted him to stay? Auburn fans. Why? Because Curry never beat Auburn. ABC, NBC and FOX execs would probably prefer Rather stay at the news desk for another 24 years.
Goodbye Dan. And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.