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November 24, 2004

"Now the marketplace is deciding who people will read and who people will believe"

A decidely more sanguine take on Rather's blogger-induced exit.

And then the Post's editorial page weighs in.

Not Even Great Press From the Times Update: They call his resignation "abrupt" and say it's due to the Rathergate mess:

The network has yet to select a successor to Mr. Rather, who is 73, but two CBS executives said that the front-runner was John Roberts, 48, CBS News's chief White House correspondent, who also serves as anchor of the network's Sunday evening news program.

The fact that a successor hasn't been chosen casts doubt on the claims that this was a purely mutual and organic decision, doesn't it?

Though Mr. Rather and senior CBS executives had begun last summer to discuss a possible departure date within the next couple of years, Mr. Rather's announcement yesterday signaled an abrupt end to the nearly quarter-century that he spent in one of the most visible jobs in broadcast journalism.

Both he and Leslie Moonves, CBS's chairman and co-president of its parent company, Viacom, emphasized that the timing of the announcement was dictated by events largely out of their control.

Oh, okay. They're admitting that. That's a welcome surpise.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Rather said that he and Mr. Moonves believed that it was important that he make his announcement well before the forthcoming release of a report by an independent panel investigating the journalistic breakdowns that led CBS News to broadcast and then vigorously defend the National Guard news segment.

"I wish it were not happening while this panel is looking into the '60 Minutes' weekday story," Mr. Rather said at his office at the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street in Manhattan. "One reason I wanted to do this now was to make the truth clear - this is separated from that."

Mr. Rather said the most intense round of conversations among himself; his agent, Richard Leibner; and Mr. Moonves began about 10 days ago at Mr. Moonves's office at Viacom's headquarters in Times Square. At a certain point, Mr. Leibner excused himself and Mr. Rather spoke alone to Mr. Moonves.

"Dan was very emotional," Mr. Moonves recalled yesterday. "Clearly, this job and CBS News mean a lot to him. It was a very hard decision for him. Dan said to me, 'I'd like to do this on my own terms.' We totally supported him."

Mr. Rather - after a series of conversations last weekend with his wife, Jean, and his grown son and daughter - said he called Mr. Moonves, who was in California, on Monday afternoon and told him that he had made up his mind to go. In a measure of the awkward predicament in which CBS finds itself, Mr. Moonves said he felt compelled to inform the investigative panel of Mr. Rather's plans.

The volatile endgame surrounding Mr. Rather's announcement of his departure was in many ways true to the ups and downs of his career. ...

The report is set to be released in December, which seems well past due to me.

Still, it would appear that Rather has an idea about what the report will say, and that it's not going to be kind. That's a hopeful sign.

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posted by Ace at 03:19 AM

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